Just doing my thing

Posted: December 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ok the world doesn’t need another end of year reflective thing and look ahead and predictions and all that bollocks but as I do look back and look forward, I keep thinking “just keep doing your thing”.

Howard Thurman may not be that well known to many of you but he had a “thing”.  I love one of his most known quotes:


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

That’s his more eloquent way of saying “do your thing.”

You can look Howard Thurman up here thanks to Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Thurman

And I’ll just mention – did anyone reading this donate to the Wikipedia cause? I did.  I was just doing my thing.  I use and rely on Wikipedia a lot so I thought I’d literally put my money where my mouth (!) is and donate to what I think is a worthy cause: information for all, freely available to all.

I donated bits to charity.  I supported someone who went to Africa and helped street kids in Uganda.  Moved by their experiences, they were just doing their thing but helped people in the most awful of circumstances who just wanted to do their thing.  Without fear, punishment or harm.  https://www.retrak.org/?s=connecting+hr+africa for more.

I have helped a few people pro-bono this year. I do it cause it’s my thing.  They all know who they are and this isn’t a post to induce an “aww, he’s nice.”  I do it because I want to and I get satisfaction from helping people like this, so it’s all about me that.  Others benefit, sure.  So no medal needed.  Just doing my thing.

I’ve also given up on a few things this year.  A couple of business ventures I walked away from because they WEREN’T me doing my thing.  I gave them all I could and helped where I could but they just weren’t my thing.

I coached, mentored, advised, spoke, wrote and did a lot of other things that were sometimes paid, sometimes not.  They most certainly were their need for thing and me doing my thing. And making sure I had enough income to pay the taxman (doing their thing) and the other financial commitments I had.

I judged a few awards.  I love doing this and seeing what brilliance others get up to.  I treat this as a true privilege and enjoy helping showcase some of the best of what the profession I’ve come to call my own has to offer.  Just doing my thing though, and appreciating others doing their thing.

I’ve consoled and conversed with people disaffected by political and social turmoil this year.  Just doing my thing.

I’ve joined forces with entrepreneurs, educators, enlighteners.  They’re doing their thing and I’m just glad to help them with my thing.

I’ve loved, laughed and loathed at things this year.  Trying to just keep doing my thing in the face of challenges, people having contra views to mine, people not appreciating me, people really appreciating me and people being supportive, wise and caring about me.  Just doing their thing and me just trying to do mine.

All the time though, I’m just trying to make a difference in this world.  Positively make a difference.  Committed to a range of causes and beliefs I have about what’s needed to help this world be a better place.  Focused on helping those in work become more fulfilled, joyful and hopeful about their working lives.  Fixated on the challenges we all face with as much kindness, intelligence and compassion as I can muster.

I’ve been there for some, not so much for others and likewise in return.  Just trying to do our thing.

So there’s no resolutions, no optimistic look ahead or knowing look back.  And I’ll leave you with Howard Thurman again.  I hope your “thing” and mine includes this.


“In the stillness of the quiet if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to the weakness, courage to the fear and hope to despair.”

Just going to keep doing my thing.  I wish you all the best in continuing to do yours.



Buying Happiness? Bah humbug…

Posted: December 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

My most shameless clickbait title.  I’m really sorry, genuinely.

My good friend Myles Runham passed on this link about the cult of happiness at work


One thing I couldn’t bring myself to do is look at the 1,365 comments on this article.  I’ve seen enough of the vitriol, abuse and sarcasm on newspaper comment threads to know it’s just not worth it.Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 09.35.36.png

(Image above taken from the Guardian article referred to with the link)

So my response to this article is to write a blog post.

I know some people who’ve bravely stuck their neck out and talked up the happiness at work agenda when it wasn’t at all avant garde to do so.  I genuinely don’t mind this subject being talked about – there’s so much gloom and dullness normally talked about at work, something to lighten the perspective of the workplace as a place you can enjoy coming to and doing work is fine by me.  It’s not COMPULSORY (although this article clearly suggests it as it’s in the title).

And let’s get some sense here: we’re not advocating harmful psychotic behaviour are we? Smiles, fun, lightening up – all intended to create energy.  It’s not like a desperate attempt at fun communism would even work if we wanted it to.  We all have fun but some fun is more fun than others blah blah.  I’m not advocating we out-happy anyone else.

In explaining my view on this, I’ll start with me.  Because I know me better than anyone else or any organisations referred to in this article.

I’ve OFTEN had joy in my work and experienced happiness.  The Civil Service, in the Courts.  The not for profit sector in funded charitable enterprises.  In my freelancing consulting / speaking.  Fun and happiness?  How can making people repay debt, get divorced or repossess their house be fun and create happiness?  How can deciding on who gets the over-stretched funding pot allocated their way and risk shattering lots of worthy causes dreams and impacts on lives allow you to feel happy?  How can putting a price on yourself to design a workshop feel like fun?

I found happiness in applying myself fairly into the role I was given responsibility for to help protect people’s assets, lives and indeed, their well-being and happiness.  So I saw myself as much of a guardian for tenants of over zealous landlords as I was an enforcer of wealthy property owners’ rights to evict people who’ve fallen on hard times.  I had fun in seeing people grow in confidence and competence in making decisions about who got their share of the funding pot.  I take great pride in being asked to help people in companies solve gnarly issues and do things differently and then put in an invoice for that effort.

I think we’re talking about this subject from the WRONG perspective.  What looks like gimmicks, ploys and desperate tactics can in fact be attempts at creating something lighter, more human and less stuffy in work because we’ve made some things so serious they become mood sucking drains on any energetic soul who cares to tackle the work.  The perspective appears to insist this is all forced fun (funsultants are mentioned in this article).  The perspective is sugar-coated brussels sprouts.  The perspective is the latest manipulative tactic to get people to endure more low pay, poor treatment and zero prospects.  And this may be behind some leaders thinking here.  So I’m not dismissing this critical view on things like beer-pong every evening.  It’s not the ONLY reason we should be talking about happiness at work though.  So why has happiness cropped up so prominently?

It’s this perspective I wish we’d look at more: Toxic cultures.  Awful management practices.  Terrible conditions.  Commoditised job roles as part of a “satanic mill” of employ.  There’s probably a lot more of these than there are happy workplaces, yet the happy ones get the headlines for being a bit of a freak-show.  I get it.  Knock the outliers.  Poo-poo the fringe fun-fascists.  Don’t tackle the real issue which is dire, depressing and downright nasty places to work.

The most serious outcome we might be missing is this: Leaders and business people are though starting to realise that if their employees are happier, they do things better, with more creativity and generally are purveyors of something customers like : feeling good.

In a service economy effectively transacting to a satisfactory outcome is the aim.

In an experience economy, it’s how it feels AS WELL AS getting the right outcome that matters.

Maybe there is cynical corporate-greed in happiness engineering but then again, it may just be a leader trying to break the grey, dark and dank confines of the workplace as a psychological prison and instead, create a place of sanctuary, escape and fulfilment.

Using the Nokia example in this feature was an interesting choice.  Let’s blame Nokia for being happy and therefore not rocking their boat at a time when threats were on the horizon. Maybe it was that Nokia’s belief in only positive news that helped it convince itself the Symbian operating system would help it survive threats from Apple and Samsung / iOS and Android.  I’m not so sure.  I think this was corporate blindness and denial.  Belief you were too established to fail.  Not that people only wanted to be happy and so buried any disgruntlement.

I recall a quote about Alan Mulally’s first project update at Ford where all their projects were on Green.  No-one dared report Red and rarely even reported Amber.  He wanted fairer reporting.  He probably didn’t say this but my take on it goes like this  “Come on folks, we wouldn’t be employing me to restore the brand if we were doing THIS well.  Let’s have some truthful reporting please.  Red is good, it’ll force a conversation”.

It’s not about the pursuit of being happy at work that denies a bit of frank honesty.  It’s fear of retribution that does that (along with embarrassment in front of peers and other useless emotions).  If we’re free to be happy about work, colleagues and progress AND to call out a serious flaw in either process, people or projects then we’d get somewhere and perhaps be happier about being complicit in GOOD things and USEFUL debates not bland, smiley ignorance of a tanking enterprise.  Surely no-one can be happy about that no matter what fireman’s pole they use to get from one meeting to another.

So happiness at work doesn’t mean blind naivety to the cause.  It means an atmosphere not ruled by fear where people are HAPPY and HAVE FUN alongside DILIGENCE, EQUITY and OPENNESS.

People need to be happy not just to express their joy at work but their appreciation they can challenge, innovate and contribute to making decisions.  The more we label happiness at work with shot-drinking interviews, fussball tables and doing the congo to the canteen, the more we turn away from the real issues: fear is the enemy, not happiness.  Nor is happiness the only solution to this so the pursuit of happiness at work needs some recalibration.

Let’s have people participate in a workplace where there is freedom of expression, fairness and inclusivity alongside committed application.  

This kind of frame helps us discover joy, fun and happiness in what we do I’m sure.  If we HAVE to resort to slides, remember they only really go in a down direction which is where your morale might be going if that’s ALL you’ve got.

The Institute of People Management South Africa Annual Convention 14 November 2016 – blog transcript of keynote speech by Perry Timms – People and Transformational HR Ltd

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We live in a world where we sense, feel and see changes around us at every turn.  Many of the changes we’re facing simply haven’t happened to us ever before.  Many are newer macro and micro level changes we’ve seen before but in different ways.  Industrialisation saw us move from rural, craft and agricultural ways of living to urban, mechanised and production line work in factories.  Many of the industrial age legacies are still with but many more face their biggest disruption in decades if not in centuries.

If we look at the World Economic Forum’s case for this being called a Fourth Industrial Revolution we can see what we are really in the midst of:

“The First Industrial Revolution used steam power to mechanise production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres” – Professor Klaus Schwab

Physical, digital and biological aren’t things we’ve seen before and the advances in technology present us with both a gift of an opportunity in automation like we’ve never seen before; widespread connectivity we’ve been grappling with for the last decade or more; and social opportunities we simply cannot ignore.

But let’s zoom in a little more from societal, humanitarian and planetary issues and instead focus on the business world and those of the models of business.

I’ll begin with something which is now used by MILLIONS of business professionals: The Business Model Canvas.

Right away, if your business has NEVER modelled itself like this, you have your first takeaway.  So first let’s look at what the Business Model Canvas is.

After extensive research 9 key elements were defined as critical to the component parts of some of the most varied, successful and sustainable models for business covering everyone from Amazon to small start-ups.

Founders and creators Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur took all the insight from various models and found the similarities resulting in the model you can find and use for free at

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It’s these component parts that – when mapped and then subject to more detailed scrutiny, help you make adjustments in the work you do to lead, service and apply efforts to particular aspects of your business.

Yet this talk isn’t about the business model canvas per se, this is more about the business models of the future – as we are seeing them develop – and is of course a glimpse into the future.

The concept of some of the most progressive and awe-inspiring business models comes from some recent work of Singularity University member Salim Ismail in his book Exponential Organisations.

Not just espousing the models of the usual suspects of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Air BnB and Spotify, instead Ismail looks into some of those challenging the orthodox thinking in business.  So let’s look into these but first let’s look at some fundamentals of the challenger organisations and their business models.

This quick from / to gives use something to focus on


I’ll cover some of these in some of my examples to you now.

I want you to focus though, on 2029.  The year when apparently we will see computation by digital technology surpass our own; when we will see a coming together of humanity, biology and technology in what Google engineer and technology leader Ray Kurzweil calls the Singularity.  We are nearer the Singularity than the dawn of a new Millennium.  And if you know anything about Moore’s Law (the speed at which micro-processor power and size reduction doubles every 2 years) and the Law of Accelerating Returns explained as this:

“30 steps linearly gets you to 30. One, two, three, four, step 30 you’re at 30. With exponential growth, it’s one, two, four, eight. Step 30, you’re at a billion.”

SO it’s that Exponential world we’re in now.  And that’s why the poster children of Air BnB and Uber have taken off – they don’t follow linear rules. They exponential traits like those listed.

Let’s take a look at 2 dimensions on the models and their component parts and how these are illustrated in the following case studies.

We start with the first tenet of the new business models: a massive transformative purpose.

All businesses have one, not many are articulated, believed in and leveraged.

A highly aspirational tagline – something that’s inspiration and not predictable like company values.  Something to form a non-political, outward focus that turns a company into a learning environment.

So we MUST start with something that calls to a better way, a more powerful and yes more profitable (or profligate) way to live, work and learn.

For you to experience this, I’d like you to turn to someone sat next to you (if you work together that’s OK) and try and describe your company purpose.  If you need to Google search your company’s purpose that’s OK – this is normal.

THEN take a look at how it feels massive and transformative and see if you can shift it to being more inspirational.

If you remember from last year’s keynote I talked to you about the 7Ds of the Future of Work:

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Singularity’s research into the world of technology is similar


If we look at GPS development as an example: it used to cost $15000 for a GPS system in the 1990s to a chip in your phone this year that costs less than $1.  So eventually things are becoming so cheap they’re virtually free or they become free.   Yet for years, it looked like digitisation was good over physical and progress was slow (deceptive) to when it became more accessible (disruptive) and then become so abundant it became dematerialised and demonetised and eventually democratised.

So I think my 7Ds and the Singularity U’s 6Ds are somewhat dimensions of the same elements of the shifts in the way we live, work and learn.

Let’s look into some examples and the models they have and see how you might be able to adopt them.

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TED and TEDx – from premium events to crowd-based, “franchising” to live it’s Massive Transformative Purpose – ideas worth spreading.  TEDx has taken 18 minute talks from exclusive worldwide (TED) to local, communal events run by volunteers as enterprises to keep education around Technology; Entertainment and Design at an optimum level.

Their model is clear on their value proposition: it supports the mission; it brings people together; it gives entrepreneurs and others airtime and potential global prominence; it allows for enthusiasts to build their own events.

What’s the model for TEDx?  The value proposition is still ideas worth spreading.  The spread is built not on fixed assets such as staff or infrastructure – they use the web; free videos and a community of volunteers who run the events as if it were their own enterprise.  They use algorithms and automation to present the most popular and indexed talks for a better user experience.  They have a tight interface about brand and acceptable content which their community diligently enforcement.  They are the epitome of experimentation with fringe TEDx events; salons; and no overly restrictive covenants on the nature of speakers and content as long as they can be linked to the core purpose and TED mnemonic.

So it’s Massive Transformative Purpose is lived through its content and galvanises thousands of activists and billions of consumers.  It uses a flexible; on-demand lifestyle workers (or staff on demand if you will); it leverages assets of others; organisers arrange videographers; curate speakers; venues; organising crews; assets and materials.  It uses algorithms and social technologies to spread their words and make accessible the best, most watched content.  They post across to YouTube to capture more people and so reach a community beyond those who create the events and attend them in person.

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Coyote Logistics is a courier firm in the US that is changing the way people view package delivery.  Instead of an army of couriers and vans, Coyote uses social media and apps to locate available vehicles and drivers with packages which has shaved 9000 tons of unwanted CO2 and 5.5m empty miles as truck/vans/bikes go from delivery to depot / base.  40,000 couriers gives it amazing coverage yet only 1300 people on their books means they can flex to cope with the nature of the fluctuating work of logistics.  Their MTP is Offer the Best Logistics Experience Ever.  Their couriers aren’t odd-jobbers, they are a connected community who respond and participate in that better experience.  Their permanent workers are often younger grads looking for entrepreneurial starts to their careers and Coyote invests heavily in their development and potential forecasting.  Extensive data analytics literally drives their success with constant assessments of routes, customers and driver data.

MTP: Community & Staff On Demand; Social Tech; Algorithms; Dashboards; Interfaces; Leveraged Assets

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ING Bank Canada is perhaps the unlikeliest of the ExO’s you might come across.  Not the typical flag-waving disruptor.  Yet within the normality of a bank something magic happened.  Firstly the incoming CEO put himself up for “Re-election” after his first year of being “in office”.  He was re-elected. He also invited 10,000 customers to try out a new app that went on to become the financial product of the year in 2012.  The model was about multi-disciplinary people working across normal corporate boundaries.  So when there was a product launch, all staff willingly manned the phones; when it was reporting time, more people put themselves into that effort.  It become the ultimate in flexibility and came from people feeling part of the enterprise not allocated a job.  The bank was subsequently bought out from ING and the CEO is still at the helm but they went from an average handling of deposits worth $10,000 per employee to $40,000 per employee and instead of 250 customers per employee, they were handling 1800 per employee.  Such was customers self-help; awareness of when they needed help and that their customers became part of their community.

Their model: an MTP (Save Your Money); Community and Engagement; Interface; Experimentation; Autonomy; Social


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Vision: What you’re doing

Purpose : Why you’re doing it

Business model : what will fuel you as you’re doing it

Wow and  uniqueness : what sets you apart from others

Values: what matters to you

MTP – Providing the best customer service possible.  Interface (their hiring philosophy); Engagement (with customers and staff as unique people and a unique style/way of being)

Community – create a company based on the random way cities have a personality / way (Zappos Insiders; Coding Hackathons)

Experimentation – ways of working

Autonomy – no call centre scripts – it takes what it takes to make it the right service

Dashboards – customer satisfaction and rewards are gamified and cultural assessments

So the models of the future?

Business Model Canvas still applies

Exponential Organisational traits have a lot to offer as a spotlight on matter which could grow your company in line with some of the most “hockey stick” growth model.

Leaders are important – skills in the business models of the future could be like this:

Visionary / Dreamer tendencies – think Elon Musk at Tesla

User Experience Design – think April Underwood at Slack

Programming / Engineering – think Page/Brin at Google

Finance / Business – think Reid Hoffman at LinkedIn

Alongside disruptive innovation skills

Discovery skills – think Travis Kalanick at Uber

Delivery skills – think Cheryl Sandberg at Facebook

In closing, Howard Thurman says it so elegantly

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It’s become a thing …!  David D’Souza – that character with a sharp wit, a Simpsons avatar on Twitter (@dds180) and a cheeky way of being, has created these 50 questions and now that’s become a thing.

Have you thought about the D’Souza 50 on the future?

Anyway, this isn’t a DDS love-in, it’s a serious attempt at answering 50 pretty tough, topical and tantalising questions about my obsession: the future of work.

Before I start, I do find myself in an interesting situation about the future of work.  On top of the very excellent sounding CIPD / Jericho Chambers event I couldn’t attend the other day under the hashtag #workischanging, we heard some interesting and challenging insight about the future of work.  A big tent apparently.  And some good tweet-able hors d’oeuvres of insight from Lynda Gratton, Peter Cheese and others.

Because you see, this future of work stuff is catching on.  In fact, I find myself sometimes in this bizarre situation of trying to out-future others.  I don’t do it because I want to be known as the number 1 futurologist.  I do it because I guess we all catch up with each other.  And I want to find new stuff to share.  So I am relevant, stretching and worth listening to.  So I out-future because I want to be more helpful to people.  It’s not like I roll my eyes at those who have just started quoting “machine learning” in their presentations. And I don’t VUCA-ise anything, I promise.  I DO though use the disruptive word and that makes me unpopular with some.  I use it sparingly and actually, I still find disruptive innovation a fascinating concept even though it’s now more hip to knock it’s teeth out and add it to Room 101 with employee engagement and the aforesaid VUCA.  Overuse and ignore disruptive innovation at your peril I say.

Anyway, I might try and out-future folks here but if I do it’s nothing more than stretching the frame and giving us a good old mind-tease.  Here goes for my attempts at D’Souza’s 50.

1.       What roles can’t be automated?

Like others I fail to see any role that won’t have some factor of automation in it.  We’re already seeing art created by randomised or programmed algorithms, so who are we to judge that a piece of art created by a connected series of devices isn’t valid?  “Just because we can etc” (Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park quote) springs to mind.  Anyway,  I bang a drum on the return of craft. I think we can create making capacity so that we can counter the automation of lots of stuff with the time to be the crafter of one-offs.  Everything CAN be automated but not everything will need to be or desired by us to.

2.       What roles shouldn’t be automated?

See above.  Human touches are important.  I am not sure I’d want a robot teacher.  The danger of downtime or unexpected “update patched now needs to reboot” cannot be ignored when we’re reliant on automated tech, but equally it could be just nature’s way of teaching us lessons.  We should start from the “what’s best for the planet / humanity / individual choice” and work back from there.

3.       Financial markets, left to their own devices, aren’t good at accommodating a greater social purpose – do we need to take more of an interventionist stance to ensure greater societal benefit?

Yes I believe in a form of conscious capitalism (see Raj Sissodia’s work; Umair Haque’s New Capitalist Manifesto and more) and a system that doesn’t create hoarding-based inequality of wealth distribution.

The financial market – or invisible hand – is not a real thing.  It’s a system created by, and manipulated by, people.   I suspect, that as data collection and analysis increases and we can more deeply mine that data, and it would help us understand what we can truly create/mean by value.  This is where the blockchain could free us. So in this area, it’s worth knowing about the blockchain and crypto currencies.  Free from human interpretation and manipulation and regulated by unhackable algorithm, we may see a true and proper value assessment made on companies and linked to bonds which means we can properly evaluate “worth” in a fiscal sense.

4.       At what point do we stop running out of corporate scandals? How can we get more proactive at asking difficult questions of organisations as employees and consumers?

Ignoring the fact that this is 2 questions (so therefore it’s more like 51 questions), we may never run out of corporate scandals.  Some people just end up getting into situations where they use less than legal, ethical or moral ways to keep their business in an advantageous position.  People.  Organisations don’t do bad things, people do. Someone, somehow, puts pressure on others to do less then ethical things.  One way to counter this is with more transparency and inclusivity.  Trade secrets are competitive advantage.  Unethical practices hide behind corporate “in confidence” mentality.  So more openness about decision making and including people who act as internal ethical barometers will help guide people away from unjust actions (even if they have unjust thoughts).

5.       Does an organisation with a social purpose have an advantage or a limitation?

I think ALL organisations should exist for some social purpose.  If you make toys, you’re helping children make the most of childhood and learn and discover and use their imagination.  You’re not there just to make a ton of money from products.  Increasingly I hope we value social purpose way over profiteering.  Until we incentivise social purpose then we’re going to struggle.  As consumers, we should buy with a conscience wherever we can.  We need more information about ethical supply; environmental impact; charitable giving; tax compliance; pay differentiation and more.  Social purpose SHOULD be an advantage and we may see the openness of information create a competitive advantage.  See Justin Dillon’s work on Made In A Free World for more on how we can use information to inform our choices.

6.       What work might be most impacted by changes in international border policy or digitisation making borders redundant?

BIG question.  Digitisation does negate some border policies and previously held constructs based on sovereignty-based trade agreements and location-based natural asset utilisation.  Increasingly (and if you read Chris Anderson’s Makers this will chime) we can source products and materials and assemble whatever we want using our own digital infrastructure.  We can build/commission one-offs and not just mass produced everything.  Intermediaries (suppliers and component manufacturers) can help us and be unnecessary in equal measure.  With more making capacity (3D and 4D printers being one area) we could have a range of different choices as consumers which will reshape some of what we have long believed will be things people do.  We stopped sending so many letters (and instead sent emails) whilst then buying more through parcels so the postal delivery service shifted.  We’ll see even more of this in the coming 5-10 years.

7.       Who is accountable for my wellbeing?

We all are but especially you.  Digital support will be provided to help you manage your well being.

8.       If my employer is responsible for making sure I’m not under undue stress – then am I responsible for managing my diet to ensure I’m delivering peak performance?

Both of these things are interrelated and your physical and mental fitness are intertwined.  So yes.  People may adjust their diet +/- depending on stress but also boredom.  Convenience and habit.  Information and mythology.  It’s a dialogue between people in the responsible position of looking after your welfare in return for your labour; and you giving your best and expecting fair support in order to do so.

9.       Can you automate creativity – and if so will we still only feel something is creative if it is produced by a human?

No.  You can mechanise and automate the product of creativity.  You can reframe creativity to be machine-based random or interpretively created something but the essence of the word is spontaneous, elegant, mind-bending creativity that comes from being a sentient being.  You can automate discovery (research etc) that might lead to creativity but creativity itself – the untold genius of vision or artistic prose that comes from humans should – and I believe will – have MORE value in a more digitally enveloped future.

10.   How do we balance the concepts of diversity with the drive for cultural fit?

Cultural fit is the wrong phrase for me.  Cultural enrichment feels better to me.  “Let’s employ people who enrich our culture.”  There, it’s that easy. (!)

In my view, diversity and culture are part of the same DNA strands in the world of work.  You can create a better diversity of people in your organisation which WILL impact on the culture.  You can have a culture that attracts a more diverse range of people.  Even if it may not SEEM like you have a diverse workforce, you do.  You may seem to have a culture of a hard-nosed sales and macho achievement culture but you will have secret empathisers, rule benders, inclusiveness believers and kind givers.  There’s ALWAYS the espoused and externalised culture and then there’s the deeper shadow culture.  The secret is to have a less long shadow and more in the light and open.

I think you create balance when the two strands are SO intertwined you don’t see a difference – when you accept your openness might lead to challenge yet know your openness brings the most passionate and diverse thinking people to your positions.

11.   Is the Gen X,Y,Z & millennial terminology helpful for understanding or lazy stereotyping?

Lazy stereotyping.  Your date of birth determines some of the attitudes you’ve formed based on the world that you’ve operated in but at a point in time – i.e. NOW – we’re all more similar than we are different.  Unless you look for the differences and focus ONLY on those, does this stereotyping stuff make sense to you.  Sadly, many of us do only look for the differences.

12.   What’s the point of work? To get happiness? Make a difference? Recognition? Will the point of work change and how might it do so?

The point of work is is to provide.  Provide income, purpose, happiness, a point, help, salvation, comfort.  Let’s just leave it there.

Are multiple questions ever a good thing?  Do you think we should break them into one long question?  Why ask more than one thing at a time?

13.   How do we step away from a 9-5 working week construct together?

As soon as we can hopefully.  I don’t get why we’re so fixed on this pattern.  How is through the disaggregation of the things that hold 9-5 together.  School and working patterns.  Break them down you change the entire thing.  Digital connectivity gives us a chance to do more of this but in 10 years I hope we are going to see some newer ranges of working patterns emerging as norms.

14.   How much longer will income and wage inequality be tolerated by those on the wrong side of the stats?

Not for too long I hope.  I have faith that some kind of Moore’s Law (or Law of Accelerating Returns) will ensue here.  The more we’re narked about it the more it’ll see change as people drive things forward and momentum is gathered.  So let’s keep pushing this as fairness means we should all be vexed about this whatever side of the bar charts we’re on.

15.   How many more years of casual sexism in workplaces do we have before that dies a death?

I’ll give it 2 years maximum.  The more people think this will be tackled the less they’ll do it.  So let’s keep the pressure on that this will not be tolerated.

16.   If whole chunks of your life are viewable on the internet will we become more tolerating of mistakes at work?

Mistakes at work are often caused by some form of pressure, neglect or naivety.  We’re encouraging iteration and that mistakes will be made.  I believe we can judge a bold aspiration that didn’t quite work out versus wilful malevolence that damages people’s lives.  We don’t need an algorithm for everything.

17.   The image of everyone working on the beach is an attractive one – but what does this mean for introverts or people with mobility issues?

Introverts and people with mobility considerations will probably invent something that gives them a fair crack at working on the beach.  I’m an extrovert and dislike the beach.  Well sand particularly.  Give me the Cabana.

18.   Do I own my data or am I just a data point?

We don’t own anything – only rent it. So we are a data point.

19.   You can already automate ‘congratulations’ messages on Linkedin. How much effort can you remove from a gesture before it becomes meaningless?

I like to think of it as digital assistance and not digital replacement.  So add your own phrase to a prompted message and it’s the best of both worlds.  Therefore far from meaningless.

This response has been automated by the PerryBot.

20.   If I can outsource work cheaply to another country is that simply the free market in action (and an easy decision) or should I care more about the wellbeing of people I already employ?

Yes.  As an employer your duty of care is to your employees first and foremost.  You’ve invited them into your enterprise and will compensate them for their time, brilliance and efforts in return for sustaining your company purpose and reason for being.

21.   If work is to become more transient (the gig economy) then who takes responsibility for long term capability building of people? If I’m only with an organisation for 6 months then why would they invest in me?

Gig workers (!) looking after themselves is another form of self-directed learning.  It’s our own responsibility to be capable and companies benefitting from this will compensate accordingly.  If you’re a Gig worker and your clients take you for a ride (no I’m not talking Uber here), then acquire the capability to negotiate better and it should all work out fine.

22.   The more we understand about the mind the easier it is to manipulate it. How do we build in ethical safeguards within organisations?

We acquire the skill, know-how and ability to not be manipulated.  The more we know how to manipulate people through (say) behavioural economics then the more aware we become of BEING manipulated through nudges so we are more informed.  Organisations don’t build these safeguards, we should build them in ourselves with some help from educators, scientists and benevolent geniuses.

23.   How much do we really know about the organisations that curate the world’s information and present it back to you and how much do you need to know?

Not enough.  So we need to find out more and share amongst ourselves.

24.   Is happiness a legitimate business and economic outcome?

I prefer Menlo Innovation’s awesome CEO Rich Sheridan’s phrase of joy rather than happiness.  I think you can help people find happiness and that has a positive impact on an economical proposition.  When people experience joy in what they do, then work for them has a whole new meaning and drives a business forward constantly.  So create joy and experience happiness would be my way of framing this.

25.   What is the best way for groups to create influence and make a difference in a digital age?

Like-minded people come together and create a force majeure.  Now then, some people say that if all you do is hang around with like-minded people it’s a homogenous echo chamber.  Yet we all know we come together with people more strongly over shared interests so this is the digital tribes and communities we’re seeing all over.  So find your tribe and create the energy to do things that make a difference.

26.   Why do organisational IT solutions still tend to be more expensive yet less useful than consumer solutions?


27.   Does the age of automation mean that a universal basic payment to all is required?

Such a big question in so few words.  We’re yet to see whether this works BUT we know that some instances of being in poverty create helplessness and dependency that is harder to break.  Esteem and worth come into this a lot.  Automation COULD see us need to earn less to acquire what we need and live accordingly to more values-based things we do rather than value-acquisition things we do.  Tiny house movement, slow living, we’re seeing some anti-modernity movements that are creating a post-materialistic view of the world.  As the need for owning things goes down, so the feel of power in owning stuff is less desired.  I hope that some form of universal income provides the stabilised way of living, and that we can see more choices for people in how they do their thing for the world.

28.   When we do save time where does it go? For all the automation and efficiency I don’t hear many people saying they have more time to relax

I think we’re all a little way off of Tim Ferriss’s vision of a 4 hour work-week.  I’m going to pretend we’re in 2029.  I’ll be busy volunteering somewhere whilst getting my universal basic income.  I won’t have any more time to relax on my hands, yet I’ll be doing stuff I love and looking after people I care about.  So that’s time well spent for me.

29.   What aspects of our behaviour is it appropriate to legislate for? Is restricting access to company communications after hours unnecessarily interfering or saving us from ourselves?

More multiple questions?  Why is that?

I don’t like creating too many rules.  Educate and liberate not legislate and regulate.  Let’s spend more time helping people be better in a big old field than by providing electric tags and fences to keep them safe.

30.   Will you ever want a consoling hug from a robot?

Nope.  Robots might be fun but they have no soul.  Only humans and pets can do this hugging thing right.

31.   Why are so many organisations already designed and led as though the workers are robots?

Pin manufacturing has a lot to answer for.  Design will save the world, so I think we’re redesigning things like this right before our very eyes.

32.   What does not having to leave your home to work, socialise or shop do to fitness levels over time?

It makes sedentary ways easier but equally, convert your garage/bedroom into a gym and no problemo.  The streets are always there to run on.

33.   What are the chances the world left by this generation will be better than the one left to us?

Better can mean many things.  I HOPE we’re creating better opportunities in a Yin-Yang way to those things we thought would work out but aren’t doing so like pensions.  It’s the planet’s well-being that scares me most.

34.   Do children entering school need to read or write – or will those be surplus skills by the team they leave school?

You mean by the time they leave school?  Oh the irony in the typo.  We should always read and write is my view.  These developed technologies are at the heart of our most civilised moments.

35.   What are the issues that we are sleepwalking towards now that we will regret not taking action on sooner? (thanks to Siobhan Sheridan at the NSPCC for this)

We’re sleepwalking towards our over-reliance on digital without thought of the consequences of what we might be letting go of.  I love digital but I know that over-reliance on anything isn’t great.

36.   What are the opportunities that we will regret taking?

Wow – where’d this come from?  I think we’ll regret taking too few steps into education reform/recalibration whatever you want to call it.  We’ve made (IMHO) way too little progress in what education is, could be, should be and a lifelong learning approach to the world.  Too many people have stopped learning and are fixed in their views of themselves and the world and want to go backwards as a result of it.  Madiba had it right “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”  Yet it’s a political football, we’re locked into league tables and now grammar school arguments in this country.  We should all be more bothered about better education and that’s our big regret moment.

37.   How much of our enhanced technical capability will be channeled into solving societal problems and how much into increasing profits?

My dream is that these two combine so there is no distance or choice here.  I suspect (as we’re seeing now) profits are still driving the technical capability yet there is hope that tech will then also help societal problems incidentally.  I’d like to see it the other way around.

38.   How do you get a mortgage in the ‘Gig Economy’?

Some bright spark will set up a mortgage for Giggers.  Via an app.  And all algorithm based.

OR we dispense with this and some other form of domicile choice creates a new market.

39.   Does the Sharing Economy really share – or does it just collect a smaller margin from a larger volume of workers that are dependent? If we called it the Snaring Economy would it be such a popular concept?

It starts from sharing but it then gets a bit tenuous as it grows, scales and people start looking at money-making from it as the sole reason for doing so.  I don’t think it’s snaring I think it’s mis-sold and overused so there’s more due diligence needed when entering it. I will say it again: educate and liberate not regulate and legislate.

40.   When Prof Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and others describe AI as a potentially extinction level threat why do people think they are overstating it? When did we start thinking we had a better grasp on big issues than Stephen Hawking?

I take their words as a sound set of principles to adopt in ethical use of AI.  Watch them closely and heed their words but also other geniuses are available.

41.   How confident are you really that the Financial Services industry is now running as it should – and what are the knock on risks given the fragility of the world economy?

It’s a broken model struggling still.  I wish there were more convergence on what’s best for the world and not just the elite.

42.   How can we help design roles and organisations that make the most of people?

Listen, learn, let go.  We need – by we I mean all people at work – to activate our most imaginative, brave and curious selves.  Listen – to what others are saying and sharing that may influence your own desires.  Learn – experiment, experience and research those who are changing things.  Let go – we need to (as Alvin Toffler predicted in Future Shock) unlearn.  Letting go of things that no longer serve us well or service our needs must happen.  There are people doing this (check out WorldBlu.com and the Corporate-rebels.com for 2) so join in with them and help make the world’s biggest work-based redesign happen.

43.   What are the implications of the current level of gender imbalance within the tech sector over the next decade?

Bad.  We need more diversity of everything in tech.

44.   Much of the technology we utilise on a day to day basis would struggle to meet most people’s definition of an ethical supply chain. When do we start making different purchasing decisions?

Fairphone are trying.  And so we should keep the pressure on those who are being ethical in their supply and materials utilisation.  Again, see Justin Dillon’s work on Made In A Free World as an example.

45.   What are the best sources of information on the changing world of work and how can we ensure the independent voices are heard when organisations with the biggest budgets will be looking to exploit this space?

Each other.  Social Networks are the best form of pulsating insight ever.  Find the people, find the research, find the examples.  They’re normally not found on the mass media sites but in blogs on Medium, Twitter chats, SlideShare decks etc.

46.   People frequently talk about wanting more equality and higher living standards for others – yet how many people would give up, for instance, 25% of their salary in order to improve the living standards of others?

I think it’s more than giving up salary.  It’s channeling your political activism.  It’s supporting community and local groups.  It’s tough as time is hard to find but that’s my recommendation.  Don’t just chuck money at it.  Human endeavour will help more.

47.   How will we filter content effectively in the future and how open to abuse is that filtering process?

How much do you rely on the ethics of an algorithm which may enforce the echo chamber mindset?  I think filtering tools are already there and are already coming under scrutiny for what they filter.  Something like Wikipedia will probably pop up as an open-source community of hackers providing an Anonymous-like filtering tool to keep you in the driving seat of your autonomous media feed.

Did that even make sense?

48.   How do the business role models of the future act?

There’s a ton of them so they need to act in a symphony.  If we look at music we need to world to be like the Proms meets Glasto meets Ministry meets Madame Butterfly .  A collection of varying models, formats and approaches that are constantly evolving for better.  So they ACT like a planet full independent but interlinked eco-systems.  I’d like to see them all adopt a triple-bottom line though: best for the organisation and its people; the community and their people; the planet and all people.

49.   People cry when their pets die. What will be the first piece of technology that you cry over the loss of?

What kind of question is that to lead with..?  I won’t cry over any tech loss.  I will get angry and jubilant over some tech.  I will cry over the loss of compassion and tolerance that over-use of tech might bring us.

50.   If you had one contribution to make to making things just a little better over the next decade what would it be? 

Be part of something that boosts the way we educate each other for a more uncertain future.


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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately – which may or may not reflect other people’s view on the world we’re in.  We’ve been bombarded with events that are worrying, troublesome and downright despicable.  And I keep coming back to leaders.  Who are our the leaders in our world – stewards of direction and channellers of energy and those who focus our attention?

Whoever they are, they’re not doing that good a job of things at the minute as the world seems a more chaotic and damaged place this past few weeks.  Yet I’ve not been outwardly critical and have been looking for 2 things instead.  Intent and attitude.

Whether we need more of it or not, thinking and being philosophical on things isn’t easy, is sometimes derided (stop thinking, start doing) and challenges us in a world we can’t seem to make sense of hourly let alone weekly.  Yet thinking and taking a philosophical approach is probably needed now more than ever.  I was filled with anger on 23rd June at what had happened the day before in the country of my birth and residence.  I was filled with sadness at what happened in Turkey and continues to happen in the Middle East.  I was filled with despair over people’s actions in light of the referendum vote and the shootings and deaths in the USA I simply cannot quite believe.

I needed philosophy and thinking space and time more than I had done in a long long time.

I needed it and I revelled in it.  I withdrew from the world and I got on with trying to work out my emotions, feelings and put them into words so I could make some sense and get on with the doing bits of life.

I questioned my intent and attitude a lot.  I wanted to know what I thought of as important and what was now demanding my attention.  What was my intent on seeking answers when there was nothing but emotional anguish racing through my soul.  Well my intent was to not overreact.  Not to join in with something I then couldn’t back out of.  To not burn bridges and create stand offs and controversy that I wasn’t really ready for.  I asked myself what was my attitude during all this.  It bordered on arrogance, despair, judgement, disgust a range of things I don’t normally have to process.  And I checked in my attitude and I made it good.  Better.  More philosophical.  Only now can I address some thoughts of “what next?”  Only this week have I been able to make plans and start doing.  My attitude – it seems – is now one of determination, calmness, resolve and inclusion.

My intent now is to continue to make a positive difference in whatever way I can.  I have restored my faith in grasping complex issues and making sense of them in my world and in my way.  My intent is to be a participant in better.

I thought back to leaders I’d been around when things were tough.  I replayed scenarios in my mind and I looked for their intent and their attitudes.  Some were found wanting and had played an irrational, emotionally charged and controlling set of cards.  Some were found to be considered, let emotions be known but weren’t afraid to be uncommitted until they were ready and they had a clear grasp on the implications of their decisions on a better future.

So i found myself in appreciative recognition of those 2 words.  Intent. Attitude.  I looked then into those around me and their actions and words and sought out their intent and analysed and deduced their attitudes based on what I could as evidence.  I found many wanting and reacting in counter-productive even narcissistic and divisive ways.  I also found some with compassion, reason and focus that made sense to not only me but to the world I woke up in several weeks ago.

In this pacy world the pressure is on to form an opinion and make a call as quickly as possible for the time is now.  I still think there are times when we need pace and expedience.  And yet my own soul – healed somewhat through contemplation and thought – would say otherwise. Don’t rush unnecessarily.  I needed to show some emotion but I didn’t want to create a shit-storm of words that would box me in and create more grief not less.  I wanted to share what I wanted and keep what I didn’t.  I wanted people to know that glib wasn’t helpful and nor was gloating.  I wanted people to know that only.  Not what the final words were or the uptick of considered thinking was now like in descriptive terminology.  

And again, I thought of leaders.  Who people look up to when they can’t make sense of something and want others to guide the way.  They too need time to think, reflect, pause, consider and if that’s the case – tell people that and join in with them about the only certainty being there is a lack of certainty.

When this happens we might see their intent and attitude as enough for now.  Intent will show there is not ignorance or denial but intent to resolve.  That will do for now.  Attitude might show I’m pensive because it’s not clear.  I’m not committing because it’s too dangerous.  And that will do for now.

We’ll have a lot more challenges and anxiety to come maybe, but if we can be clear on our intent (and may need to be clearer as it forms into more cohesive references) and we can trust through a just and true attitude (which again, may alter as things become more known and clarified) then that will do for now.

We can learn a lot about ourselves when we question our own intent and our attitude to situations.  We can learn an awful lot about others when we do the same thing.  I guess my urge with this piece is that in lieu of certainty, clarity or comfort take heed from the mild inquisition into your own and others intent and attitude.  

My intent for this piece is to bring productive, thoughtful comfort to troubled times.  My attitude is to share and stimulate these words for the good of us all.  In a spirit of togetherness that transcends labels and percentages.  

I’m therefore standing by my intent and finding solace in my attitude.  I’ll be looking for the best of that in others too.  Especially those leading anyone else.


I’m chuffed to be going to, and being a part of, All About People.  Andy Swann and others are going to light up our brains, warm our hearts and fuel our souls with stories of organisations and places that are, All About People.

I’m even more chuffed to be hosting/facilitating a different kind of panel session.  One where the audience is as much the panel as a small team of “experts”.  David d’Souza and I will be working the room (he may not even know this yet – he’s expecting it to be a normal panel thing).

I’ve put the flow of the audience/panel session below so if you want to join in on Twitter or Facebook (#AAPConf) and be part of the virtual panel – here’s what we’ll be talking about and creating some thoughts and ideas about.

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It is, after all, not about a panel of people but ALL ABOUT PEOPLE.


WorldBlu Freedom at Work Summit 2016 (aka The Power Question summit) closed on 11 May with what can only be described as a moving, powerful and insightful series of speakers and activities.  Plus a Night of Honour that was truly a celebration of the best of the freedom-centred, democratic workplace fraternity.

We started with a piece of history in Arun Gandhi.  Grandson of Mahatma and leader of the Arun Gandhi Institute (arungandhihl.org).

Describing – so eloquently as you’d expect – the impact of violence in the world we are in.  And not just physical violence but behaviour that is violent to the planet and to humanity.  Stories of mischief in his youth were then beautifully annexed the frame of penance not punishment.  Punishment being considered a violent act and penance a retribution of non-violent consequence.  When an everyday white lie was exposed, instead of punishment, his father insisted on an 18-mile walk home as penance for his (Arun’s) misdemeanour.  So guilt ridden was Arun, he drove at a slow pace following his father.  

Lying caused him spiritual pain through penance and not through physical short-term resentful punishment.

When Arun uttered the “be the change you wish to see in the world” phrase you couldn’t stop yourself from feeling his Grandfather’s legacy and the impact of this oft-quoted phrase was not lost – it was amplified.  It had true meaning.

“How do you follow Arun Gandhi as a speaker?”  said our next storyteller Sam Chaltain.

Well, you do so by touching people’s souls with a message of hope and imagination in the world of education.  Wonder (wonderbydesign.org) is a challenger organisation (my words not Sam’s) who are creating a modern education system fit for the 21st century and our future.

Metaphorically, the opening slide – and highly emotional short film – of a murmuration of starlings gave us a sound basis for our thoughts and Sam’s words.  Human beings are not programmable vessels we are complex and adaptive and our systems for learning need also to be fit for that complexity and adaptiveness.  It’s like the worlds of Organisation Development and education collided in my head for the first time.  I had a bit of moment about that.  Something I love and know/work in and something I love and want desperately to improve and change but don’t know how suddenly felt like two forces of gravity on the same planet.

An organisation that looks to set learners free of restrictive homogenous curricula? (again my words not Sam’s). An organisation that will convert a disused warehouse into a magnificent learning space.  An organisation that teaches through projects not subjects.

And then we have the looming Singularity : The coming together of the human and the machine intelligence and capability – the ability to have recursive self improvement.

If we have enough problems educating people in the world of now, how on EARTH are we going to educate our children in this technologically advancing world?

And for whatever hype you think sits in and around the concept of the Singularity, there’s some pretty sharp predictions that this will be with us from 2040 – in the shape of us no longer being able to comprehend the technology we have is actually capable of.  Quantum dilemma ahead.

And leaving us with the most moving of films aboard a kayak watching a murmuration of starlings form and shape the sky was the perfect metaphorical end for something about individuals being shaped by life instead of individuals that are shaped by a system.

Moving stuff I can barely convey in words because emotions genuinely took me over in listening to this amazing story of what we should all be thinking about: education and children.

And as if that’s not enough we then took another step into an amazingly dark world of slavery across the world.  Children – mostly – but adults taken away from their free lives and put to work for nothing more than rudimentary living standards and threats of punishment and persecution.  

Justin Dillon talked of his journey through being in a band to discovering his purpose: to expose the slavery that exists in most every product we normally purchase and consume.  Made In A Free World is his enterprise aiming to expose those companies who have a traceable 100% ethical footprint.

That Justin emailed Steve Jobs about precious metals in Apple products and got a reply is testament to the power in this area.  

Not just a nice poster campaign and a movement of principle but a set of makers who can be relied on with products that are free from slavery.  And a tool for industries to check if their supply chain is high, medium or low risk of some form of slavery in the acquisition of materials, labour or supply.

A moving film showing a little 9 year old boy freed from slavery working moved us all to tears; when asked what do you want to be when he grows up he pointed at Justin: “like him” he said.

No child or adult deserves to work in dangerous or unhealthy conditions and absolutely no-one should be working in slavery of any kind.  Justin’s mission is to help people not just in those conditions but those who unknowingly perhaps, help it continue.

It makes you wonder at the state of the world and how money drives people to do such cruel things as trick teenagers into being trafficked and steal children from their parents.  As money is the catalyst for this to happen, money and choice can overcome it and make it truly a thing of the past.

So this was a pretty moving experience.  

And when we needed a hero, up pops the most humble sort; activist of the Occupy movement in Hong Kong Benny Tai.  A real sense of spirited journey through political and controlling administrations post the handover of Hong Kong to China from the UK.  Benny shared his most troubled times leading a movement to challenge the Government on democracy.

And yet it wasn’t about him, it was about those with him.  Benny is a force of nature but it is clear that you can see he is inspired by his mission, his beliefs and the people who join him.  To answer the call from the Lords of History is quite some personal feat.

And a yellow umbrella that signalled the resistance to force and power was most poignant.

And we weren’t done yet because those organisations that form the WorldBlu list and community had their turn.  Nathan Donaldson, Ed Wesley and Garry Ridge all underscored what freedom at work was about.  A bit of a fast-forward from slavery-supporting capitalism to a form of more humane and conscious commercial application, Boost, DreamHost and WD-40 are making good on their operating mode by being inclusive, imaginative and working without fear in hiring/letting go decisions; change and restructure and a culture of learning and support.

It’s not easy being human.  Especially in the working world we occupy now.

It’s not easy taking on the system, racketeers, a profit only mentality, controlism, fear-inducing power-hungry leaders, helping scared people and children.

It’s easier with a full heart, a clear head and emotional drive and belief though.  We need other people to help us do this and the WorldBlu community and its associations with Made In A Free World, Occupy and WonderByDesign are all showing us that the movement is to be respected and regarded.  Admired and enhanced.

We all live in a complex, adaptive system.  We all need to be aware of that and work with flow to bring the best from that complexity and be adaptive to the changes we need to make the world a really good place to be for us all.  Starting with our own self, our schools and our workplaces.  It’s becoming imperative we all work towards better and not just more.

Watch out world – freedom is coming to get you.

So I’ll leave you with Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” for that’s what we all felt after the most amazing WorldBlu summit experience.

Birds flying high you know how I feel

Sun in the sky, you know how I feel

Breeze drifing on by, you know how I feel.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me.

And I’m feeling good.