SHIFTNEWS // EPISODE #2
Time seems to be moving pretty fast or not at all these days. Depending on the perspective. For me, it has been a hell of a ride in the entrepreneurial roller coaster in the Pandemia theme park. So again, I hope to provide some food for thought, tools to change the world, and a little insight in the world of SHIFTSCHOOL. Thanks for tuning in.
1 // WISDOM OF THE KRAUT
(a little different editor’s note strictly guided by serendipity)
The times, they are a-changin! But our organizations are not. This is how I often felt when watching the news. While some now wonder whether it is even possible to change the outdated systems and their aging managers and politicians, others are looking forward to using this lack of competence for their advantage. As we all know, there is good money to be made from other people’s ignorance.
The slower the transformation, the better. An entire industry has emerged showing people how to get a grip on digitization. Selling everything from technological solutions up to every method that somehow looked agile and innovative. And before anyone can ask if it actually worked, the merry band moves on and offers the next promising solution.
All this sounds good, but the results are rather sobering. And the shortcomings of the past year have unmistakably revealed what is missing. It’s not the technology, nor the multitude of new methods, nor the new way of working. But only the will to really, really change things. At the heart of the dilemma we still believe that transformation can be obtained at zero cost. Or to put it another way: We only want to have the colorful, glittery things that change has to offer. Everything that is fun, but not what is painful. What seemed to be a good show in the glare of the spotlight now turns out to be fake change. The pandemic gave us an unsparing look behind the scenes and brutally showed us the backstage reality. But maybe that’s where the big opportunity lies now? cto.
2 // GRATEFUL READ
(a refurbished book club for transformative leaders)
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone
This timely book by Brené Brown taught me that courage and vulnerability are one and the same. We all know that there is no change inside our comfort zones. But at the same time we fear to make the step outside. The metaphorical step into the wilderness. Brené Brown introduced this picture that beautifully captures how all innovators make themselves vulnerable by exposing their ideas to criticism. This book taught me how to accept this fact and better cope with the loneliness of a creator. Or as Brené has put it “it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”
This book has been also a true inspiration to challenge the way I think about cultivating true belonging in our members. The wilderness metaphor also led to the ‘Towards a better Purpose’ program that we first prototyped in the Finnish wilderness in 2019 and now is an integral part of the SHIFTSHAPER Trek – teaching people to work on their 5 elements to survive their very own wilderness.
3 // FLEXICON
(a Shiftshaper’s guide to the 21st century and beyond)
\ kə-ˈlek-tiv lē-dər-ˌship \
In order to address global challenges, our paradigm of leadership must transform. It should no longer focus on the capacity of the individual only, but needs to become the capacity of a collective. A capacity of leaders who join forces to become catalysts for change. Complexity as well as uncertainty require collective action, dialogue among stakeholder, and co-operation to find the best possible solutions.
- Leadership is not a place in a hierarchy but a contribution to the common good.
- Leadership is not something you are entitled to but a collective responsibility.
- Leadership is not directing output but the delivery of goals through enlisting followers.
- And leadership is not a function but describes a behavior by which people come together to pursue change.
Collective leadership thus consists of a group of people working together toward a shared goal in a network structure. No big deal: Just an idea of what the world should be, combined with the desire to make sense of experiences and interactions among stakeholders and the willingness to shape the decisions and actions to produce the desired results. It can be also seen as a relational process that produces leadership in a system by organizing individual talents in a community of change-makers who collaboratively address complex challenges.
4 // PONDER WONDER
(Troublemakers’ statements to provoke good thought)
What happened if Janis Joplin met Seneca? The good intent of quotes is lost over time and they just don’t stick for very long. That’s why we combine two troublemaker’s quotes into a short story to make people ponder a little longer …
JJ: Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches I must make amends…”
Seneca: “Oh Janet, it is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. ”
JJ: “Yes, sir, I’ve been looking around, and I noticed something: how much you really need to be loved. Ambition isn’t just a desperate quest for positions or money. It’s just love – lots of love.”
Seneca: “You got it, and if you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.”
5 // DAYDACTICS
(eclectic didactics for everyday life)
SHIFTSHAPER TREK (aka Hero’s Journey)
In our search for the right leitmotiv for our club, we ultimately got hooked on the concept of the Hero’s Journey that has been the template for so many myths, sagas, and Hollywood blockbusters. It represents the guiding principle for a transformation story involving a hero who goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed or transformed.
But since words make attitudes, we had to rework the terminology: First of all, we are convinced that not only heroes should tell their stories, but also heroines. And second, transformation is more than courage, strength and noble character traits. In an age of complexity the paradigm of the leader as the lonesome “hero” is outdated. That’s why we prefer to call them Shiftshapers – or persons (f/m/d) who do not change things by fighting the existing reality but by building new models that make the existing models obsolete.
Moreover, the term “journey” seemed a little worn out, too. And it is pointing in the wrong direction: a journey has become something that you do for pleasure, something that should be nice, comfortable and convenient. However, true transformation is not a cruise. We need to be willing to get down to the nitty-gritty, also facing up to the unpleasant questions. It is a trip that can be arduous sometimes, that involves difficulties or tough decision making. That is why we think trek is the better expression.
The SHIFTSHAPER TREK therefore represents a personal transformation story. And our brains like stories of change. Unexpected change makes us curious. Whether it is good or bad, we want to know the outcome. This anticipation is a powerful trigger that we can make use of. The quest is “Finding out who we are” by stepping out into the wilderness and questioning ourselves. Every Shiftshaper will have to go on the same trek: from the ordinary world, seeking adventures, changing, learning and building new attitudes, before coming back home transformed. Happy to welcome you aboard 🙂
Thank you for reading. Happy to discuss my thoughts with you