Category Archives: collaboration

Founder at Heart @MBAe

Founder at Heart is a result of a few years teaching Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney’s MBAentrepreneurship. We realised that, coming from an anthropological perspective, some of the inner work we did with students resonated deeply. So, I was invited to design a course around purpose and collaboration.

The summer term of 2018 was the first term this course was taught. I introduced many reflective exercises and some games, and had four wonderful guests speaking on purpose and integrity, holacracy and non-violent communication as well as resilience and conscious entrepreneurship. My favourite bit is that as one of the assignments istudents design a game – or experiential format – on the issue of complexity and resilience.


Outline
This subject aims to help founders appreciate their entrepreneurial purpose, understand ecosystemic resilience and learn about alternative and lesser known business models. Founding a venture requires imagination, courage and strength of character. Every founder is different and Silicon Valley best practices may not serve all. Founders need to identify their values and relationships, so that they build a business that suits their character, team and market. With the aim of understanding and developing their own motivation, inner workings and capabilities, students learn to embed their entrepreneurial ethics into 21st Century complexities. Students also learn to take a systems perspective and gain knowledge of new ways of working inherent in Open Value Networks and Cooperatives as well as Holacracy and Teal Organisations. The subject builds on the works of Otto Scharmer (Theory U), Kate Rawford (Doughnut Economy), Daniel Kahnemann (Thinking Fast and Slow), Joanna Macy (The Work that Reconnects), Fritjof Capra (The Systems View of Life), Charles Eisenstein (The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible) and Frederic Laloux (Reinventing Organisations). These authors span and connect inner motivation and capabilities with systemic and economic practices and mindsets.

How it’s different
One of the most important aspects of FAH is that it’s taught by an anthropologist, a media/design anthropologist, who’s dedicated to bring humanities back into business (polemic, I know… but you know it works…).  That’s why we’re looking at human behaviour first (and at organisational structure secondarily). This shift of thinking might seem trivial, but it has all kinds of ramifications for teaching business.

Why is it so important to address human behaviour and culture? Many companies have understood that applying design thinking without cultural change doesn’t aid innovation and competitiveness. Also, from an anthropocentric perspective, humans have great impact on the planet and not everything we plan is working in our favour in the long run. We can see the ramifications of extractive economy in many ways. And because humans are awesome, we’re already building new economic models to help building markets that help the earth regenerate. This course teaches an overview of what it requires to build a good business in a holistic sense.

scientists can't do that yet.JPGAnother aspect that is different from other courses – and academic tradition in general – is that this course offers a whole array of content that we skim (instead of going deep into some specialised content). Thi is similar to what we see emerging in faculties for transdisciplinary innovation (check out UTS’ FTDI). Dipping into different ideas and relating them with each other is a deeply creative practice, because in doing so we are creating knew knowledges at the intersection of our readings.

This approach aligns with the content we’re covering: it trains us to work within complexity and uncertainty; it requires a dash of intuition, collaborative faculty, and courage to make decisions because they feel right (yes this also means your decisions about which literature to choose and how to create your assignments).

I deeply care about this so called aesthetic pedagogy as I believe it caters to our creative minds in a way that is neglected. This is one course within your whole year that gives you the opportunity to engage as freely as a University course can offer while still being able to grade your achievements. All assignments are designed to explore the edges of your comfort zone without the risk of failing greatly.

Also, while Universities and traditional schooling give clear guidelines and criteria to meet, this course addresses creativity, imagination, and personal experience. These cannot be assessed like content you are asked to learn and repeat or use in a certain way. For example, this course offers you several resources, at your choice, and several modes of engagement that are experimental and require your creativity.

Modules
Module 1 – Complex Systems

  • Complexity
  • Resilience

Module 2 – Purpose and Integrity

  • Purpose and Integrity
  • Relationship

Module 3 – Views of “Economy”

  • Conscious entrepreneurship
  • Alternative Business Models

Module 4 – P2P Workflows

  • Technology Stack
  • Tools

Module 5 – Soft Skills, really?

  • Working with Uncertainty
  • Working with Intuition
  • Conversational Intelligence

2016-04-17 12.35.42.jpg

We Are In.Tuition – Remixing the Goods

  A project I’ve been working on is called We Are In.Tuition.

We Are In.Tuition is a creative residency, dojo, retreat, open value network and fieldbook. It’s the result of 15 months of dojos / gatherings jamming on a loosely defined field of shared practice: intuition and mutual care in leadership, innovation and the future of work.

In February this year, we spent a weekend at Cowra’s The Corridor Project, a rural Australian Woolshed to explore the question- what does it mean to be intuitive, trusting in flow, emergence and embodied wisdom when living in patriarchal structures?

We have since, created an Open Value Network (OVN) to practice and support new and ancient ways of being and livelihood. We are a group of fringe dwelling academics and creative practitioners.

When I designed the playshop series I pulled out a big sheet of paper and wrote down all the methods, exercises, ideas and practices that had inspired me recently. As a result, our workshop became a bootlegged remix of all kinds of ways of working, and I thought it’s useful to list them here:

  • Coyote Pedagogy – Jon Young’s 8 Shields
  • Emergence Pedagogy
  • The Art of Hosting
  • Possibility Management
  • Non-Violent Communication – Marshall Rosenberg
  • Dragon Dreaming
  • Value Polarities – Daniel Barcay
  • Social Presencing Theatre – Otto Scharmer
  • Theory U – Otto Scharmer
  • Open Space Technology
  • Co-Design
  • Co-Ethnography
  • Collective Impact
  • Open Value Network
  • Dojo Principles
  • Deep Ecology – Joanna Macy, Arne Naess
  • Positionality – Rebecca Freeth
  • Serendipity Management – Inkinen Jaako
  • Taboos and Authority – Arnold Mindel
  • Hidden Commitments / Immunity to Change – Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey
  • Epic Storytelling and Hero’s Journey
  • Aboriginal Lore
  • Political Literacy
  • Zen
  • Conversational Intelligence
  • Satsang
  • Coaching
  • Magic and Shamanism

While I was wondering whether this wild mix would make for a confusing retreat, it turned out to be just fabulous. Everyone said that we learned and did “sooo much, but it didn’t feel that way”.

A year into the project, we’re now raising money to help design and print a fieldbook we made as a result of our explorations in Cowra earlier this year. We’re inviting you to pre-purchase a fieldbook through our crowdfunding campaign. We have also pulled together range of “rewards” to suit a variety of tastes and budgets as a way to say thank you for your kind donation.

This think-and-do’ fieldbook will be produced under Creative Commons licence, to be shared and remixed by anyone!

Please support us here on StartSomeGood

What’s The Future of Education, Really?

UTS Business School has released a short clip on the work we’ve been doing with our students. It’s been a tough semester, including a lot of strong emotions among my students as well as me. The comments they made on this clip validate so beautifully that learning is a liminal threshold, and being outside your comfort zone is … well uncomfortable.

A moment of deep appreciation for the opportunities we get to do the work that connects and expands.

Artist Residency – Working with Resistance

As part of my Artist Residency at the University of Technology Sydney, I was invited to run a series of experimental gatherings, in which we offer a space to reflect and practice working with uncertainty. Our experiments are around behaviours, ethics, and tools that are helpful in times of change. My facilitation is informed by remixing methods and knowledge from the arts, technology, permaculture, business, the humanities, and coyote pedagogy (quite fascinating techniques from wilderness education). The idea is to learn and train together, like in a Dojo. I’ll prepare the space and framing; and at the same time I will be a trainee like everyone else.

The aim of this series is:
a)     to sharpen our senses and working with flow; being intrapreneurial in a top-down hierarchy; it’s about setting the scene and how we relate; it’s about resistance in and around us; about the quality we bring to our lives in order to create magic. And yes, there’ll be sharing on ingredients for proverbial magic potions (no bones or blood involved, promised); and
b)     to research and develop emergent pedagogies through artistic enquiry.

We ran two workshops in Sydney and one retreat out of Sydney. And the result eclipsed what I had originally envisioned by far. We’re currently layouting a co-ethnographic journal and running a crowdfunding campaign to bring it to life.

Hacking Monopoly

Ishan Markandeya came over to Sydney and we co-designed a special Futurescouts session for the course I teach for a group of MBAe Business Students at UTS. We flipped Monopoly and asked our students to hack the game further, to prototype resilient business for a time of transition, to experience the commons, to create economic fictions.

Group size: 3 – 6 pax
Playtime: 1-4h

What:
We hacked Monopoly to offer a collaborative game that educates about commons-based business modelling.

How:
The game is played like monopoly, but we changed the properties to ones that are systemically related to the intersection of economics and politics. The community chest contains cards on resiliency and chance cards pose challenges to growth and profit maximisation. There are five currencies, for example, reputation, time, and natural resources. The game is designed to be hacked further by its players, so that new rules  emerge by way of storytelling. The game win is when all properties belong to the commons and the players begin regenerating spaceship earth.

The goal of Polypoly is not to bankrupt your fellow players, but rather to engage in a non-zero sum game to create “steady-state” economic systems. To win Polypoly is to create the highest quality of life for all life through abundance.

That’s not to say you’ll reach it, though – it all depends on players choices.

The conversations and stories that emerge are how we create a healthy dialog about values, economic ideals, and a place for participants to engage in vibrant discussion about 21st century economics, governance and value.

Compete and cooperate to buy properties of an economy. Commoner, Capitalist, Communist, Socialist? There’s ways to play them all. You might be surprised at your own decisions.

Balance multiple currencies for various social and economic advantages. Cash, Time, Reputation, Influence, and Natural Resources all have buying power! How will you manage your resources?

For more information on the game visit polypody.us.
This prototype is an ongoing collaboration with FutureScouts.

Ethnographic Research on Regenerative Futures

When I spent time in Europe I live with an intentional community on 10ha of land in Northern Germany. The place used to be a Botanical Garden meets Bionics experiment. Sounds wild? Yes, the Prof whose mind-child it was, was a true visionary, Buckmintser Fuller style. One of his books is “The Ecology of Beauty“.

Anyways.

The area lay fallow for 4 years. Imagine an exotic botanical garden grow wild! It’s an amazing place to be, and the group of 18, who (got a private loan to buy and) work with the land have dedicated their efforts to experiments with natural building, community building, permaculture and regenerative technology, human dynamics, healing and nature … ah many a thing.

This vid was created when Wir Bauen Zukunft started with a summer camp to clear away many of the signposts, fences, and derelict gigantic models that showed the functions and mechanics of different animals and plants.

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Level Up – Resilience and Empathy Card Game

In Bavaria, in not so ancient times, 30 researchers from different faculties at 18 universities got together to develop their field of study through a lens of “resilience”. They worked for a year and came together in groups of 2 or 3 to then design games based on their research. That means, when playing this game, players will learn about resilience and will have to tap their empathy, not to win or gain points but to increase the spirit and joy around the table. 

2016-09-23-09-58-19Group size: 5 – 8 pax
Playtime: 10 mins – 1h

What:
We designed this storytelling card game to aid groups in companies or cooperatives to tap their empathy with each other and solve resiliency problems of their collective behaviours or projects.

How:
The game starts with a shared problem or design question. Then, prompted by either danger or solution cards (based on resilience factors found by the academics), each player takes a turn to tell a part of an emergent story relating to the key word they drew. The prompt will be put on the table, so that all cards lie open in the end. Bit by bit, players draw cards and decide whether they can be matched (“solve a danger”). In rounds, players takes a new card per turn and continues the story, using the keyword they drew and their imagination. The story is built successively around the table, always relating to the project or problem at hand. This way, the group has a conversation that might solve some of the open questions of their problem in a playful way.
To juice up the game, there is a buzzer that can be hit when someone guesses what character trait (empathy) another player projects.
The round ends when all cards are matched on the table. The next round is based on a new problem or design question that relates to the larger topic. The game ends when players decide they have played long enough. 🙂

Here is a play manual pdf: Manual_Level Up_Resilience Empathy Card Game_Full Set

Queer Economics And Love-Driven Politics

I’m feeling torn about this article. Although I posted it on Medium I never shared it really. I rewrote “fem” and “masc” to read “yin” and “yang”, but that doesn’t cut it either. There’s something in it, and it needs other people, conversation, to shape what can become, so I release it:

This is the story of a change of mind that came so sudden that I didn’t even had time to get nervous. It was the day I shared the stage with Yochai Benkler, which means I had a mad good audience. The OUIshareFest committee had asked me to talk about Poietic Co-Entrepreneurship, something I had R&D’ed for years. But just before the talk, I spontaneously decided to share something else instead, and said:

“This talk is about Androgyny, or the in-between, and how that relates to the way we work, talk and play.”

I handed out small tags and asked everyone in the audience to write down how they saw themselves on a scale between masculine and feminine. Say, I feel 70% feminine and 30% masculine. Then I asked them to flip that and listen to the talk from that perspective. Dear reader, you might want to do the same.

After we had gender-labelled ourselves sufficiently, I went on. Let’s assume we live in a patriarchal economy. That means that structures, symbolism, language as well as storytelling and sense-making mechanisms are largely masculine. There’s an emphasis on competition, argumentative communication, and a desire for definition, linearity, and focus.

At this point, I could hear shuffling feet in the audience and noticed intensive stares, but no one left.

STRUCTURE
To reveal patriarchal structures, I spoke about pyramids versus galaxies as symbols for the old and new economy. The pyramid is the old economy, a hierarchical system with a desire for security/control, winning, and stability. You set an aim, shoot the arrow and go for the kill. The galaxy is the new economy, and is made of many moving parts, which continuously change their relationship towards one another. Here, control is surrendered to organic movement. Stability is found in resilience: the ability to respond well to whatever curveball your environment serves you.

Emerging ways of working emphasise such traits. They are relational and integrative, not exclusive or competitive. Take commons-oriented peer production or design thinking, where pivoting and iterating are characterised by non-linear flows that embrace and integrate multiple potentialities.

LANGUAGE
By this stage, I felt heightened energy in the room and saw supportive nods. I went on pointing out that — while we’re religiously preaching design thinking — the method itself will not change current winner-takes-all practice unless we change the language that goes with it.

We’re still using war terminology: we talk about strategy and tactics and war rooms and combatting problems. Just to get a foot in the door, we marry design thinking with business speak. Speaking of imagination, joy, and playfulness is still frowned upon. Despite modern rhetoric, failing still has a stigma. Empathetic soft-spokenness is devalued as weak and indecisive. Saying “maybe” is seen as an invitation to be taken advantage of. What a shame! What I hear when I hear “maybe” is an invitation to build on someone’s thought. It’s not about arguing someone’s point. It’s about possibility. It’s about levelling up. Not beating down. And that’s way stronger than arguing a point. It is stronger, because you acknowledge that there is more than your viewpoint; it’s stronger, because you acknowledge that an opposing idea is still as true as yours; it’s stronger, because you can hold paradoxical ideas at once and still make sense; it’s stronger, because it’s non-linear multi-level sense-making. In the age of complexity, we may want to come to see that as an evolutionary advantage.

STORYTELLING
At this point, I had eased into my stream of consciousness. So, this is me with a limb out. I proposed that our storytelling is largely masculine, not just in terms of predominant characters in popular TV and cinema, but in terms of underlying structure. In the world of books and films, the typical linear story follows a three-act masculine orgasm: (1) foreplay, (2) climax, (3) sleep (forgive me, but it’s funny). With new technologies, though, we see non-linear narratives emerging. Stories take place on various platforms, such as film, app, graphic novels, instagram, games etc. Such roving stories have multiple orgasms: several releases in various places at once. I’m sure masculine types enjoy these, too.

WHAT ELSE
This chart wasn’t part of my talk, but I got obsessed:

screenshot-2017-01-07-21-04-40

If the Western world is a stronghold of the masculine, how can we bring in the feminine without compromising the masculine altogether? It’s obvious that we have a liking for domination and “power over”. It’s also obvious that — to save our planet  — we need to shift our focus to nurturing and caring qualities; the ones that act from a deep-seated “power within”, a mature strength that leads by service, a confident wanderer that finds that the goal can be in the way.

In our upbringing, we have learned that masculine traits bring success, but we shouldn’t train ourselves to play the domination game. Instead, we should infuse our economy with love and care. Still, we need to realise that these traits bring success, too. And that means valuing and remunerating affective and emotional labour. That means recognizing that the feminine holds a wisdom that will only thrive if we allow the masculine to subside a bit. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need our masculinity. The opposite, we need both. We need the queerness of being both, of being in-between. We could re-marry the masculine and feminine; renew the vows and help both create the poetry of life by working hand in hand, by engaging in love-driven politics with each other, and with nature, by being alchemists.

So I wonder:

  • How can we create malleable structures that enable and equally value both feminine and masculine expressions of individual and collective creativity?
  • How can we bring about a value system for a new economy that embraces the in-between – including its uncertainty, fuzziness, and tenderness – and fosters queerer and more caring modes of interaction?

In Paris, I ended my talk reading out this poem of mine.

lorelemu_solune

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Permaculture for Business

In early 2015, I sent an email to the Michael Crouch Innovation Center at UNSW (back then just opening) and suggested an artist residency to do ethnographic research in a Permaculture community. My goal was to try and apply permaculture principles to the way we work and live in cities; to find new ideas how to transform or build businesses. I never heard back, so I kept working on existing projects.

2016-05-26 09.10.01Later in the year, I worked on an Earthship, together with a wonderful community of permaculturists and natural builders. I thought how useful would it be to bring entrepreneurship and business students out to the country, to work together in this way, hands on, thereby learning what entrepreneurship really is, before learning business modelling and financial planning.

When I returned to Sydney, I spoke to the head of the newly established Judith Neilson chair at UNSW (based in Architecture and Build Environment). The reaction was “intrigued” but we didn’t get anywhere.

One step closer. At least someone heard me.

I also spoke to people at the Hatchery and the business school at UTS. Interest but no budget and risky. If you know someone, who’d be excited to invest in such an experimental learning program, please get in touch.