Thursday, 30 April 2015

Another way of thinking about moving from an Old World to New World mindset

I've spent over half my life educating, exploring, provoking and challenging people to realise that the business environment  which existed for most of the previous couple of hundred years has ceased to exist.  If you know me well you'd have watched my TED Global talk about 'turbulent environments 'and green ink'  (No? Enjoy a stimulating 12 minutes now.)  Today my friend Peter Tandlich sent me through a video which in 8 minutes illustrates the challenge I have faced in my quest to get people to respond rationally to the real environment around them instead of in a knee-jerk to one which no longer exists but which they recognise, know the rules of and have the skills for.

The part in the video where the brain reverts back to the old world, just snapping back is something I once watched one of my cutting edge clients, back pedal about a decade after a merger with an Old World organisation, in less than a year they completely lost and forgot all the amazing successes and progress they had made.  And the merger partner was unable to take any advantage of the reason's they had taken them over which was their World After Midnight outlook strategy and culture.

I guess for us, the challenge from the video is compelling, if you're an 'oldie' (my nickname for anyone older than Google or who has been in business longer than facebook) prepare yourself for a tough long re-learning curve with lots and lots of falling off!  But remember it's all Smart Failure!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Commuting Heaven?...or Hell!

This was originally published on the Pentacle blog New World Times.

Commuting heaven?  What tomorrow's urban transport systems might look like.  That was the header on the BBC News page yesterday.
The illustrations were stunning... but..

21st-century future - trains?




Yesterday during an NHS NSS review 'qall' on QUBE ( Kerry Russell said, "Isn't it about time we began to think of a world post meetings"  "A world where we do things differently much better, learn new things, get the work done and make decisions?"  "This is what I liked about working on QUBE."

About a fifth of the energy we use is used for transport - mostly to move people from homes (with computers connected to the internet)  to and from offices or schools  (with computers connected to the internet) or to and from meetings.

Any serious plan to re-balance the world that doesn't involve a radical rethink about moving electrons instead of people isn't really serious.

About a fifth of the average worker's time is spent in meetings of which a quarter of that time is completely wasted, according to Management Today.  Harvard Business Review warns us that for senior management, it's more like four-fifths spent in meetings and that doesn't even take into account the time spent getting there and back!  McKinsey's warn about the wasted time.  But worrying about time is not enough.  In our fast-changing, complex world, without new learning, how good is the quality of any decisions taken in these meetings?  How good is the perspective of any plans made in these meetings?

Any serious plan to build a world-beating 21st-century business or organisation that doesn't involve a radical re-think about how to integrate continuous, collaborative learning and working into the core of the enterprise instead of individuals working independently and meeting up periodically to share 'past sell-by-date' thoughts isn't really serious.

Join us and experience what working and learning does look like in the 21st century at our open inspiration event or just contact us to find out more.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Instructions for INNOVATION*

Innovation is nothing less than:
“The process of Turning (new) Ideas into Money (or social benefits).”

1- Innovation is change – so the Laws of Change** apply. But because it is (new) change, engagement must be more than logical – it must be emotional and/or cultural

2- The Sparq of an idea goes on a journey to end up as Money (Social Benefits) – as on any journey The Speed of Innovation and time taken is Determined by the Bottlenecks not the number of ideas which set off!In a complex system there are rarely ever more than half a dozen bottlenecks. Innovation has five potential bottlenecks:

  • Lack of opportunity to begin to innovate Create the Opportunity
  • Lack of focus and clarity on ‘why’ and ‘what’ we wish to achieve or is acceptable Achieve Focus
  • Lack of engagement of the people inside or outside the organisation (customers) Engage Commitment
  • Inappropriate scale or poor protection Make t Possible
  • Ineffective execution or inappropriate project management  Make it Happen

3- For every extra idea squeezed through the bottleneck you will have an extra innovation – so increase the throughput through the bottlenecks. All time and resources spent on nonbottlenecks will have no impact at all on the level of innovation achieved. Its’ not how big the funnel is it’s the size, organisation and use of the orifice!

4- Sparqs which originate outside the organisation, Pull Sparqs are at risk inside the organisation – Sparqs which originate inside the organisation, Push Sparqs are at risk outside the organisation. The closer to the end recipient the Sparq originates the more likely it will be accepted. The closer the Sparq originates to the capabilities of the organisation developing it the more likely it will be executed.

5- Because innovations change the world they enter, success is not just the impact of doing something. Success is the sum of the effect of doing something AND downsides of doing nothing!  This means that conventional business cases and value calculations are irrelevant


– Watch Eddie Obeng on TED global talking about innovation at

* From the book Who Killed the Sparq? - Get the free ebook download at
** From the book Perfect Pojects -Read it on Amazon

Meet, interact and apply this with Eddie Obeng and your work colleagues on QUBE
Read about other companies using Eddie Obeng's Innovation Accelerator

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

I've been nominated - now it's your turn...

Last month in Croatia I was soundly 'told off' for not doing all I can to make sure that I could to make sure that 'Every Single Business' person has seen my 12 minute TED Global talk. to help them thrive in our World After Midnight (WAM). The challenge has bothered me - how do I do this without it just looking like self promotion?  How do I do it as a Question4 (see Money Making Machine) at minimum   I think I have come up with a cunning plan - I will offer some fun and learning and ask the favour that people pass on the request to watch the talk!

Here we go.  Some images which made me smile since they summarise reactions to our complex- fast changing world.

So what capabilities do you have access to which you aren't using?
Are you giving away wheels or dragging the cart?
If you smiled a little, please tweet and blog about WAM and nominate a couple of your friends to watch Smart failure for a fast changing world on TED and nominate their friends...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

When Habit Trumps Innovation

If you know me , you'll know I like quirky, non-mainstream tech. At home I still have a "Pick up, tap, tap, tap  and shout 'Operator' several times!" phone and a Bakelite phone (both still work!).

In the late 1980s I decided to "splash the cash" and buy a cordless phone.  I'd seen it for sale in Tottenham Court Road in London but the stimulus, as always, was when I described it to a friend.  They laughed at me impulsively and asked why on earth anyone would need a cordless phone?  As a rule I use derisory laughter at ideas I propose as a sure-fire acid test of innovative change.  So I bought it, took it home and installed it.

I waited patiently for someone to call me so I could experience the freedom of walking to the hall, answering, and walking back to the room I'd been in and continuing what I was doing rather than as usual, being forced to sit chained (or corded if you prefer) to the phone in a freezing hall!.

I waited.  Then it rang.  Joy!  It was my mum.  I picked up the phone, sat down and fifteen minutes later was shivering as I hung up.  Yes. I had done what I had always done picked up the cordless handset and sat down next to the base on the bench we always sat on to make calls. 

When the moment for innovation came, I simply forgot my opportunity to do something different.  My automatically learned actions kicked in. I didn't even consider not sitting down - it never came up into my conscious decision-making brain!  It took a pile of books on the seat and about a month of conscious hard work to create the habit of picking up and walking away.  (Developing the habit to put the handset back was far easier - I didn't have to unlearn anything.)

Despite my best efforts my habit subverted my conscious desire to innovate.

I was reminded of that story today when I came across a number of long email exchanges between several Pentacle tutors who've just joined the network.  Just like me, they had let habit overcome innovation.  As Pentacle tutors they now have access to QUBE the most powerful collaborative-social medium in the world - they could easily have resolved the discussion on QUBE with a meeting as qubot avatars or by working asynchronously or by leaving videos or snapshots to explain the details but instead they had resorted to multiple emails!

Despite our best efforts our habits sometimes subvert our conscious desire to innovate.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

How many fingers can you cross?

At the moment my record is eight fingers, four toes, two arms, two legs and a knitted brow!

I'm very excited about our work with the team at Wolters Kluwer (the firm that specialist advisers turn to for specialist advice!)   Led by Elisabetta Galli the WK/Pentacle team used QUBE to do the impossible.   Usually, I'm the one persuading and pushing for people to leave the Old World and move to the New but it was a real joy to work with Elisabetta whose vision and determination were enriching.  The team had to deliver a global project (which normally would have taken at least four months), learning and applying WAM tools and techniques to a challenge which required deep buy-in from very senior leaders from around the globe.  Not only was the project delivered in record time of less than a month.  the participants were left with some new, strong and deep working relationships.   Illustrating how working virtually on QUBE can often be more humanly enriching than traditional meet, squeeze hands and watch body language events 

So why are my fingers crossed?  Because we have been shortlisted for the prestigious Wolters Kluwer Innovation Awards!

There's more on the Pentacle New World Times Blog and please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me

Monday, 19 May 2014

Competition Please suggest what my final message should have been...

Please suggest what my final reply should have been!

You need to read to the bottom. 
IMPORTANT: Don't forget the Topic of the Conference as you read...  

"IMETI/CITSA  2014"  <>

29/03/2014  10:25
Subject:        Last CFP - Joint  Events: 1)  Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and  Technological  Innovations


Dear    Eddie Obeng,

We would like to invite  you to  participate in the following related joint conferences  on:

•   Cybernetics and Information  Technologies, Systems and  Applications: CITSA 2014  (,  and/or
•   Engineering and  Technological Innovation:  IMETI 2014  (

To be  held on July 15 - 18, 2014 in Orlando, Florida,   USA.

The deadline of papers/abstracts  submissions  and invited session proposals is *April 15, 2014*.
The deadlines   for notification to authors and camera ready upload can be found at the  events  web site.

Events being organized in the   context of IMETI 2014, with the same set of deadlines, are the  followings:
•    Computing, Communications and Control  Technologies: CCCT 2014
•    Optical Engineering and  Photonic Technology: OEPT 2014
•   Engineering  Education  and Educational Technologies: EEET 2014
•   Energy   Engineering, Economics and Policy: EEEP  2014
Web pages of the collocated  events can  be found at where you  can also check for possible extensions of the submission   deadline.
Submissions for Face-to-Face or  for Virtual Participation are both  accepted. Both kinds of submissions 1) will  have the same reviewing  process, 2) the accepted papers will be included in the  same proceedings,  and 3) authors of the best 20%-25% papers will be invited to  adapt their  papers for their publication in the Journal of Systemics,  Cybernetics, and  Informatics with no additional costs, i.e. the respective  Article  Processing Charge will be waived for  them.
Details about the following  issues  have also been included at the conference web site (URL given  above):
•    Pre- and post-conference virtual  sessions.
•   Virtual  participation.
•    Two-tier reviewing combining double-blind and  non-blind  methods.
•   Access to reviewers’ comments and evaluation   average according to eight criteria.
•   Waiving the  registration fee of  effective invited session organizers.
•    Best papers  awards.
With the purpose of fostering  *Inter-disciplinary Communications*  participants registered at any conference or  symposia can attend any  sessions of the collocated events. Registered  participants will also  receive a CD containing the proceedings of all collocated  events, and will  have a password to access any virtual session of the collocated  events, so  they can comment any paper presented at any of the collocated  events.

Best  regards,

IMETI/CITSA 2014 Organizing   Committee

If you wish to be removed from  this  mailing list, please send an email to  with REMOVE MLCONFERENCES in the subject line. Address: Torre Profesional  La  California, Av. Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela.

Sent: Sunday, March 30,  2014  6:46 AM
Subject: Re: Last CFP -  Joint  Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and   Technological Innovations
Importance: High

Dear   IMETI/CITSA  2014 Organizing Committee

Thanks you for  your invitation

I would be  delighted to participate in  the conference and to present a paper  on  Educational technologies an area  I have worked in for over 20   years

Unfortunately  I will not be able to attend the  conference - would it be possible to  deliver my paper using the platform I will  be discussing (

It is a fully  immersive platform and I will be able to combine  participation in my  presentation with an on-screen presentation for those not  logged in (I do  this often).

Please let   me know and if it is possible I will make a submission  of my  paper.

kindest   regards


Professor Eddie Obeng
What's new?    Download Eddie Obeng's innovation  murder-mystery "Who Killed the Sparq?"  from

"IMETI 2014  Secretariat" <>

01/04/2014  14:23
 To:        <>
Subject:        FW: Last CFP - Joint  Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and  Technological Innovations


Dear Prof. Eddie  Obeng

 Thank you for contacting  us.

We have recently  implemented a new submission  type, the  Virtual Participation,  meant for authors  interested in participating  in IMETI 2014 but cannot  participate physically,  be it  because they cannot afford  the travel or because of health  issues.  You can  read more about it in our  conference’s website: 


Best  regards, 

IMETI 2014 Secretariat

Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:18 PM
To: IMETI 2014  Secretariat
Subject: Re: FW: Last CFP - Joint Events: 1) Information  Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and Technological  Innovations

Dear Sir/  Madam

Thanks for your  information about virtual participation but I am used to and had been hoping for  more "immersive" virtual participation.

I use QUBE - which is what I would be presenting  the research about.  Do you have something similar?  If not I'd be  happy to offer to host your virtual activities on QUBE - it will mean that  although people can't physically be present they can actually participate.
I would  also wish to use this for my own presentation.

Would this be  possible?

kindest  regards


Professor Eddie  Obeng

What's new?   Download Eddie Obeng's innovation murder-mystery "Who  Killed the Sparq?" from

"IMETI 2014 Secretariat"
19/05/2014 15:25
          Subject:                   FW: Last CFP - Joint Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and Technological Innovations

Dear Professor Eddie  Obeng,

Thank you for contacting us.

We are sorry to inform you that the virtual participation  included in the conference is, as announced in respective web site, an  asynchronous one. We are not logistically prepared for different virtual  participations not described in the conference web site. This is due to the fact  that the conference venue is a hotel and its bandwidth is not stable. We made  several attempt in the past and had logistical and connections problems. We  tried several times synchronous participation combining broadcasting via Ustream  and twitter but it was not effective because of the non-stable bandwidth at the  hotel. To contract a dedicated bandwidth with other providers is economically  not feasible in the present budget of the conference. Hopefully it will be  feasible in future conferences.

You suggestion has been delivered to the organizing committee  of the next conference in order to see the logistical feasibility of  implementing it.


Conference Secretariat.

My final reply:

Eddie Obeng
19/05/2014 16:27

                    To:                                                            "IMETI 2014 Secretariat"
                    Subject:                                                   Re: FW: Last CFP - Joint Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and Technological InnovationsNotes Link

Thanks for letting me know - your response tickled me a little.

Best wishes


Professor Eddie Obeng


Please submit your suggestions for what I shoudl have written as my final message...

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.