Eco

Sometimes I ponder about a simple idea of one versus many. Here’s my poem.

Once upon a time, the world existed — get an education for a lifetime, that one job, that one group to be part of. Guess what? The world has changed. Change is hard, I know. But, wait.

Just recall your grandpa, if you had one? Grandpas keep the gardens. A flower here. A carrot over there. An onion under an apple tree.

You see? Take your bucket and plant the seed. Plant your thoughts and actions, skills you learn and projects we create.

What garden will you start today?

Scaling Good

TL;DR: How to improve the state of humanity in three steps.


If I follow my entrepreneurial spirit, I capture myself pondering about a slow pace of change. Technology is booming worldwide, you may say. Although if you dig deep, it’s clear that the biggest challenges humanity faces are not solved yet: just look up UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

While innovation is rapidly happening in the corporate sector, with large for-profit organisations creating innovation labs, acquiring new technology companies and sponsoring startup accelerators, it seems that the progress is still slow in the not-for-profit and non-governmental sectors which often are born to improve the state of humanity.

What can be done to solve global problems quicker?

The infrastructure from the top down is needed. Until the change comes I suggest to start here and now. Start with the people. Start with yourself. Just like a lean startup method or design thinking provided the tools for for-profit companies, large and small, to innovate and create solutions, rapidly, the same effect can be replicated in the not-for-profit sector.

Workshops, hackathons, intrapreneurship programmes, professionals starting ‘projects for good’ can all be part of the toolkit. I suggest one more step to take.

Start with your mindset

Being involved in the startup and innovation ecosystem since 2012, I can definitely say I have experienced ‘change’. The biggest change was inside my mind, though. How else would it be possible to move between disciplines and industries in a few years time; make insights and summarise what you learned when there’s no time? Change truly starts from within.

Step 1: Share problems

Many problems can be solved through a conversation. Although we’re not used to sharing the struggle. No matter if you’re a small team or a large organisation, someone or no one, chances are, you keep problems to yourself.

Perhaps it’s a branding problem? If we view ‘problem’ as an opportunity, perhaps we’d open up more, share more, discover and innovate more? Let’s give it a try, shall we?

Step 2: Think about solutions

When you spot the problem, think what can be done to solve it. Write your ideas down. Even the silly ones.

Step 3: Ask for feedback

Just like when learning a skill, feedback is crucial if we want to improve and move onto the next level. Same is with life’s situations. When we get feedback on things we spend time thinking about, that’s when we improve and grow.

Often, we don’t ask for feedback. Frankly, we often don’t know how to ask for (any) things anymore. If you view sharing your idea as feedback request, would that help? Asking for feedback is also a good way to meaningfully connect with people.

To sum up, if we take problems we face and look for solutions, that’s a starter. Lastly, when we ask for feedback, the rest is an opportunity to be revealed.

If you take these micro steps, who knows, together we may solve humanity’s challenges quicker. But about that, I’ll write in the next post.

GPS

Do you recall that moment when you think you know what you’re doing and suddenly you get scared? If you’re involved in a creative process of taking ideas out of your head and putting it out there so that the world can see it and provide you with feedback, you probably do. Welcome to the insecure zone of letting the old beliefs go.

Uncertainty is often overwhelming, sometimes scary. The natural way to deal with this new sensation would be to run and hide. But don’t run away just yet. One book says that “being a CEO of an organisation is going against nature” because you have to constantly do what you’re not comfortable with: look for and deal with the danger instead of staying in the safety zone for survival.

It’s natural to feel the fear when feeling insecure. Does knowing help? Quotes as this give us comfort. That’s all. We know we’re not alone. But we still have to deal with our new reality.

How to deal with uncertainty

To me, writing helps. I ask three questions and instantly get more certainty:

1) Where am I right now?
2) Where am I going?
3) Then, make a turn.

The hardest is to be clear about ‘where am I going?’. But the direction is essential. When dealing with chaos, how do you know you’ve reached the destination if you keep on spinning, turning one way or the other? Are you going in circles? The direction will tell.

Ask yourself:

Why do we exist? 
How does the world look like when the mission is achieved?

In other words, no matter if you’re an established organisation, a startup company or an individual, figure out your mission and vision.

Your first response may be ‘no idea’. Although, your ‘inner GPS’ is the only way to deal with our chaotic world. If you don’t know what you strive for, who does?

Write and check-in with your ‘inner GPS’.

Resources

I just came back from the motherland where I had a chance to visit a relative who lives on a small farm. When driving back to the city, the green fields were passing by through my urban eyes. Something was growing there. I saw emptiness. I could imagine how expensive time and capital wise is to be a farmer in today’s world.

Many people now live in cities, some – abroad. Many work on-line. I’m one of them.

This week felt like travelling back and forth in time. I virtually attended a conference on the technology used to solve humanity’s problems. One of the commentators said that “big data is like a natural resource, it’s abundant”.

It reminded me a farm: cows I saw and milk I drink every day. It’s a value chain. Cows eat the grass and produce milk. Milk then is used for butter, cottage cheese, yoghurt, smoked cheese, you name it. Milk is a resource that drives many products and creates the industries.

In today’s world, data is this resource that drives many products and creates the industries. Big organisations produce data, technologists organise this data, smaller organisations create products using this data. I sit between technologists and smaller organisations known as startups.

I’m excited and curious about this new resource. Imagine how farming would be different in near future? I’m also aware of the fact that an infrastructure is needed to make such dream come true.

Just like with any resource, there are concerns to address: safety, cooperation between industry, science, governments and NGOs, quality standards.

But, there’s a problem. The rate technology is evolving is so much faster than milk production in the past. Many can develop technology today because of the cost. It’s so much cheaper to acquire skills and people to create technology than to create a milk production farm.

This debate must be quick.