SHIFTNEWS // EPISODE #4
This is episode #4 – the summer edition. Time to ask if Covid actually sped up transformation, how to create some big magic, what it takes to run a good experiment, and to find out what Greta Thunberg and Buckminster Fuller have in common. All necessary ingredients for a lifestyle of continuous learning. Have a great summer!
1 // WISDOM OF THE KRAUT
(a little different editor’s note strictly guided by serendipity)
The pandemic seems to give us a summer break. A good time to ask what has actually become of the digitization euphoria at the beginning of the pandemic?
In the course of my current research, I have (re)read many comments, articles and contributions about the infamous digital transformation. Let’s recapitulate: social media celebrated the virus as the new CIO, new work pundits declared the home office the new normal and some even saw a new New Age of New Work dawning.
Sorry for party pooping – but a look behind the scenes leads me to believe the exact opposite. I don’t think that the majority of us have yet understood what digital transformation means for the future (the mass rollout of MS Teams has little to do with it). While digitization ends both the spatial and temporal limitations of work, HR still wants to control where and when work is happening. Even though digitalization increasingly blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, the usual corporate suspects still invest lots of energy in closing themselves off to protect their accomplishments. And management still believes they can control uncertain outcomes with outdated KPIs – despite the VUCA crash course they all had in the last year.
Digital leadership is the new deck name to supposedly steer sovereignly into the future (inside you find little new though). Instead of leaping forward, I have the impression that the self-acclaimed digital leaders use the celebrated digital tools to roll back to “good-ol’ taylored” efficiency, where Bottom does what Top thinks. That is as far as we can get from New York (RIP Frithjof). I am afraid that Upton Sinclair was right:” It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” cto
2 // GRATEFUL READ
(a refurbished book club for transformative leaders)
BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear
This small, spiritual book by Elizabeth Gilbert is a guide to find your creative genius and give it the room to blossom despite what our inner fears might tell us. A good inspiration to challenge our attitudes and rethink our habits to live a more creative life.
No matter if you are more on the materialistic or idealistic side of things, this book provides a lot of straight talking insights of what it means to live a creative life.
It is one of the most honest discussions about the creative process that I’ve ever read.
Don’t be confused by the playful and conversational tone though. Gilbert does away with the unrealistic expectations attributed with creativity. She asks us to approach our creativity with curiosity and openness, with playfulness and joy— even when things get difficult. Even when there is no cheering audience and immediate reward waiting for us. Liz Gilbert taught me that I must own my creativity and also stay light with it. Every time self-doubt and inner fear try to take over the steering wheel, this book reminds me that I need to do what I naturally feel compelled to do without letting fear stop me from doing it.
Keen on this book? Let’s buy local, like here.
3 // FLEXICON
(a Shiftshaper’s guide to the 21st century and beyond)
\ ik-ˈsper-ə-mənt \
“We simply have to run more experiments” is lightly said, but heavily implemented. The lean-startup-innovation mumbo jumbo tries to sell it as the secret sauce to corporate innovation. However, integrating experimental thinking into the day-to-day business is something very different than running notorious cover-my-ass pilots. It is about truly internalizing that an experiment can also be successful if something is not working. In Science, an experiment is a procedure carried out to validate a hypothesis. This translates to: You conduct the trial and error game in order to gain insights about the assumptions you had in the beginning. This means: There is no experiment without a hypothesis. That means good questions are key. And the better the questions are, the more you will learn, no matter if the outcome is positive or not. And “asking good questions” is not just a skill, it is an attitude towards business.
Experiments can be both a competitive advantage and the starting point of next curve innovations. Only if they are not conducted every once in a while but in a frequent manner. Experimenting in a fixed design thinking session will not do. We have to make experimentation a habit: constantly trying new things and driving a portfolio of experiments to reduce risks. Becoming an experimenter therefore is about learning a method but learning not to be perfect. Experimenting is unlearning, relearning and keep doing that over and over. Start the process of learning as fast as possible.
4 // PONDER WONDER
(Troublemakers’ statements to provoke good thought)
What would happen if climate activist Greta Thunberg and futurist Buckminster Fuller exchanged thoughts on how to change the world for good. The good intent of single quotes doesn’t stick for long. That’s why we combine two troublemakers’ quotes into a short story to make people ponder a little longer …
Bucky: “Human beings always do the most intelligent thing… after they’ve tried every stupid alternative and none of them have worked.”
Greta: “The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”
Bucky: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Greta: “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change – and it has to start today.”
5 // DAYDACTICS
(eclectic didactics for everyday life)
LEARNING AS A LIFESTYLE
Lifelong learning is necessary, but not sexy. Because many of us perceive learning as a necessary evil, as a means to an end, in order to achieve something professionally. Something that had to be done and was often dull and boring.
But what if we could see learning as something that makes us happier, because we can continuously develop, throwing old beliefs overboard and replacing them with new ones? What if we could integrate cognitive and emotional development into our daily lives just as we do sports? What if it became as natural as paying attention to our diet? What if learning was suddenly cool?
Just as Software as a Service has made the traditional software licensing model obsolete, we should change education as we know it today and make learning sexy again. Instead of SaaS, we need LaaL >> Learning as a Lifestyle. We urgently need a new paradigm to make us fit for the 21st century. For me, Learning as a Lifestyle is the answer to how we can keep moving and adapt in this rapidly changing world. It’s more than just an empty lifelong learning buzzword or a discouraging token. LaaL is the holistic promise of keeping our minds as fit as our bodies and souls. It is, in a sense, the personal trainer for the mind. In a way that is exhausting, but also deeply satisfying and fun when you get the results you want.
If you want to find out what LaaL is really about, please check out our workshop „Learning as a Lifestyle – It’s not what you know, but how you think.” that we are running together with our partner from the PANDA leadership network.
Thank you for reading. Happy to discuss my thoughts with you