Can flying go green?
November 12, 2019
Ending badly.  Collapse, catastrophe or extinction?
November 13, 2019
Show all

Recruiting heroes for an uncertain adventure

PEOPLE WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY.  Low wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, safe return doubtful.  Honour and recognition in case of success.  Apply Ernest Shackleton, 4 Burlington Street, London.

Why don’t people turn up for events? Because they’re busy, themes aren’t relevant enough and don’t tap into a real desire (we act on desire, not need).

Twice-yearly, a marketing magazine runs a two-day ‘open innovation’ conference, according to a colleague.  Here, a well-known brand shares its greatest challenge.  Invite-only participants pay £900 each to help address it, he tells me.

Why do people attend?  Simply, it’s valuable to them and to businesses, globally.  Yes, valuable in that they had to pay a lot for it.  Also, the event is theatrical and exciting, participatory, with lights and action.  It’s also in a place they feel is safe, unusual and inspirational.  Think forest or mountains (cosy hut).  Insight beyond intellect.

We continue to discuss this…


Design thoughts for series of events / programme / movement: 

  • Build on our existing prototypes with story and action learning at the heart.  A learning community of action, addressing practical issues through deep questioning and prototyping (action enquiry).  Our next Act.  Following up by actually helping people implement change.
  • This must NOT be seen as a luxury, but an essential.  Who do you go to when you don’t know what to do? The picture we paint is more than “… we’re going to get together to solve a problem.” We articulate and package this as a challenge and an opportunity, presented in a way that engages the right people.  We need to deliver an experience beyond that of sophisticated people used to exotic holidays.
  • We make it rare — only 10-15 people (or 100 for a larger conference).
  • You pick your friends and build your relationships. How do we each prove that we can be trusted?  State our values. We invite participants who are performers: to audition. Take a screentest.
  • The value will be different for attendees, organisers and partners.  Design multi-layered value — think non-linear, circular, eg building relationships with individuals and organisations.
  • Be bold – this will be the start of a movement.  We are going to invite people capable of helping this to become a movement. We’re going to weed people out -eg application form to evidence you’re bringing creativity, heart and human vision.
  • Vulnerability is a big aspect of what leadership will need to be.  How are we prepared to be vulnerable?  What will be the effect on me? What’s in it for me?  People are suffering and don’t know why.  They’re weighed down by the armour they’re wearing.  But they’re not prepared to be vulnerable among certain people.  Complex problems such as plastic, Trump, Brexit, housing estates, AI, climate change. Convention isn’t working. What do I do?
  • A space where you can build relationships with leaders — even of your competitors.
  • Tapping deeply into the psyche. It’s different to anything we’ve experienced, and everyone will experience it in their own way.
  • Sharing culture.  What will be our attitude to IP? How will we protect our own?  IP can be a double-edged sword — if you’ve no time to develop it, can you can offer it up and benefit in some other way?



Write: a why, what, how.

Purpose personal to global.

What’s in it for partners and attendees. Where do they cross over (will be interesting)?

Statement of intent: that challenges – picks at scabs. Bold statements. Not ‘change the world’, but more allied to Shackleton’a advert. Use bold statements that are almost prequalifies.


People in positions of responsibility already recognise the need. They want to know:

  1. Why? What’s the purpose of this?
  2. Who? GD, Aston, SWM?
  3. A little of the how. Needs to challenge and pick at their pain: businesses are struggling, having to close down shops, worrying about political and economic change…


  1. Why? What’s in it for me? Relative to outcome and benefit. Big why – we’re doomed, for a better world. We’re doing it for you because you have the ability to help change the world. Imagine what business could do if it were human.  Tell GD’s story – capitalism with a human face.  Harvard Business Review: “Leadership today is about unlearning management and relearning being human.” What does it mean for an organisation to be human? Is it time to create a human business?


  1. Who? People willing to take a risk in order to become higher performers.



  1. How? Helping people be in a place (the present) where they can get things done. Generating, capturing and promoting insight beyond intellect.  Co-designing experiments to take back to the workplace.  Helping them to tell their story.

Being Personal (eg deciding and discussing as if we are family or friends), Self-aware (eg practising mindfulness), Self-less (doing things not only for your benefit); compassionate (trying to help others have a better day).

We start by trying to build a human organisation ourselves – and reflecting on how it’s working / not working and working together to try to improve it. We might start by developing an intention to convene “A bunch of people who’ve got your back, help develop your ideas, maybe partner, may be go into business with you.”

Adapting principles of biomimicry (see Fritjof Capra) there are no limitations or constraints – freedom within  a framework. We will need to discuss how that framework looks – there will be three rules. (Story of a wild fern). Innovation and exploring, from what foundations? Safe, peers, value, how we’re going to go about doing it?

Develop a simple value statement: there’s no single value – it’s more than what we wrote. Feel better about yourself, find yourself in a more confident place, personal equality balanced with global and everything in between. Of  course there’s a commercial opportunity. The threat is that someone’s getting sick of corporate life (or threatened by it).  This could lead you to a place that takes you into a new world.  Have you got the courage?  We work with the brave.  The people we invite will be especially picked — and might even have to prequalify.

It might include: Working together to ensure each of us has enough paid work; Developing a portfolio of sessions (‘products’) that we can all market, and learn to deliver; Making introductions to potential work; helping each other through the process of improving and generating income.

Think about the SDGs and impact investment.

Thoughts on invitation / selection process

  • A business-as-usual group.  Invited through partners.  Based on Mastermind (2 hr) and Scharmer’s Theory-U process (2hr), to give taste of ‘beyond intellect’ non-verbal ways of knowing. 
  • A bridge event. “PQQ” in ‘wild luxury’. Eg north/mid-Wales?  What kind of people do we want there? We’re inviting you because you’re of a type that will challenge us.  But beware that we’re going to challenge you too!


Use an activity as a pre-qualification/recruiting.  It’s risky (yet not), to take a stance and be bold and make powerful statements.  We’re not going to look into your carbon footprint – what we’re actually doing is enabling you to find new better ways for yourself, your company and the world.

Concentric rings of relationship. We’re designing a movement. Its component parts are the physical environment right way to the spiritual environment. Our brain doesn’t do all the thinking.

ABS event – pre-qualified. Something really interesting and fun happens. We move about the room and identify those 20 who really could be the start of a movement.  Let it be known this event will be held – but it’s the first stage of something the right people will really want to be part of. We don’t know what that will be because they’re going to discover.

Gathering for remarkable conversations.

We’re going to weave a thread that might generate a change, a movement.

Whatever this thing is, introduce it in a manner that the audience can decide what it is. Cf Ernest Hemmingway: Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.

Consider ALL our contacts. Eg value of inviting our ONTENTE alumni?


Newsletter Sign Up

Get the latest updates from Contented

We respect your privacy.