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Navigating the modern work landscape – impact and effort

As things have shifted so dramatically over the last few years and there is no sign of it abating nor of going back to normal, I wondered what that meant for modern work. Time for a DanelDoodle. This is a really high-level view and naturally I will have missed key elements. But I just wanted to map the landscape (the important factors being effort and impact) and then plot some elements I thought worthy. Some notes after the doodle.

What’s needed to get ahead at work in the next 10 years

Pick one or two at most, because you cannot excel at all.

  • Business Outcomes Achiever. My views on this are no secret, I’ve written countless posts with the tag. It is the most powerful of the activities in my view. If you can show how you are driving the company forward and to success, you will be successful. But it’s not easy.
  • Innovator. How are you thinking differently, doing things differently? This requires equal parts creativity and execution capability. Do it right and you will be rewarded handsomely because competition is so high and change so fast.
  • Productivity Pro. Because being able to withstand the pressures of distraction and so many things to do and focusing on the things that matter, matter. Not hard work but the right work.
  • Technophile. If you don’t master technology, it will master you. And get it to work for you, that’s why it is positioned as high impact and low effort. As every company becomes a software company and automation takes off, this becomes key.
  • Sense Maker. Navigating the onslaught of information, challenges and opportunities out there and making sense of it so you and your company ultimately make the right decisions.
  • Collaborator. As we work more from home and use tools to connect this becomes ever more important but it has always been. Because you go further together than alone.
  • Authentically Nice. Because you don’t have to be an arsehole to win. But it does have to be genuine.
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Everything can change except values

I’m reminded of this truth in the title which comes from an early interview with Tim Cook of Apple I discovered the other day that I had bookmarked. It is focused on the technology business and it’s an observation on how Steve Jobs worked and it really resonated with me. It can easily transcend the technology business.

Here’s a relevant piece from the article:

There’s this thing in technology, almost a disease, where the definition of success is making the most. How many clicks did you get, how many active users do you have, how many units did you sell? Everybody in technology seems to want big numbers. Steve never got carried away with that. He focused on making the best.

Tim Cook, Apple

I do wonder if we in the Customer Success business as I am, sometimes focus too much on the clicks, active users, units consumed over the amazing that we help our customers deliver? Are our values and focus right?

I and many of my professional colleagues in the space have moved much more to a model where business outcomes matter. This is more values based, value for the customer.

But I am often guilty of obsessing over the changes in those numbers Tim refers to. Often it is in pursuit of the targets we are chasing, driven by senior executives. So one must guard against this.

Now as our world is changing rapidly before our eyes, and in many ways terribly, I am reminded of this truth more broadly.

It looks like the world is rallying around the right values. People, companies, countries are standing up for what is right and what they believe in while all around them, age old wisdoms about the order of things change. They have been reminded of what is important and what values matter.

Time will tell if the values were the right ones and whether they have prevailed.

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Stages of consciousness and the immaturity of tyrants

It’s difficult to stand by and observe the terrible events happening in Ukraine and not say something. Or to write about inconsequential things while people are suffering. At the very least, offer solidarity. Or light a candle rather than curse the darkness. I wanted to try do all of that in this post.

What do I mean by stages of consciousness and what does that have to do with Ukraine and the events there? My first thoughts are that the tyrant in question, Putin, belongs to a lower level of consciousness than do other human beings.

He may be sick, there is reference to his increasing isolation through the Pandemic and mental instability. But I think it is more deep seated than that.

The best reference for this thinking that immediately sprang to mind is Ken Wilbur’s integral model. This is based on his consolidation of many other peoples thinking:

Generally, in the Integral Model, we work with around 8 to 10 stages or levels of consciousness development. We have found, after years of field work, that more stages than that are too cumbersome, and less than that, too vague. One stage conception we often use is that of Spiral Dynamics Integral, founded by Don Beck based on the research of Clare Graves. We also use stages of self development pioneered by Jane Loevinger and Susann Cook-Greuter; and orders of consciousness, researched by Robert Kegan. But there are many other useful stage conceptions available with the Integral Approach, and you can adopt any of them that are appropriate to your situation.

From the Integral Life site

The stages of consciousness

Click the arrow to expand and see full explanation:

1. Crimson (Archaic) The Crimson Altitude (formerly “infrared”) signifies a degree of development that is in many ways embedded in nature, body, and the gross realm in general. The Crimson altitude exhibits an archaic worldview, physiological needs (food, water, shelter, etc.), a self-sense that is minimally differentiated from its environment, and is in nearly all ways oriented toward physical survival. Although present in infants, Crimson is rarely seen in adults except in cases of famine, natural disasters, or other catastrophic events. Crimson is also used as a kind of catch-all term for earlier evolutionary stages and drives.
2. Magenta (Magic) The Magenta Altitude began about 50,000 years ago, and tends to be the home of egocentric drives, a magical worldview, and impulsiveness. It is expressed through magic/animism, kin-spirits, and such. Young children primarily operate with a magenta worldview. Magenta in any line of development is fundamental, or “square one” for any and all new tasks. Magenta emotions and cognition can be seen driving such cultural phenomena as superhero-themed comic books or movies.
3. Red (Egoic) The Red Altitude began about 10,000 years ago, and is the marker of egocentric drives based on power, where “might makes right,” where aggression rules, and where there is a limited capacity to take the role of an “other.” Red impulses are classically seen in grade school and early high school, where bullying, teasing, and the like are the norm. Red motivations can be seen culturally in Ultimate Fighting contests, which have no fixed rules (fixed rules come into being at the next Altitude, Amber), teenage rebellion and the movies that cater to it (The Fast and the Furious), gang dynamics (where the stronger rule the weaker), and the like.
4. Amber (Mythic) The Amber Altitude began about 5,000 years ago, and indicates a worldview that is traditionalist and mythic in nature—and mythic worldviews are almost always held as absolute (this stage of development is often called absolutistic). Instead of “might makes right,” amber ethics are more oriented to the group, but one that extends only to “my” group. Grade school and high school kids usually exhibit amber motivations to “fit in.” Amber ethics help to control the impulsiveness and narcissism of red.
5. Orange (Rational) The Orange Altitude began about 500 years ago, during the period known as the European Enlightenment. In an orange worldview, the individual begins to move away from the amber conformity that reifies the views of one’s religion, nation, or tribe. The orange worldview often begins to emerge in late high school, college, or adulthood. Culturally, the orange worldview realizes that “truth is not delivered; it is discovered,” spurring the great advances of science and formal rationality. Orange ethics begin to embrace all people, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….” Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, the US Bill of Rights, and many of the laws written to protect individual freedom all flow from an orange worldview.
6. Green (Pluralistic) The Green Altitude began roughly 150 years ago, though it came into its fullest expression during the 1960’s. Green worldviews are marked by pluralism, or the ability to see that there are multiple ways of seeing reality. If orange sees universal truths (“All men are created equal”), green sees multiple universal truths—different universals for different cultures. Green ethics continue, and radically broaden, the movement to embrace all people. A green statement might read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, regardless of race, gender, class….” Green ethics have given birth to the civil rights, feminist, and gay rights movements, as well as environmentalism. The green worldview’s multiple perspectives give it room for greater compassion, idealism, and involvement, in its healthy form. Such qualities are seen by organizations such as the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Doctors Without Borders. In its unhealthy form green worldviews can lead to extreme relativism, where all beliefs are seen as relative and equally true, which can in turn lead to the nihilism, narcissism, irony, and meaninglessness exhibited by many of today’s intellectuals, academics, and trend-setters… not to mention another “lost” generation of students.
7. Teal (Integral) The Teal Altitude marks the beginning of an integral worldview, where pluralism and relativism are transcended and included into a more systematic whole. The transition from green to teal is also known as the transition from “1st-tier” values to “2nd-tier” values, the most immediate difference being the fact that each “1st-tier” value thinks it is the only truly correct value, while “2nd-tier” values recognize the importance of all preceding stages of development. Thus, the teal worldview honors the insights of the green worldview, but places it into a larger context that allows for healthy hierarchies, and healthy value distinctions. Perhaps most important, a teal worldview begins to see the process of development itself, acknowledging that each one of the previous stages (magenta through green) has an important role to play in the human experience. Teal consciousness sees that each of the previous stages reveals an important truth, and pulls them all together and integrates them without trying to change them to “be more like me,” and without resorting to extreme cultural relativism (“all are equal”). Teal worldviews do more than just see all points of view (that’s a green worldview)—it can see and honor them, but also critically evaluate them.
8. Turquoise (Mature Integral) Turquoise is a mature integral view, one that sees not only healthy hierarchy but also the various quadrants of human knowledge, expression, and inquiry (at the minimum: I, we, and it). While teal worldviews tend to be secular, turquoise is the first to begin to integrate Spirit as a living force in the world (manifested through any or all of the 3 Faces of God: “I”—the “No self” or “witness” of Buddhism; “we/thou”—the “great other” of Christianity, Judaism, Hindusm, Islam, etc.; or “it”—the “Web of Life” seen in Taoism, Pantheism, etc.).

In conclusion

So while my sympathies are clearly with the people of Ukraine, I don’t believe most Russians want this and are with them too. At least the ones that see this for what it is – the machinations of a tyrant.

I think the only way to overcome this (other than what sane minded authorities are trying to do to stop the war), is to advance our thinking. From the immature stages (clearly where I place people like Putin who is probably at the red stage) to the higher ones.

To reach higher levels of consciousness where we understand that war does not work and might is not right. That you cannot enforce your will on other people. That we are all in this together. That love conquers all and I send buckets of it, as well as hope, to all the people rising up in defence of these terrible actions by a madman.

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As we come out of the pandemic – what to take and what to leave

I say we are coming out of the pandemic because all the signs point in that direction. At least where I live in the UK where all restrictions have been lifted and the talk is of learning to live with COVID-19. Whether it is based in fact and is a permanent state, that remains to be seen. I at least am ready to move on and will behave as if its over (I’m done and this is my call to arms). So this is what I’m leaving behind and taking forward.

Leaving behind

Meetings = Productivity.

This has always been a problem but in the pandemic it’s been exacerbated. That people think they need to add more meetings to overcome lack of proximity is fundamentally flawed thinking.

If anything, less meetings should be added or considered. I’m waging war on irrelevant, unplanned, disorganised meetings that serve no purpose or suck the life out of already challenging days.

Flattened experiences.

I mean by this how everything seems to have become homogenised, samey, devoid of any diversity. The days blur, the meetings are lifeless, the innovation stifled.

The problem is the effort people put in, or rather don’t. I’m guilty as hell – not getting properly dressed or sub par ablutions for the day.

More than just the physical preparations though, its about the mental preparations. Having good sleep, meditating, good exercise.

Doing this leads to better energy. Better energy leads to a better and more positive presence.

Taking forward

Writing and working asynchronously.

I’ve written about this before: Writing skills for remote asynchronous work and how you can master them.

I believe writing as part of asynchronous work are going to become key skills for work of the future and many are lacking in these basic capabilities.

I’ve been working this way (asynchronously) and writing for a long time but always believe I can get better. I’m going to be focusing on this a lot going forward.

OuterVentures.

By this I mean adventures in the grand outdoors. I’ve done so much more of this since the beginning of the lock downs and it’s made all the difference for coping.

I’m not just talking about sports like running or hiking which I always did a lot of and increased through the pandemic.

I mean being out and present in some amazing natural settings. I certainly have many on my door step or not far away with a bit of effort. Things like forest bathing or beach walking – give me more.

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The opportunity for inspiration is infinite

I started my DanelDoodles as a way to capture simple inspiring thoughts visually, for myself. I also use them for visual sensemaking. Some of my early inspirational ones can be found here. They are also a great creative outlet.

I started creating them using the Paper 53 App and their Pencil stylus on an iPhone (now just Paper after being acquired by WeTransfer and their stylus is discontinued). Then I migrated to iPad and Apple’s Pencil. Now I create on both iPhone and iPad – the former for quick idea capturing, the latter for finishing in higher quality. I’ve also moved on to Procreate now – trying to get to even higher quality.

You could say the market for inspiration is infinite. You need only look at the many inspirational cards, mugs or t-shirts out there, etc. Which is one of the reasons I started my little side gig – getting my DanelDoodles onto t-shirts. But this is not for massive commercial success – with all the competition that would be a challenge.

But I do want to try and be different. I’d like my designs to be original, quirky, thought provoking or at the very least, to provoke a smile.

I have created two categories for them – one for personal inspiration (Mind Doodles) and the other for inspiring people at work or in a work context (Work Doodles). This is pretty much in line with the main purpose of this entire site, captured by the strap line: Adventures inside Organisations and of the Mind.

Which leads me to the featured image at the top of this post. This is a kind of showcase image and not just aligned to the title. You can also see it on a t-shirt and buy it if you like too – I’ve embedded the product page at left

I use it to remind myself when things are tough or I am down, that there is beauty everywhere and life is short so I should open my eyes to see that.

As far as I am aware, this is entirely original meaning I did not copy this from anyone or anywhere. I can’t say that’s the case 100% for this or any of my work since nothing is ever original and anyway, great artists steal (said a pretty good artist called Pablo once).

But I’m not saying I’m a great artist. I’m just having some fun, inspiring myself and hoping that perhaps that may rub off on others that might need it.

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The tyranny of personality and the overcoming of it

I have just finished reading Don’t Take Your Life Personally by Ajahn Sumedho who is an American Buddhist monk. This is a review of sorts but mostly it’s an observation on the tyranny of personality that pervades modern society and how we can overcome it. The book and its views form the backdrop to this observation and cements long held and similar views I already had. I highlight passages from the book and meld my observations amongst them. What has become a scourge of epic proportion that blights our mental wellness does have remedies though, which I found in the pages of this book.

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