Hey game-changer,

We are back out there workshopping. Check out the upcoming dates below. Next opportunity to experience the community spirit is the new weekend retreat SHINE in October! Places are still available. Besides that, you can look forward to reading about gender Brainstreaming, how to keep going with Austin Kleon, a new quote battle with Sam Harris and Vironika Wilde, and learning why following the rules doesn’t make an innovator.
Enjoy the ride!


(upcoming rooms for improvement)

SHINE / last call /
The Retreat Weekend Schnitzmühle /
Exclusive small group reflection experiences deeply ingrained in nature /
join the session on October 21-23, 2022 //

SHIFT / now open /
The Growth Path Towards Personal Purpose /
Transformative self-leadership experience aiming at personal mastery and excellence /
next start January 2023 //

SHAPE / ready now /
The Transformative Leadership Trek /
hybrid learning experience prepares you to adapt and succeed in this rapidly changing world /
next start April 2023 //


(a little different editor’s note strictly guided by serendipity)
Gender, or gender not.

That is the question. In times when reactionary slogans and anger battles dominate the discussion, it is time to halt and think before shouting out loud. I believe a constructive discussion of the topic is more than overdue. I’m not part of any (public) institution nor do I have any political agenda. So, as an entrepreneur, I can simply decide for myself if I want to gender or not and how to do it. Period.

And here is how I choose to do it. As a leadership trainer, I am shown every day how language shapes behavior and thus also cultures. If you want real change, you have to take language into account.

For this reason, I gender out of full conviction. Not always with asterisks, but with a lot of alternation between he and she (as it is now standard in many English-language publications) and with the full scope our languages have to offer. It’s not perfect, but it works, and if you don’t like it, you don’t need to read or listen to it . It’s all about perception – as it always is in any transformational setting. Only when I perceive that there is a problem (and inequality and lack of diversity is a great problem to me), I am willing to work to solve this problem. End of message. cto


(a refurbished book club for transformative leaders)
Keep Going:
10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

by Austin Kleon

I really try to cut down on the amount of new books I buy. Unless I really want to keep that book it will be borrowed, swapped or read digitally. However, there are some books that are really worthwhile keeping. And the series of creative inspiration books by Austin Kleon is definitely in that category.

Austin Kleon has been accompanying me since the early days of SHIFTSCHOOL. Since then, Kleon, who regards himself as “a writer who draws,” has been one of my great inspirations. I regularly pick up his artsy books “Steal like an Artist” and “Show your work” whenever I need a soulmate to kindle my creativity.

However, inspiration is only part of the game. At times, what we need (and deserve) is just the exact opposite: someone telling us to continue no matter what. In his latest work “Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad” Austin provides just that.

This book lifts me up, soothes me, and then pushes me, kindly but firmly, out the door to do exactly what I thought I would never have the tenacity to finish. This book is both a bucket full of solace and a creative kick in the butt.

His 10 tips in “Keep going” are kept short and sweet as usual. Some advice may even seem plain and simple. However, I have made the experience that the simple things are often the hardest to implement – but yield the most effect. His beautifully crafted work manages to put together the tried and true in such a way that his books are a source of motivation and inspiration.

I highly recommend buying and keeping all three of his books. But to get started, go with “Keep going.” It is exactly what poor battered creative souls need in these wild times (Heikki I hope you read this!). Enjoy the read and just keep….going (especially in the bad times).

Keen on this book? Let’s buy Austin Kleon’s book local.



(a Shiftshaper’s guide to the 21st century and beyond)



\ hə-ˈrī-zᵊn \


What is a horizon? Normally, we think of the apparent junction of earth and sky. Secondarily, we then think of a horizon as a range of perception or experience. In the sense of “a limited horizon” or “expanding a horizon”. And isn’t transformation about expanding the horizons of the imaginable?

The dictionary also teaches us that horizon can also be used when we want to describe something we might attain in the future. Something we would normally describe as a vision. But visions have been the subject of much deception. They are often only the lowest common denominator, where in fact big, bold steps would be required. Soft-boiled, smoothly ironed and carefully sanded off verbalizations that don’t signify anything. Soulless grammar on glossy websites does not move people.

But wouldn’t we rather need rougher edges and unconventional thinking to really change things?

The time to preserve the status quo is over. Instead we need to create a holistic picture that considers the interests of all. Short-sighted problem solving will eventually lead to mediocrity and vague promises lack the aspiration to really, really change something.

Most “Vision Making” encapsulates the Now, extrapolating what we have now into a future version of this very present. However, black swans laugh at our data collections of the past. When we imagine future states we need to take into account that the future future is even less predictable than before (It probably never was even if we always wanted to make ourselves believe this.)

It‘s close to impossible to build future scenarios in VUCA environments and it‘s even harder to condense uncertainty into a compelling statement. This is why we need a different approach when we need to decide which road to take.

No one has a crystal ball. But everybody can tell a story of how we want our future to look like. We can start from scratch, leave all the complexity aside, and describe how we imagine the result of transformation. In a detailed and descriptive manner. This description does not provide a clear answer, but defines a direction. A cardinal point where to start the journey.

It is highly unlikely to reach the future state that we have imagined before. We might not even get close. But it provides direction that everybody can follow. We might even fail and get wet. But eventually the journey takes us to some other, better place.

In order to get going, we need a place to start and a direction to head to. Goals lead us to the impression that we want to achieve, with a horizon we know that this is never possible. But we know where to set sail and then we feel liberated to rethink things independently of outdated convictions.


  • Expressive Leadership
    the art of forming unity by means of storytelling
  • Directive Purpose
    the craft of shaping legacy, ideas and business into a meaningful whole
  • Predictive Re-Creation
    the ability of detecting trends and imagining possible future scenarios

HORIZON is the second dimension in the SHAPE® Framework. In case you have missed the first dimension you might also look up Sovereignty in our Flexicon.



(Troublemakers’ statements to provoke good thought)
When Sam met Vironika

Time to look at the importance of self awareness. We have gathered two outspoken and awakened personalities to shed a little light on how to train the mind. The self-acclaimed tree hugger, activist, poet, and queer activist Vironika Tugaleva (aka Vironika Wilde) and the one and only neuroscientist became philosopher morphed to super podcast intellectual Sam Harris.

Vironika: “To know yourself, you must sacrifice the illusion that you already do.”

Sam: “My mind begins to seem like a video game: I can either play it intelligently, learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again.”

Vironika: “Self-awareness is like eating, breathing, sleeping. There will be no fireworks, no miracle transformation. Instead you will experience a slow, conscious, and often painful unraveling of your highest potential.”

Sam: “Your mind is the basis of everything you experience and of every contribution you make to the lives of others. Given this fact, it makes sense to train it.”



(eclectic didactics for everyday life)
The SHU-HA-RI of Learning

The Japanese call it SHU – HA – RI. Or “follow the rule”, “break the rule” and “be the rule”. What this wisdom actually wants to tell us is: stick to the rules until you are sure that you can make up your own rule at some point. So far, so good.

There is certainly a lot to this wisdom. It is easy to understand and it sounds plausible. For this reason, it has become a didactic blueprint in the innovation industry. A panacea for getting everyone up to speed as quickly as possible. In innovating and agilization and in new working. However, what started out in Scrum as a philosophy of ‘think different’ quickly became the Art of Earning Twice in Half the Time. The rules of Design Thinking, Lean Startups and Agile working have now been told a million times and in many cases even certified.

The only problem is that people always focus on the SHU. Because it is just so nice and simple (and the easiest way to make money). Explaining the rules to someone briefly and then leaving her alone does not make her a player. Knowing the rules simply is not playing the game.

What good is it if I know the rules of a game that nobody wants to play?

I will not become a good chess player if I learn the rules once. I will only become a good chess player if I play a lot, learn from others, and get opportunities to rethink and develop my strategy. Playing by the rules doesn’t get you where you want to be. This is not the fault of the game itself, but the fault of the players. I need to experiment, develop stamina, and change plans in order to develop excellence. If I don’t offer the set and setting for this, we will never get anywhere close the HA, let alone the RI.

We can keep explaining the “supposed” rules of the game of change to people for as long as we want. If no one bothers to think about what happens after the rules are explained, we can really save ourselves the effort (and the money). Someone who operates by memorized rules will never become a game changer. But maybe that’s exactly the goal. So that everything can stay the way it is.

Please visit our Leadership Guidebook for Century 21

  • Unconventional interviews with outstanding changer makers
  • Transformation wiki
  • and a collection of all newsletter articles
Shiftschool Guidbook

Happy to discuss my thoughts with you 

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