Category Archives: Change

How to create positive and effective change at work and in life.

The story so far

Roosevelt Finlayson (of the Festival in the Workplace) called me from the Bahamas yesterday to catch up. During our talk we discussed my future plans (among many other things) and he challenged me to document the process I’m currently going through. That’s a great idea and what better place to do it than right here on the blog.

And what better way to start than by telling the story so far. So here it is, the story of the geek who:

  • Co-Founded a very different kind of IT-company
  • Went from trying to grok tech to trying to grok people
  • Left IT and found his calling
  • Founded possibly the world’s strangest company/organisation/movement
  • Gave 3 years of his life to make people happy at work
  • Worked for free for 3 years, and calls at i huge success :o)
  • Is now leaving this project and has no idea what’s next

Continue reading The story so far

Goal-free living

At the WorldBlu forum I had the pleasure of talking to Stephen Shapiro who just finished writing a book on goal-free living which is coming out in january 2006.

As soon as Stephen mentioned “goal-free living” a flash-bulb went of in my mind, and I knew what he meant. I also knew that this is what I’ve been doing for the last 3 years, I just haven’t had a name for it. Here’s how Stephen introduces goal-free living:

We are taught from a young age that in order to achieve great success we must set and achieve our goals. However in doing so, we become focused on where we are going rather than enjoying where we are right now. We sacrifice today in the hope that a better future will emerge, only to discover that achievement rarely leads to true joy. Goal-Free Living presents an alternative philosophy – that we can have an extraordinary life now, all without goals and detailed plans. By living for each moment, it?s possible to have a successful life and follow your passions at the same time.

YES! 3 years ago I left the IT business with no new plans in mind. I gave my self some time off, and never once though consciously about what I should do next. After about 3 months an inspiration came to me, and The Happy at Work Project grew out of that. Also, for the 3 years we’ve been running the project, we’ve been goal-free. Rather than setting strategies, plans, targets, measures and budgets, we’ve done our best to cultivate every opportunity that came along and to create some ourselves. So while Stephen’s book focuses on the personal sphere, I’m here to tell you that it works just as well in a business setting!

His book gives you 8 major tips on how to live goal-free:

– Use a compass, not a map
– Trust that you are never lost
– Remember that opportunity knocks often, but sometimes softly
– Want what you have
– Seek out adventure
– Become a people magnet
– Embrace your limits
– Remain detached

That is quite simply brilliant thinking. Read more about goal-free living here.

One of the high points of the forum was when Stephen took the stage and gave a goal-free presentation about goal-free living. He’d originally intended to talk about a different theme, and had nothing prepared on goal-free living, but a few other conference attendees dared him to do it. Needless to say he nailed it, and the goal-less nature of his presentation underscored and validated the message.


Already-thereness is the idea, that whatever you’re trying to achieve, you are in some measure already there. The advantage of this approach is that it allows you to build on strengths and successes, rather than on failings and shortcomings. Appreciative Inquiry works very much in this spirit. Here’s a cool quote on already-thereness, ripped from Michael Herman’s weblog:

The Spirit Of Already-Thereness: The familiar idea of searching-to-grow, exciting though it may be, is a gap maker. The long-cherished notion of becoming can soothe, but it can also serve to distance us from ourselves rather than bring us nearer. The spirit of already-thereness, on the other hand, is a gap closer. Being has more power in it than becoming. Imagine just proclaiming already-thereness. No questions asked. No permission sought. Simply take residence. It’s audacious, but declaring it is what creates it. That’s the leap!
– Jack Hawley in his book Reawakening The Spirit In Work

Beating the banks

Zopa is a new approach to lending and borrowing money:

Here’s the way the world works (and it must be right because it’s been like this for hundreds of years…)

People who have spare money give it to a bank. Banks then do whatever they like with it. Some of it they lend to people who need to borrow. Some of it they give to their shareholders. Some of it they gamble on the price of tin, or the dollar going down, or whether there’ll be floods in Asia. Banks make lots of money from all this, a fraction of which they give back to their customers.

Zopa though lets people who have spare money to lend it directly to people, like them, who want to borrow it. No bank in the middle, no huge overheads, no unethical investments.

To minimise any risk, the money each lender puts in is spread amongst at least 50 borrowers (and likewise each borrower gets their money from a number of different lenders).

I saw this mentioned on Businesspundit, and I have to agree with him that this is a seriously disruptive technology. The site just exudes happiness, energy, drive, disruption and fun. Check it out.

UPDATE: I tried to register at the site, and the process failed. I got this very nice email from the site:

Thanks for your email and your interest in Zopa. I’m sorry but in order to comply with UK Money Laundering Regulations all Zopa Members need to be UK residents and appear on the voters roll.

We know this sounds incredibly inflexible, but at this stage in Zopa’s young life we have to be belt and braces with identification, money laundering and fraud.

Clearly this is a big turn off for you so please accept our apologies. Once we’re better established we’ll be looking to increase the number of ways that we can admit Zopa joiners online.

As Zopa grows we are planning to move into other countries by the end of the year and we hope very much that you’ll consider trying to join us again then.

I’ll be back when they take it outside the UK.


Sometimes “you really should do X” but you don’t. Here’s some excellent advice from AmbivaBlog for all of us procrastinators:

According to “archetypal psychologist” James Hillman, who at some point dissolved my own suicidal feelings of frustration and failure into laughter, procrastination is a “disease” only from the point of view of the heroic ego, which believes it can and should control everything — first discipline the self, then save the world. (“Enormous inner strength and will!” “The fight of your life, for the rest of your life!”) Procrastination is one of the signs of the soul at work, undermining and sabotaging the grandiose aspirations of the hero-ego, perhaps so that something real can happen, or not happen, as it, not I, wish. In Hillman’s work procrastination means uncountably many things to the soul. It’s an intrinsic part of the work process, resisting the pen the way the knots in wood resist and redirect the chisel; it’s like the dance of avoidance all animals do on the way to their most primal gratifications, building up the intensity of mating or fighting by postponing it. It’s much like the way we turn red-faced and flee from the very person we’ve fantasized confessing our love to, or the way we eagerly look forward to going “home” and then sink into a ghastly regressive lethargy, binge-eating on our parents’ couch, because what the soul wants is something less literal than we think we want. And one of the things it wants, and loves, is its problems, which Hillman says are like heraldic emblems.

Read the entire excellent post here.

I often berate myself for not just getting the stuff done I need to do… but I also find that I can force myself to do it, and it turns out to be difficult, or I can wait until he right moment (whatever that is) and suddenly it’s so easy, it feels as if the work does itself. On the other hand, sometimes I DO force myself to do it and it also turns out to be easy :o)

Attacking the staus quo

Clay Shirky talks about folksonomies (community generated taxonomies) and then comes up with this BRILLIANT quote, which can be applied to just about any area:

We need a word for the class of comparisons that assumes that the status quo is cost-free, so that all new work, when it can be shown to have disadvantages to the status quo, is also assumed to be inferior to the status quo.

Yes, yes, YES! The status quo ain’t free!

What if..?

Here’s an idea for future elections – in America or anywhere else:

What if you as a candidate went out and fully acknowledged the voters’ right to vote for the other guy? If you could campaign in a way that was fully appreciative of the results achieved by your opponent(s)? What if you refrained completely from spin and stuck to the facts? What if your intention was not to make people vote for you, but rather to supply people with the information needed to make their decision?

One day, when I’m prime minister of Denmark, this is how I’ll have run my campaign :o)

There ain’t no such thing as change management

I’m currently reading “The spirit of leadership” by Harrison Owen and it has something to say on the difference between management and leadership:
[Managers] control the system, whatever that system might be. And the operative word is control. A good manager makes the plan, manages to the plan, and meets the plan. The details are taken care of, the abberancies are controlled, and the problems are solved. … But when the balance swings to nostability and change occurs in radical, discontinuous jumps, the skills of management don’t work quite as well as they used to.

Which would make “change management” an oxymoron – there ain’t no such thing. A better term would be “change leadership”.

Manifesto for growth

I’m currently putting together a two-hour session on change. One of the hot topics in management today is change management, and I would argue that you can’t manage change if you don’t understand change. So I’m looking at change from a lot of different angles right now: Science, philosophy, common sense, psychology, biology etc…

And then somebody pointed me towards Bruce Mau’s An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, and while I may not agree with all of it, it certainly stimulated my thinking on growth. And of course growth and change are, if not identical, then at least related. Here’s my favourite bit from the manifesto:
2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you?ll never have real growth.