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5 / 10 / 2016
Fear of time is paralysing. We are time bandits we eat time.
4 / 10 / 2016
Well that was a damn failure. Here we go again. What we should give for an opinion. Allow nothing to filter pass without adding your piece however wrong, right, ill informed or rude. Flavour it.
12 / 01 / 2016
What makes an innovator, an innovator with a lateral moral and social agenda . We are running out of living heroes. The most profound gift we give our kids is the facility to be endlessly curious. "Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming" - David Bowie
13 / 01 / 2016
David Bowie reincarnate as a childs toy rabbit. A series for children with majestical music and abstract comedy, each episode with a moral cunundrum. Just saying.
En route to London from Lille. Need french and france in our lives. Allez
14 / 01 / 2016
Always speak to the man in the colour clothes. "you have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes" - Westwood. How true. To Bowie and Mrs Westwood, here’s to a more interesting life. Opening at the lumiere festival london, brushed back hair and loafers, and one chap with a red blazer who makes musicals. Joel. Not bad banter.
China in Chinese Words
This is a small collection of Chinese words and phrases that at times can best reflect life and business as I've experienced it in China. Inspired by the wonderful book China in Ten Words.
Meaning fuzzy, blurry, unclear...things are purposefully uncertain, it's a means of protection and saving face. Few things in China are binary, decisions are made communally and derived over time. Decisions are fluid and subject to change. Life and business isn’t linear, it’s circular.
Meaning flexible, elastic, agile...one must be prepared to adapt and adapt quick. China and living in China is to be in a constant state of flux. To find harmony one needs to find balance, and be prepared to perpetually respond to the changing nature of a rapidly changing society.
Literally translated as 'slow slow come', and more generally means 'take it easy', 'take your time, it will happen - things will come’. Life in China is quick paced but the purpose is long term. China doesn’t suffer from short-term election cycles, and isn’t a society that demands immediate short-sighted results. China deals in the long term - long term plans, long term results and long term strategies.
Jiāng haishì lǎo de lā 姜还是老的辣
Literally meaning 'old ginger is hotter than young ginger', or the older the wiser! Authority comes with age and experience. Respect and listen to those with experience. Age merits respect.
There is an interesting chapter in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers called ‘The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes’. In it the author describes how the number of crashes prevalent at Korean Air for a period at the end of 90′s had not to do with technical failures but with the apparent reverence for authority and hierarchy in Korean culture. The incidents through this period was due to the reverential respect co-pilots afforded their lead pilots and that even when a lead pilot had made a mistake, this reverence was such that the co-pilots would still not question the authority of their superior.
The number of crashes were much less at UK and US airlines where authority and hierarchical power structures are not adhered to with the same rigidity and authority, and are not treated with the same reverence. However dissension to authority is not something that sits comfortably with Koreans. As it happens they are so uncomfortable with dissension that it led to many incidences of fatal crashes where a lead pilot had made a mistake that a co-pilot did not question.
I can’t help but draw some similarities between what I am observing during my current stay in Hong Kong. It appears that authority and the hierarchy of authority is revered with similar commendable discipline that Gladwell references in his book. While conforming to the constructs of authority in some instances is important, I propose that creative organisations in all guises require dissension to authority to enable innovation and creativity to flourish.
At a recent dinner in Hong Kong with some new local friends we were musing over the apparent wealth of creative digital agencies in London as opposed to Hong Kong. Allowing for population size variants we still found it difficult to determine why in a country where the Internet and technology is such an embedded part of everyday life, why was were there so few successful innovative and creative digital production agencies in Hong Kong? How was it that innovation and creativity through technology was so prevalent in London and in comparison at least, so apparently lacking in Hong Kong?
Our conversation led to a discussion around the culture of leadership in Hong Kong, the reverence with which the authority of leaders is afforded as opposed to the UK and the importance of ‘saving face’ and upholding a position of authority for those in authority.
It is important to point out that Hong Kong has many brilliant creative individuals and smaller creative agencies however there appears to be a lack of medium to large scale agencies. This leaves a divide that exists within the Hong Kong digital landscape between the boutique and what is common. Why is that the case?
The fear with which some of an older generation have of the Internet still startles me. The disruptive power of the Internet no longer requires discussion but the continuing inability of some of the most established industries and institutions to respond to the ever evolving nature of the Internet does still need attention. We know that those institutions who cannot adapt will perish with irrelevance and that those who have adopted a more agile approach to their organisation have an opportunity to make best use of new disruptive technologies, business models and trends as they emerge.
Leaders who allow external and internal influence from those most in touch with emerging trends, tend to be leaders of those most agile organisations. Those most in touch with emerging trends are not usually those we find at the head of large established institutions but a younger generation who are usually some notches down the usual hierarchical ladder.
Leaders of organisations most open to influence and more importantly, leaders who swiftly adopt new methods of working as influenced or suggested by those most in touch with emerging trends, tend to lead more agile, innovative organisations. That being open and encouraging dissension so that the established way of working was constantly brought in to question was an essential component of a successful organisation in a landscape where responding swiftly to new trends is paramount.
To bring it back to our conversation and the culture of reverence to leadership in Hong Kong as opposed to London. We concluded that considering the climate of respect that is afforded those in authority in Hong Kong this could be the very thing that is perpetuating the stifling of innovation as was perceived. And that the key to London’s, or creative institutions elsewhere, success was the ability of leaders of those institutions to respond and be open to new ways of working as urged by subordinates. Encourage open dissension to the established ways of working and you will thrive.
But why was the culture so apparently different, although Hong Kong is a very modern and a wealthy country it is not a very open society. While the UK is going through a critical period of disillusionment between the electorate and the political classes, the electorate can still coordinate and exercise their democratic right and openly dissent. The people of Hong Kong do not have a vote, this is not a naturally open society, there is not a culture that encourages dissension.
Our conclusion, the more open a society the less regard for established hierarchies and authority. And as a more open society, the UK is better at enabling and encouraging dissension and as such has created the cultural conditions upon which innovation and creativity can flourish.
This led us on to another discussion about how conversations around globalisation should not be about the neutralising of cultures but the ascension of something new. However I’ll leave that one for another time.