IF IT’S MAGIC, IS IT MAGIC?

So its 1994, and young Jeff Bezos is noticing that internet usage is growing a gang-busters-y 1000s of percent year on year, and resolves to leave Wall Street.

An earlier name for the soon-to-registered ‘Amazon’ was ‘Cadabra’.
He envisaged a web-based business so that books, initially, would whoosh from his garage to our homes as if – by magic.

Whoosh.
Click your fingers. Done.
Speed has some amazing effects.

When Google researched search times, teams discovered that cutting search time from one second to a tenth of a second changed user-behaviour. Respondents could not only search more, but also more deeply. From observation, ‘ways of thinking’ changed.

Our lives really, really have speeded up.
Whatever we want can appear in the blink of an eye.
It’s like waving a magic wand.
If speed is the new black (and fast v slow the new powerful v weak), what is the new……..magic?

Speed is having some odd effects on us, and on our sense of value and relationship with others.
A drone delivering a purchase within minutes or a contactless payment in microseconds divorces us from the effects, in the real world, of our activities.

The Slow Movement can barely keep up (sorry).

It’s been noticeable recently when working with teams that silences are felt to be terribly uncomfortable. (While always true to some extent, the new discomfort is a reaching-for-a-device, make-something-happen discomfort rather than an ‘isn’t anyone going to say anything?’ unease.)  It takes a while for everyone to get to a stage of pausing, wondering, and thinking without pressure. Especially in front of others.

Too much of a luxury, perhaps?
Too self-indulgent?

Which leads to a bizarre worry while hurtling towards this jointly constructed future.
What if our idea of what is magical changes from waving a wand for instant ‘whim satisfaction’ into something about timelessness – and pointlessness?

Might watching paint dry feel magical to a future generation?

SPARTACUS

In the early 1980s, a developmental psychologist (Howard Gardner) described 9 types of intelligence: these included how we relate to the world (eg spacial, interpersonal, musical) as well as how we might be thought of as ‘performing’ in the world (linguistic, mathematical etc)

Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in the 90s re-energized all those who had always harboured doubts that an IQ test had that much to do with predicting a fulfilled, happy and productive life. It was now perfectly OK to talk about self-awareness and social-awareness skills.  Teams, organisations, businesses began at last to look past old ‘master and commander’ models of leadership.

Or did they?

Technology has sped along: now we can wire up our brains, see what’s going on … and be amazed.  It is social intelligence that is now viewed as most powerful – the human power to connect, belong, influence and be influenced.

The AI community has researched social intelligence (Professor Alan Winfield UWE Bristol) amongst robots, in the spirit of better understanding human behaviour.
The discovery? A ‘culture’ emerges over time amongst a group of ‘basic’ robots, where ‘basic’ includes the ability to imitate.

As a behaviour is imitated, and imitated again, a culture specific to that group emerges.
Simply being with each other and … mimic-ing… generates a cultural change.

Type ‘Leadership’ into Amazon today and about 178,000 titles appear, titles bristling with master and commander language.  An incredible body of expert advice for any individual who wishes to be a great leader, and to effect change, is right there.

But the social intelligence findings suggest a much simpler way.

Think less ‘leader’, more ‘community’. Try working alongside each other, observing, learning, and encouraging inspirational behaviours to be imitated and incorporated.

The culture will change.