E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Hippie 2.0

On the Road Again, on Another Special Day

Today, March 17th 2013, is St. Patrick’s Day. So while the rest of the world has already embarked on a massive celebration (Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way!!), I am also celebrating something rather special, so I thought I would let folks out there know about it, since I keep getting asked time and time again. No, it’s *not* my birthday, as the Social Web keeps proclaiming to the world and beyond. Actually, I have lied on the Social InterWebs, because my birthday already took place a few weeks back. However, on the Web, and a few years ago already, I updated all of my social networking profiles to put an incorrect birth date, just because I didn’t feel the world needed to know that personal detail. Oh, not to worry, I am not too fussed about my age, 41 this year, but it’s the principle that with that accurate date and a couple of other details people could impersonate you and steal your identity. So I thought I would lie about it and instead pick up a date that still is rather special and dear to me: St. Patrick’s Day.

Why is March 17th such an important date to yours truly?, you may be wondering, right? Well, mainly because 9 years ago, exactly today, I moved from The Netherlands to Gran Canaria, my home base, making it by now the second longest time that I have ever lived in a place, outside of my parents home. So, in a way, it is my home, don’t you think? That’s right! I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to be able to make it for that long, but I guess that once you settle in a place and you decide that’s going to be it, it kind of becomes a special place. One that is part of you, and you are part of it. And that, to me, is Gran Canaria. 

I guess time flies pretty quickly when you are having fun, right? Because even though it looks like as if it was yesterday, with the odd blink here and there, it’s already been 9 years since I moved to the island. And I wouldn’t change a single one of those years. It does feel like a re-birth, for sure, since when it happened I was going through one of those life changing experiences that you know you are going to bump into at some point in your life that makes you question and wonder about the small things, i.e. you know, the things that matter. So, perhaps in a way, I am celebrating today my re-birthday after all. Who knows… 

The thing is that life works in mysterious ways and does magical and wonderful things, because how ironic it is that today I’m celebrating that 9th year anniversary of having moved to Gran Canaria, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where I am staying for a couple of days to participate and present at the Congres Intranet 2013 (#intra13 is the Twitter hash tag, if you would want to follow it up over the next couple of days…). Yes, I know, very ironic, isn’t it? 

Anyway, it’s still a wonderful celebration and I just couldn’t help dropping by over here in this blog and, like every year, share a short note of appreciation for how much of an impact such a tiny island can have in a person, like myself and everyone else who may have lived or visited there. So perhaps I thought I would share over here a couple of snapshots that would give you a glimpse of why Gran Canaria has got a special place in my heart for over the last 9 years and still going strong … 

 Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes

 Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo

 

And those pictures surely remind me of the warm weather that I am already missing while over here in Utrecht, where it’s rather cold [Brrr] despite spring being just around the corner! So I guess it will also help me as an incentive of what awaits me in a couple of weeks when I return back home. Yes, that’s right, Utrecht is not the only city I’m going to visit during this business trip. I’m going to be on a little bit of a European Tour that will take me in a couple of days to Paris (Where I will be attending and presenting at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit – Follow the hash tag #e20s on Twitter, if you would be interested), then from there onwards on to Leuven, Belgium, to present at BLUG (#blug) and over the coming weekend onto Prague, to present as well at the Heutagogy Conference event on March 27th. 

Goodness! I told you, a little bit of a European Tour, wasn’t it? I am excited already and I haven’t started it just yet! Either way, like I said, in two weeks time I will be enjoying the lovely warm weather, the lovely people, the lovely food from the one island that decided to become my new home 9 years ago: Gran Canaria.

Thus happy re-birthday to me!


PS: As usual, if you are going to be around any of those cities while I’m on the road, throughout this business trip, and would want to meet up for a drink or a coffee, or even a quick “Hi!”, feel free to reach out through the usual social spaces … I’m just about to end the self-inflicted Twitter and G+ silence, provoked by something I talked about a little while ago …

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The Arbejdsglaede of Employee Engagement

Gran Canaria - ArtenaraIf you have been reading this blog for a little while now, you would probably remember how concepts like Employee Engagement make me cringe a little bit. Specially, when it’s abused left and right by HR departments and corporations alike, in general, as that magic bullet that will help address and fix the number #1 business problem of today’s corporate world: employee disengagement. Or put together in simpler terms: people no longer owning or caring for their work. Don’t take me wrong, I do believe rather strongly in Employee Engagement. Seriously. I do. What I don’t believe much in is the current form of how businesses are thinking about engaging employees implying that they know better than them, that they can just throw it out there, put together some social technologies around it all and people would come and be re-engaged at work. Well, no, sorry. It doesn’t work that way. Employee engagement is a two-way street and unless both employees and employers are not willing to walk through both we won’t have it. Well, hello and welcome to the wonderful world of Arbejdsglaede!

The first time that I ever heard about Arbejdsglaede was at the rather wonderful and delightful Meaning Conference in Brighton that took place late last year and which, the conference itself, still keeps bringing up lots of very fond memories, every time that I think about how much I learned during the couple of days I stayed there and also how much I savoured the wonderful conversations I had throughout the whole time. But, like I was saying, I learned about Arbejdsglaede from Alex Kjerulf, Chief Happiness Officer (Yes, I know, gotta love job titles like that one! I do!!), while he delivered perhaps one of the most inspiring presentations I had the privilege of attending live during the course of 2012 (And perhaps in a long while, too!). 

Arbejdsglaede basically means a feeling of happiness you get at work, which, as he clearly indicates, is not the same as job satisfaction. It’s way deeper than that. It’s all about reflecting on what makes you happy at work, and, apparently, it’s just too basic things: 

  1. Results
  2. Relationships

And bang! That’s when it really hit me. That’s when I realised that true employee engagement is all about that! Focusing and repurposing your efforts as a (knowledge) worker towards striking new meaning in providing exceedingly good and top performing results, while building meaningful, empathic and caring personal business relationships. Talking about striking for that rather strong sense of ownership and co-responsibility, of belonging, really. That’s what, to me, employee engagement is all about. It’s about finding that happiness at work that clearly gives you that little bit of extra energy to get up every day and look forward to a new exciting day where you are going to, hopefully, learn, collaborate, share openly more of your knowledge (Without asking for much in return) by interacting with your (social) network(s) understanding that “happy people do better work”: “more productive, creative, helpful, better at service, focused on quality, better team-players, more open, more flexible, showing more empathy, selling more, more optimistic, motivated, engaged, energetic, with an ability to learn faster and eventually become better leaders“. 

Whoaaahhh! See what I meant with employee engagement? Now, imagine this, how many businesses out there have got those kinds of aspirations for their own employees by engaging them from the very beginning to help drive a new purpose, a new meaning for what they do at work? Something tells me that perhaps not too many. Or, at least, not enough! Why? Well, because we still have got that huge, problematic issue of 70% of our employee workforce being totally disengaged. Simple. I know, it even hurts deeply. Sad. Rather sad, really. 

Back in 2007, Alex put together a rather interesting and very much thought provoking blog post that I saw re-surfacing through my networks a few days back and that triggered me to eventually put together this blog entry. In Top 10 Signs You’re Unhappy at Work he listed what, back then, appeared to be some of the most profound signs as to why employees are not happy at work. Fast forward to 2013 and it looks like we are still seeing pretty much of the same… Allow me please to quote and list those 10 signs, while I would encourage you all to go and read the entire article. It’s just brilliant as well in how it entices you to do a little bit of a mental exercise and a test to question for yourself how happy you are at work after all… So, to quote them: 

  1. You procrastinate
  2. You spend Sunday night worrying about Monday morning
  3. You’re really competitive about salary and titles
  4. You don’t feel like helping co-workers
  5. Work days feel looooong
  6. You have no friends at work 
  7. You don’t care. About anything
  8. Small things bug you
  9. You’re suspicious of other people’s motives
  10. Physical symptoms

Fascinating read that blog post, don’t you think? I bet that vast majority of us have experienced any of those signs at some point in our so-called careers, perhaps some of us are even suffering from any, or several of those, right now, in 2013, at the time where plenty of people keep claiming that in the Social Era employee engagement through social networking tools is going to rule the world and is going to help reenergise employees again. Well, not really. It won’t. It won’t until we get our mojo back and start embracing that culture of Arbejdsglaede. Because that’s what it is all about. It’s that two-way street I talked about earlier on and that I feel is going to be incredibly important over the course of time, if not already. 

And how do we get to Arbejdsglaede, you may be wondering, right?, as the golden panacea of Employee Engagement? I have got my very own ideas on the topic, but, instead, I am going to leave it down to the master on the topic. Here’s the blog post that Alex put together where he talked a little bit about his keynote session. Then here is the link where you can download his presentation materials and, finally, here’s the link where you can spend 30 minutes (well worth it, by the way!!) watching the recording of the session where he gets to talk about some pretty compelling conclusions that I thought I would quote over here as well to see them in the wider context of re-engaging back the workforce: 

  1. Make arbejdsglaede your #1 career goal
  2. Be happy at work – not just satisfied
  3. Do something about it!

And, finally, my favourite quote on what that two-way street concept for Employee Engagement would be all about not only in the Social Era, but also on the Open Business Era: Do or do not. There is no try!

Who would have thought that Arbejdsglaede would be such a beautiful word and such a magical concept after all, in terms of re-engaging knowledge workers, doing things just right through social technologies, around openness, transparency, meritocracy, caring, empathy, trust and, above all, purpose and meaning.

Well, try now to pronounce it and be ready to chuckle! 😀

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Social Business Accelerates Work as a State of Mind

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo & Roque Bentayga from ArtenaraA few days back Scott Edinger put together a very insightful article on the topic of whether remote knowledge workers are more engaged, or not, than people working at the traditional office. The interesting thing though is how the whole concept of teleworking has been all along with us for several decades now, specially, since the emergence of groupware, collaboration and knowledge sharing solutions came about. And it looks like with the opportunity of embracing social networking tools for business that we are enjoying nowadays, there is a new rush in trying to figure out whether social technologies can finally free up knowledge workers from the yoke of the traditional office, resulting, if anything, on what I feel has been one of the main mantras behind both Social Business and the future of work meme: work is no longer a physical space, but a state of mind.

Work happens, indeed, wherever you are, whenever you need, with whatever the tools you have at your disposal, with whoever the connections you may collaborate with in getting the job done. Never before have we been capable of realising that dream of the fully empowered knowledge worker to work virtually in a more than ever distributed world than thanks to the emergence of all of these social networking tools. To the point where, finally, we are starting to see how it’s helping employees become more engaged, more participative, more collaborative, taking on a fair bit of co-ownership and responsibility for their work to levels we haven’t seen in the past just yet. And it makes perfect sense, specially, if you take into consideration how initiatives like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) have taken the corporate world by storm. However, there may well be perhaps a couple of other additional reasons altogether than those Scott has talked about on that article itself that should probably be added into the mix. 

But before we go into that and explore it a bit more in detail, and perhaps as good background for this topic of discussion, on teleworking, that is, we should not forget about the huge amount of literature, in the form of blog posts , articles, studies, research, infographics, white papers, etc. etc. that we have seen over the course of the last few months talking about the various different benefits, the perks, the advantages, the good practices and lessons learned of working remotely thanks to the extensive use of social networking tools. It’s definitely noteworthy to state how it’s perhaps, finally, moving forward in the right direction, raising the right questions: does remote working help you improve your productivity and effectiveness at what you already do? The answer seems to be on the positive side of things. Yes! And I would wholeheartedly have to agree with that assertion, at least, based on my own experience as a remote knowledge (Web) worker from over the last 10 years and counting…

We have seen as well though a few folks talking about some of the various disadvantages; nonetheless, if there is anything clear out of the whole discussion taking place is that working remotely, while remaining productive and effective enough at what you do, still raises questions, concerns and whatever other issues that have certainly kept challenging the relevance of the traditional office as well as the potential place for the virtual workplace of the future we are moving forward to. This time around, nothing to do with technology, apparently, as it’s just an enabler, as usual, but more from the perspective of culture and how in a good number of different environments teleworking not only doesn’t it get promoted nor encouraged, but eventually it gets turned off, to the point of not tolerating it, because both knowledge workers and managers have got that presumption that if you can’t see, or can’t be seen, you can’t be productive, you can’t measure the results. You see? Apparently, we are still very much inclined to measure our productivity by our sheer presence at the office rather than the results and deliverables you produce, in whatever the timeframe, wherever you may well be.

Well, that presumption may well have its days numbered, thanks to the emergence of these social networking tools, because if there is anything out there that they are very good at is at helping generate enough visibility, openness and transparency to continue working out loud, narrating your work. In short, becoming comfortable with observable work (a.k.a. #owork) by which we are seeing a fundamental shift from measuring individual performance by your mere presence at the office cubicle to measuring network / community / team performance based on the results you get to produce in a collaborative and open manner. And this is, indeed, when work is no longer considered a physical place, i.e. the traditional office, but more that state of mind: work happens around you and your networks (physical or virtual) who collaboratively share your knowledge to achieve a common goal. That is, getting the job done. 

However, with all of that said, I still think Scott missed a couple of interesting insights that I have seen over the last few years in that transition towards adopting and embracing teleworking. The vast majority of knowledge workers who are still skeptic about it are mainly so, because they haven’t experienced it themselves. They keep saying that they wouldn’t be able to do it;  that they need to be in contact with other people face to face, that they lack the discipline to stick to work related stuff, they would instead do the shopping, or the laundry or just keep the kids buzzing around. They just can’t possibly see themselves working remotely, never mind their managers, specially, those who are still living that illusion of command and control or those other managers who thrive on micro-managing their employees. Yet, they keep feeling that way, because, in reality, they haven’t tried it out themselves for a good number of weeks, months. Versus just perhaps a couple of days. 

Yes, indeed, you would need plenty of discipline, motivation, encouragement and commitment to make it work. There is no denying that. It’s not easy. Just like commuting to the physical office, one has got to set one’s mind up towards understanding that work is work and the rest is … life. And this is exactly what I think Scott is missing from his article. Two of the main key motivators for which remote workers excel at engagement, participation and collaboration with their fellow colleagues, customers and business partners: flexibility and work / life integration. 

Flexibility from the prospective that the traditional 9-5 work schedule is a thing of the past. Long gone are the traditional 8-ish working hours per day (Although we know that every knowledge worker works, sadly, more than 8 hours per day, contrary to what studies have shown as the perfect work week schedule) and instead knowledge workers, through the use of these social networking tools have become more flexible, understanding that depending on the kind of work at hand there would be times when they would be chipping in 14, 15 or 16 hours of work, but then there would be other times when things may be slowing down a bit, and they may just work 2 to 3 hours. And it would be totally fine, because thanks to that flexibility they just focus on the task at hand, versus having to keep working even if the task is completed already. That flexibility is a huge motivator and incentive for remote knowledge workers, because right there they are starting to grasp the notion of how they are in much better control of their workflows, according to their needs & wants and those of their networks. Eventually, working together to finish the job even faster and with perhaps much more quality, thanks to that network effort. 

With regards to Work Life Integration, there is very little that I can add, since I have blogged about it recently as well. But I can certainly add one other key aspect related to such integration. Notice how I am no longer talking about work life balance, since I think it’s a myth. It’s always been a myth. It’s never worked. Despite corporations trying really hard for knowledge workers to embrace such balance, in almost all cases there isn’t such a thing: work always wins. Regardless. However, with integration it is different, very different. Because what you introduce into the equation is a new key concept that’s finally making its way into the business world: choice

In particular, your choice to become a remote worker. In the vast majority of cases, it’s the knowledge workers themselves the ones who request from their managers and their day to day work to become remote workers. They are the ones who have got that initial urge to become remote employees. Some times it doesn’t get granted easily, depending on the nature of your job, whether you have got direct customer exposure, or not, whether your team is all collocated, etc. etc. Whatever the reason. But the vast majority of times it is granted. That’s when flexibility kicks in. That’s when the motivation is huge! That’s when micro-managers become servant leaders helping facilitate interactions and connections, even remotely, in order to facilitate more openness, transparency, trustworthier exchanges, etc. etc. to get work done even more effectively.

And it just works! Why? For something that most people don’t seem to realise just yet. And that’s the fact that those remote knowledge workers are the very first ones who are truly interested in being allowed to continue working remotely in the first place. So they are the first interested party in keeping up that status. For their own good, never mind that one of their teams, networks or communities. They are the first ones who will work really hard on it, because they realise that thanks to that very same flexibility and work life integration they are much more effective and engaged employees than as if they would be working from the physical office.

That’s why whenever someone asks me how I can keep up working throughout my work week from Gran Canaria, you know, paradise island, they are still surprised they can reach me any which way thanks to those various different social networking tools, instead of, say, just being on the beach. Yes, I know, I could well do that, but then again, for how long? How long would you think I would be allowed to keep such status if I weren’t the first interested party in remaining a fully empowered, networked, engaged, motivated knowledge worker?

Even more, do you think I would be allowed to work remotely, where I live, by just making use of corporate email, instead of Living “A World Without eMail“, by making an even heavier use of social networking tools? I probably wouldn’t. And understandably given that lack of openness, visibility and transparency that email provides. That, on its own, is the main reason why I keep walking the talk on becoming an engaged remote knowledge (Web) worker, because thanks to that very same flexibility and work life integration I get to enjoy, every so often, things in life like this … 

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes' Sunset

And that’s not too bad for a professional, remote, networked knowledge worker, don’t you think?

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Manifesto of the Passionate Creative Worker in the Age of Social Business

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes' SunsetThere are plenty of times, throughout our very own lives, when we bump into some wonderfully inspirational reading material(s) that, while going through them, reading them at a slower pace, with a smile on our faces, savouring each and every single word of that written piece, letting your mind go wild into deep thoughts of how profound the impact of that article may well be not just for you, but equally for those around you, that you just don’t want to finish it off any time soon, you get to realise, at that stage, that you may be reading perhaps the Top 3 article of your working lifetime.

Yes, you know, that kind of impact; that single masterpiece that will slap you left and right to wake you up, to transform your working life for good, for better, for everyone’s better, to show each and everyone of us not only why we do what we do, but also who we are for what we do. Every single day. Well, I think I may have just bumped into such crown jewel and, in case you may not have read it just yet, I would suggest you stop everything you may be doing on the side, right now, while multitasking, and read what I think is probably one of the most truly inspirational readings you would be doing this year, perhaps even in the last few years altogether. Please allow me to point you all to what I would consider an indispensable read for all of those knowledge workers out there, who would need to go for a little bit of a reminder of their own identity, as workers. Please go and enjoy reading “The Labor Day Manifesto of the Passionate Creative Worker” by John Hagel.

John, along with a bunch of really smart collaborators, has put together what I would consider some seminal, foundational piece of work on defining not just the concept of the (traditional) knowledge (Web) worker (Driven, in most cases by passion, creativity and collaborating with others sharing their own knowledge openly), but that one of the Workplace of the Future at the same time. 

To go ahead and reproduce the entire Manifesto wouldn’t probably be a smart thing to do, but I think I’m going to take the liberty of grabbing a few bits and pieces over here, so that you folks can see what I mean with foundational piece of work. The purpose, if anything, is more along the lines of paying a tribute to a genius piece of writing that is already hanging on my wall, right across my laptop, to remind me, everyday, why I come to work and why it matters. So I have decided to quote each and everyone of those mantras, highlighting some of the keywords that I have felt identified myself with all along, for years, and which I am hoping they would serve, as well, as a small teaser that would encourage you to read the rest. It’s also an exercise I want to do for myself to internalise each and everyone of those principles, so that on those weak moments that we all get exposed to every now and then, I can remember, treasure, rejoice, reabsorb, restart, and re-inspire myself to keep pushing the limits forward, because that’s what we have been rather good at all along. We just didn’t realise it till now. So here we go: 

  1. Live our lives, not someone else’s: We are the arbiters of meaning in our own lives
     
  2. Blaze new trails: “There is no established path to greatness […] We challenge the status quo, and in turn, seek out things that challenge us”

  3. Prioritize learning over efficiency: “Mistakes, while the enemy of efficiency, are the fuel for learning”

  4. Share knowledge freely: “We see each person’s enormous potential to contribute to our global knowledge base […]”

  5. Recognize that institutions exist to serve people: ” We don’t exist for institutions, they exist for us”

  6. Quit jobs that we hate: “There are too many interesting things to do in this life to waste time on things that don’t matter” (This is one of my favourite principles from the whole list put together!)

  7. Escape the trap of wasting time by being busy: “Being overscheduled, even with the best things, will cause us to miss the important things that can’t be planned, and will rob us of the most valuable opportunities of our lives”

  8. Live life for the adventure: “Life is as amazing as we make it”

  9. Stay on the edge: The people who change the world are out at the edge of their field, pushing back the boundaries of the unknown.” 

  10. Continually reinvent ourselves: “We know that passion is the key to personal growth”

  11. Never settle: Never. Ever. Not even once […] Let us join forces and help each other along the way to become better, far better, than we ever could alone

I am really hoping that such a teasing exercise would help you drop over John’s Manifesto, but at the same time take the pro-active approach of leaving a comment or two, singing up for it, making that formal commitment that you would be living your work life from here onwards embracing and celebrating each and everyone of those principles, so that we, together, can continue to up the game into bigger, greater, more meaningful things. In short, the workplace of the future. Our workplace.

I am sure at this point in time you may be wondering whether there are any examples out there that would be fully embracing and breathing the true powerful inspiring spirit of this Manifesto itself, you know, moving from the theory into the practice, and since we are talking about this in the context of business and our working lives, I thought it would be worth while sharing, perhaps, a couple of examples that have certainly made me think, a lot, about plenty of the key messages from John’s masterpiece. More than anything, because both of them truly show the potential of what we could achieve together. As one. 

The first example is another manifesto, The Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle Video, (Big thanks to my good friend Stephen Collins for sharing it along!) which is currently portrayed in another superb, rather short, video clip, that I can certainly recommend everyone to go through. It lasts for a little bit over two and a half minutes and the way it introduces itself across to everyone is with a single one liner that I am sure we can all relate to and would sign up for time and time again: Do what you love. And do it often.

The Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle Video from Holstee on Vimeo.

“Life is simple. Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion” are also some of the mantras that you will see permeating throughout the video clip, which is just perfect, because they are going to help me introduce the second example that I wanted to share with you today. This time around shared by another good friend, the always insightful and thought-provoking Dave Pollard, who pointed us out to Doing it Ourselves, where you will see a beautifully crafted, rather smart, witty and mind-boggling video clip of about 12 minutes under the suggestive heading “What the Economic Crisis Really Means – and what you can do about it“, which would sound very fitting for the current econoclypse and financial turmoil we are going through and which, once again, managed to get the Hippie 2.0 side out of me. Here is the embedded code of the video clip, so that you can see what I mean. It’s probably one of those brilliant clips that you would want to show everyone out there to explain why we are where we are, but also how we can all start reverting the tide, realign and change, for the better, on what really matters: our mere survival at this point and here is why: 

 

Finally, in a recent article, If You Were the Next Steve Jobs…Umair Haque keeps challenging us to think different, to tackle good old known problems with new eyes, new insights, new ways of working, of solving those issues, together, as one, highlighting what I feel are some of the most prominent challenges that Social Business is facing in today’s corporate world. Basically, finding a new purpose, a new meaning of wanting to do things different, a new way where sustainable and responsible growth becomes the new norm, our latest mantra; this time around though to stay with us for a while, a long while, because, after all, we have always known what to do, and how to do it. We just needed the trigger to ignite and wake up our knowledge workforce once again and bring them back to life; then the rest will come up rather easily, on its own… How? Well, how about by fully embracing and living “The Labor Day Manifesto Of the Passionate Creative Worker“, as a good starting point?  Something tells me, perhaps my Hippie 2.0 side, once again, that we wouldn’t be that far off from where we would want to head towards to in, say, the next 30 to 50 years. Don’t you think?

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Sacred Economics in a Gift Economy

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves, Mount Teide, Roque Nublo, Roque BentaygaIn the past, you may well remember how I have been putting together a good number of blog posts on a topic that I have grown to become rather interested in, and very fond of, over the course of time around the Circular Economy. You know, that kind of economic shift towards sustainable growth for everyone, even planet Earth. Well, it looks like there is a new one out there that I got introduced to, just recently, thanks to a Google Plus post by Luis Alberola referencing the excellent work from Charles Eisenstein and his rather intriguing book “Sacred Economics“. Of course, I’m talking about The Gift Economy. 

There is a lot of really good, well written, spoken, and inspiring literature around the topic of the Gift Economy. But perhaps the one that I have found the most transformational one is that one from Charles himself where he keeps talking about it in his new book Sacred Economics. This book, indeed, does look a little bit out of the ordinary, specially, when you go into the Web site and you find this rather uncompromising quote: 

In keeping with one of the main themes of the book, Charles has made the full text of the book available online as a gift. Click on the links below and enjoy. If you feel moved to send Charles a return gift, you may do so below

Of course, as intrigued as one can be, I decided to spend about 12 minutes on watching through the promotional video clip that was put together by director Ian MacKenzie and I doubt there would be anything more inspiring that you may have watched this week, perhaps this month, or, maybe, even, this year. What an absolute delight you will be embarking on if you start watching it. As a teaser, it kicks off with this absolutely stunning, and worth while living for, quote: 

“We’ve all been given a gift, the gift of life. What we do with our lives is our gift back” – Edo

Needless to say, that I would strongly encourage you all to watch further along the video, so that you can see what are some of the main key statements that Charles himself postulates not only on the video clip itself, but on the book as well. Topics like ancient gift economies, modern capitalism, the role of money on how it’s contributed, tremendously, towards “alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth“. How money is just an agreement; how it just doesn’t have any value per se; and how scarcity is built into the money system, just as much as our traditional concept of growth.

How our very own separate selfs have contributed into building a hostile environment for us as a species, in constant conflict with nature, with ourselves, with schooling (learning), with life and how we are already embarked on a ruthless self-destructive path difficult to revert back from. And in that context that’s where that gift economy kicks in. “We didn’t earn air, we didn’t earn being born, we didn’t earn our conception, we didn’t earn a planet that could provide food, we didn’t earn the sun” is just another superb quote that finishes with a rather mind-blowing affirmation: Inborn gratitude, where life is a gift and the natural response to giving / receiving a gift is gratitude. Naturally. The one we show every day.

According to Charles, in a gift society, if you have got more than you need, you give it to somebody who needs it. That’s what gives you status, a stronger sense of security. If you build up all of that gratitude people are going to take care of you, too. If there are no gifts there is no community and therefore societies become monetised. Eventually, according to him, we just can’t have community as an add-on to a monetised society. We actually have to have a need for each other, which surely makes perfect sense from the perspective of how we, after all, are social animals, with a strong sense of caring and belonging to the group. Regardless. 

His description on the video about The Shift and what it would entail is just priceless altogether on its own, finishing up with a quote that I thought was worth while mentioning over here as well, since I have mentioned it a couple of times already myself on where we are at the moment: “It’s going to be up to us, to determine at what point this wake-up plan would happen“. Remember, Awakening 2.0? Just brilliant!

Charles’ closing remarks from the video clip itself though are even much more profound ones on what’s needed to revert the tide, to aim at that significant change of how we do things, who we are as human beings, as community, and what we should be focusing on:

“[…] We have been messing around, playing with our gifts of technology and culture. And developing these gifts. Now we are coming into adulthood. And it’s time to apply them to our true purpose. At the beginning, […] it’ll be about healing the damage that’s has been done. […] We are in the business of creating miracle around Earth. […] It’s necessary. Anything even less than that is not even worth trying”

The interesting thing though is that for all of that to happen, for that shift to take place, and the sooner, most probably, the better, we may well need the current economic system to collapse and fail, big time, as my good friend, Dave Pollard, hinted out on a superb blog post under the title “Moving from Understanding and Protest to Direct Action“, where he reviewed the book  and he concluded:

If we are hugely fortunate, when the industrial growth system starts to fly apart and collapse through its own unsustainable failings (a process that’s well underway for all the attempts to cover it up), some collective of smart, generous, articulate people might start to put some of Eisenstein’s ideas to a real-life test. But I wouldn’t count on it. When things start to collapse, panic, denial, blame-seeking and reactionary thinking are more likely human responses

Probably, but, on the other hand, recent signals are starting to come out and tell us otherwise, and with various multiple flavors that are starting to become rather difficult to hide away from the common public, regardless of what mainstream media, governments or whatever other public / privates entities are trying to portrait further. A couple of them have actually become my true favorites, mainly, because they have started to show what that Gift Economy would look like in the real, and, specially, in the context of the current financial econoclypse that we are going through over here in Europe, by demonstrating that, if there is a way, we can make it. It may take some time, it may take plenty of good effort, energy, and passion, but if there is a way that we can show and demonstrate caring and sharing for one another, specially in times of need, and I mean, serious need, we will eventually find it, embrace it, apply it. Live it. 

Yes, indeed! Welcome to the Gift Economy! Where sustainable and profitable growth for everyone, including planet Earth, is now finally becoming a reality. Our communal reality. And where businesses take a new meaning in life by co-sharing that responsibility with the community to do things right and where money may no longer be the only ruling principle in town. Exciting times, my dear friends. Indeed, very exciting times … 

Have a good one everyone!


[Oh, and in case you are wondering, here’s how the gift economy would work… Charles’ book on Sacred Economics can be read entirely online for free, but I felt so inspired watching through the video, learning tons along the way, getting really excited about it, that I just purchased a copy of the book for my Kindle, as a token of gratitude for the inspiration. It *does* work!]

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Business Can’t Succeed in a World That’s Failing

Gran Canaria - Playa Las Canteras - Las Palmas de Gran CanariaOne of my favourite topics du jour is that one of the Future of Work and, more specifically, how the world of Social Networking is helping redefine it by provoking one of the most profound business transformations we have lived through in our entire history. But then again work, per se, is a whole lot more than just in a business context. Work keeps morphing at a rather rampant and unstoppable pace moving from being that physical space where things happen to become nowadays a state of mind. Work happens wherever you are, in a specific, unique and given context, with the tools you have at your disposal (and the people you may have around you to help you get it done). We are no longer restricted to the traditional office, nor a fixed top-down driven hierarchical team with a specific set of goals. We probably have got nowadays much better collaboration and knowledge sharing tools than ever before, allowing work to flow versus stagnate thanks to those unstoppable open knowledge flows amongst knowledge workers, whether inside or outside of the firewall, participating in meaningful conversations with customers, business partners, competitors, thought leaders, etc. etc. The traditional concept of the workplace is now a thing of the past. And about a good time, too! We are work. Work is us

Later on next month, on September 21st, I will be participating, as one of the speakers, at the superb Joint Alumni Conference (a.k.a. JAC 2012) event that will be taking place in Zurich and my dissertation is going to be around this very same topic, i.e. The Future of Work. Over in Google Plus I have been having an exhilarating and rather inspiring conversation with a few folks, that I would love to invite you all to check it out, drop by and leave a comment, or two, if you wish to as well (Will be using that thread live on stage!), on what I will be covering on this very same topic and while doing plenty of research on stuff that I would want to talk about I bumped into another G+ Post from my good friend Jim Hays that clearly helps redefine our traditional concept of work. And how we may need to start shifting gears and make a mental switch from what we have considered, traditionally, as work, and what lies ahead for all of us, specially, in the current turmoil and financial econoclypse we have been going through in the last few years.

I think I would just go ahead and take the liberty of embedding the screen shot over here that Jim re-shared, so you can see what I mean with that redefinition of the state of work: 

Future of Work

To quote:

If you’re unemployed it’s not because there isn’t any work – Just look around: a housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there is work to be done. So ask yourself, what kind of world has work, but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business. This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.

I am not sure what you would think about such brilliant and incredibly provocative quote, but the Hippie 2.0 side of me keeps telling me that we are probably starting to witness an unprecedented and unique opportunity to go through a massive change on how we view work and how the business world needs to start readjusting to a new reality. A new reality where if it is not an integral part of helping improve the well-being of our societies, of our qualified workers, pretty soon we are going to reach that point where we may not have those workers anymore, not even qualified ones. Which certainly helps me get reminded about a quote that I recently blogged about by Don Tapscott that I think clearly defines the main big challenge ahead for the business / corporate world of the 21st century, very much along the lines of adapt to the new reality or die in the attempt: 

Business can’t succeed in a world that’s failing

Indeed, I do strongly believe that the corporate world has been, long enough, perhaps for far too long!, totally disengaged with (knowledge) workers AND their societies. That lack of outer meaning, focus and purpose out of the short term, individualistic corporate profit (Driven by power, politics and greed, mostly) is soon reaching an end-point, if not already, whereby if businesses would want to survive in the 21st century they can no longer thrive in isolation, but must find their way to embrace and apply that so-called concept of corporate social responsibility, because otherwise knowledge workers will find a way to continue thriving without paying too much attention to the traditional business world environment.

Remember that myth of employee engagement? Well, thanks to social computing, and social networking tools, whether internal or external, we now have got a huge opportunity to revert that myth back, embed business back into society, our collective society, and continue through that learning process of redefining work to make it more human, democratised, accessible, universal, worthy, just and meaningful not only for those people who are actively working, but for everyone else altogether, as part of a single, unique ecosystem: society as a whole

Exciting times, indeed, to live through! However, let’s just not waste that opportunity (again). We may not have another one coming up soon enough… and, if anything, let’s not forget that we, the workers, are the ones redefining the workplace of the future. Let’s ensure we get it right this time around with the little help and good effort from social software. We all are capable of wonderful things, we all know that. We just need to show it and demonstrate it. If we have been looking for a purpose for Living Social, I think this is our chance. We all know what’s the alternative, and how ugly it is, so it’s probably a good time to make a stand and start owning and take a bit more responsibility of our work. After all, it’s perhaps our only way to make this world a better place, not just for a few, but for everyone else altogether for that matter…

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