Getting Practical (and experimental endings)

When thinking flows, I find that I often don’t know what I’m going to say or write until I listen to what I am saying or read my own texts. Writing this blog often serves that purpose, helping me in bits and bites to get ideas about what I want to do.

As ideas have emerged, a bigger picture has started to form, so that I felt inspired together with a colleague of mine to create the frame for a new company. Recently, then, the Lemniscate Institute went online, as a virtual space for knowledge workers and cultural creatives to come together to work on solving the bigger innovation challenges of our age.

Among others, we felt inspired by John Hagel, David Snowden, and Richard Florida, and we pay tribute to them on our Campus with links to some of their videos.

We are taking a purposely experimental approach to seeing if we can do a company based on complexity approaches from the start. Initially, as we started constructing the frame, my sense was that we were designing an innovation strategy consultancy. I suspect, however, that something rather different might emerge. But that is the whole point of the experimental approach to the complexity of our world–create boundaries, drop in some catalytic probes, stimulate activity, and know (at least some of) your amplification and dampening strategies for patterns which can emerge.

Much as we first know what we have written when we read it back to ourselves, we also first find out what the power of an idea is when it is given a form and communicated to others, and we experience the resonance it creates. To help us find out what Lemniscate is, we invited some very bright and creative colleagues from strategy, architecture, innovation, therapy and meditation practices to a first ideas meeting, curious to see who would be inspired and want to participate. The frame triggered interest, but also scepticism to the point of a straight out “I don’t believe it” response. I came away feeling sobered at how challenging it is to weave together disparate views and experiences at the level of abstraction at which the frame operates.

More interesting was to experience the feedback after a couple of days, when scepticism turned to deeper interest, as colleages called back individually to talk about next steps.

We are looking forward to seeing what partners set up shop in the environment, and what steps each of us takes, both individually and in synchrony with each other, to live out the ideas involved in the “big shift.”

January 13th, 2013

To year-end I sold my part in the new company, taking over the sensemaking strategy concept and website to go independent again and continue working in the space of my network relationships, which through the experiment with the company format has grown and prospered.

Experiments are the lifeblood of entrepreneurship, and this one taught me about the importance of shared values and attitudes in doing business. It is the kind of learning you cannot get from training courses or coaching.

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