Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My accidental TED talk :: Cannes SMG/TED with Eric Berlow & Ronda Carnigie

Sometimes remarkable things do accidentally happen. I was certainly unprepared for the incredible hour of panel discussion I got with TED Fellow & complexity scientist Eric Berlow, and TED's own Ronda Carnigie last week in Cannes.


After all I thought I was going to do 10mins on some fuzzy ideas around new models of narrative that I'm interested in followed by a quick Q&A for a lunchtime event for Starcom MediaVest Group.
(If you're interested - my deck: http://goo.gl/x260V)
But Cannes has a way of swinging surprises so when Ronda and Eric  joined me on stage and we segued effortlessly into an intensive discussion about the existence of data in nature and how organic patterns can help us understand organisational culture and challenges around creativity, well, you know, you just have to lean back and join in.


I can honestly say I have never had more fun on a stage with two such bright and brilliant people. It was just lovely, like jamming in a band, which seems the most appropriate metaphor given Eric's reminiscences about Shona Brown's use of the same when talking about Google's own intentionally chaotic structure when it was growing. 
I am a huge believer in fail culture, in allowing small groups to fail faster, about an organic org, about interconnectedness, removal of fear, celebrating uncertainty, avoiding intervention cascades, idea agility, budget paralysis, and the pursuit of fun  at work (and hiring to that goal), not to mention slime mold.  


In fact it's a damn good thing I'm not in charge. But it was amazing to hear a lot of those ideas reflected back in Eric's own insights both as a teacher and academic, and from within nature itself - it was just so much fun - which is the point after all. Quite how we got to the Swedish twitter scandal I'm not quite sure, but there's nothing like rounding out with some awkward pauses about Nazi's.

And in reply to Stephanie - 
(who wrote this rather flattering review of our chat: What are you passionate about?) -

Yes. Failure is the only option... mainly because in itself success is simply a failure to set sufficiently ambitious goals. And we only do that because uncertainty makes us so profoundly anxious. 
It's a massive indulgence but one I am very lucky to be able to enjoy.