The universal tribe of corporate rebels knows a few things about bicycles
Even though many of you are extremely liberal with your praise and kind words (thank you folks, it means the world), I have no illusions that a big part of what goes on here is community self-care and group therapy. We all see the same things and often it helps to get together, confirm we are indeed all seeing what we are seeing (sparing each other the specifics corporate sensitivities protect), reassure each other that we are not alone, remind each other and ourselves that a lot of what is common is not normal. And reaffirm how important it is to go on. That above all else.
The conversation that ensues is almost exclusively constructive, positive and encouraging to me and also the wider community. I’ve only had the one death threat incident (which by twitter standards, I am led to believe, is as dramatic as gum in your hair).
Unlike most people’s dark experiences on the internet, this column has been an amazing way of finding a geographically dispersed community of like-minded people many of whom would not have met me or each other in the normal course of living our individual, separate and eerily parallel lives.
Take a moment to digest how awesome that is.
So, the way I see it, anything that brings us together belongs to all of us and although so far I do my writing solo, I take requests. It’s our conversation, right? It’s all about the conversation. Taking requests is kind of the point. Failing that, I would be talking to myself. Or worse still, talking at you.
And we all have enough of that going on at work without needing to replicate it in our community interactions.
Besides, this is what we do for a living.
We know one-way dialogue doesn’t work. We know feedback loops matter. We know listening is important. We know reflecting is important. And we know iteration is only useful if we put what we learnt back out there to have its tires kicked. Is this what you meant? And also, how about this new thing I thought of, while we were talking?
It’s how we develop software. How we run projects (or at least how we try to run projects) and how we wish the world was run, really.
And in all our conversations, we seem to come back to some core themes. Some fundamental principles that motivate us. Some recurrent patterns that infuriate us and yet, on a human level, we kinda see where they are coming from and so the anger is curbed by a grudging but deep-seated empathy. We are frustrated every step of the way and yet understand why people constantly trip us up. And that understanding is what it’s all about.
As Sudhir Kesavan put it, our job is to persuade organisations to let go of their old bicycle. They don’t wanna. They most definitely don’t want to pay for a new bicycle. They don’t want to learn how to drive, in case you were thinking of upgrading their mode of transport, and they don’t want to dismount. You do what you need to do while they go on riding, thank you very much.
This is not a spectator sport
Needless to say, it doesn’t work that way.
If I try to turn your bicycle into a rocket while you are riding it you will fall. Or we will end up with the banking version of Optimus Prime and try explaining that to the shareholders.
You need to engage. Again, and again, and again.
You need to tell me where you are going, what you love about your old bicycle, and what is hard about travelling.
You may not know any other way to travel and therefore I need to ask the right questions and that may take some time. You many not know any other way to be and I need to understand that, before I do whatever comes next. I can help but I cannot do without you.
You don’t even necessarily need to dismount. You just need to engage.
Like my readers do, showing their tribal colours every week.
Making comments that open a world of possibility. Summarising the work in a way that sheds light, to me, and gets me thinking. Sharing links with contacts; sharing context for the content. Bridge-builders, every single one of them, joining the dialogue and inviting others in. Turning everything into a show and tell, a learning opportunity: first and foremost for themselves.
Letting go of that old bicycle
It is a wonderful gift, finding like-minded people, who manage to teach you and nudge you and inspire you with gentility and grace (the thing about the usual twitter fare of death threats and name-calling is you don’t really learn from it all). It is a wonderful gift to know you are not alone in seeing the world in a particular way, even though you are outnumbered.
There is a strange comfort to knowing that, across continents, there is a commonality to our struggles and problems. They are not insurmountable because of their universality. Digital transformation efforts, change efforts of any shape and size, become very specific struggles. Everything in them becomes unique and personal. And although all that is true, fundamentally, across the globe, there is a group of people who spend their days trying to persuade big organisations to let go of their old bicycles in favour of a new ride, a new mode of transportation, a new way of being.
And across the globe there is a group of people who lift their head away from the reports and look away from their screens as often as they can, seeking anchors and pressure points, thought bombs and open windows, to ensure that whatever their journey may bring, they remember not to ever become attached to their own old bicycles.
So that they, we, can continue to do the job.
We look and we find each other, by any means available, and silently task the tribe with doing for us what we do for our organisations. Keep us thinking. Keep us tinkering. Keep us unattached to old bicycles and attracted to fresh conversations. Keep us away from the sidelines. Across the globe our experiences vary but some universal truths hold: change is not a spectator sport.
By Leda Glyptis
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption.
Leda is a lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem, inhabiting both start-ups and banks over the years. She is a roaming banker and all-weather geek.
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!