I’ve been worried for a long time about some of the negative impacts of social media on our lives, particularly around democratic processes – or what’s left of them. But this week took the proverbial biscuit, for me at least.
I tend to get notifications “pushed” into my iPhone homepage from various Apps such as Twitter and more frequently from YouTube. I’m not great with technology, but am sure that someone more adept would know how to turn these things off. But by Friday, I’d had a total of eight notifications sent to me during the course of the previous four days, all bar one about Brexit and five mentioning Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader by name. Here’s a sample of the headlines I’m bombarded with:
Nigel Farage’s instant reaction to leaving the EU (Recommended: LBC) Caller slams Nigel Farage’s “disgraceful” behavior in the EU cabinet (Recommended: LBC)
Bexit Party leader Nigel Farage holds a news conference ahead of a vote in the EU Parliament (Recommended: The Sun)
Nigel Farage’s dramatic final speech at the EU Parliament ahead of the Brexit vote (Recommended: LBC)
Finnish caller tells Nigel Farage why he’s so jealous of Brexit (Recommended: LBC)
It would appear that the Sun and LBC are the main people behind these so called “recommendations”. I’m guessing it’s nothing more complex than the fact that they’re willing to pay money to ensure that these video vignettes and their provocative headlines hit my screen. I don’t ask for them. I don’t want them and more often than not, I dislike and disagree with what they’re about. I don’t subscribe to either the Sun or LBC, but I get sent them anyway. I don’t know where the funding comes from, nor do I believe YouTube does either as party funding in the UK is fairly opaque below certain thresholds. I doubt they care.
Cards on the table, I’m personally very saddened by the fact that the UK left the EU last Friday evening. Living in Geneva, Switzerland, I’ll be largely insulated from any fall-out from that momentous decision – good or bad.
But whatever the result of the referendum, we should all be concerned about the forces that are eroding the transparency upon which democracy depends. I don’t have any silver bullets to solve the problem, but with social media and data analytics playing such a big role in every election these days, including the forthcoming one in the US, it’s an issue that should deeply concern us. Turning off my newsfeed from YouTube may ease my blood pressure in the short term, but it’s tantamount to sticking my fingers in my ears.
The missing month
I suppose I shouldn’t have expected an outcry about the fact that there was no December Bullog – but in fact I got a deafening silence. Why? Well, it could be down to pure indifference on the part of you Bullogers, although the MailChimp analytics suggest that a fair few of you actually open and read my rambling epistles and I do get some nice email comments from many of you (Please do keep them coming). However, it is more likely down to the fact that there was, in fact, no missing December Bullog. I just decided to rename December’s update as January. That’s right, from now on I’m going to name the Bullog by the month in which you receive it, not the previous month just past that the content relates to. So, this February Bullog is all about things that I’ve been up to our have caught my attention in the month of January. Make sense?
Speaking of which, much of January was spent easing into the new decade, but I did do my annual pilgrimage to the World Economic Forum in Davos, for my quick fix of ego-fuelled altruism. Here’s my take on it:
Annual pilgrimage of purpose
I was asked to write an article about my experience for the Business Fights Poverty website. You can read the full article here, but I’m including a short extract below:
This year, I was fortunate enough to attend one of XR’s Fire Circles. I found myself in a quiet and reflective circle, high above the village, listening to a gathering of all ages and backgrounds sharing their views on the challenges and their personal commitments to tackle them. The session was about deep listening, empathy and mutual respect. I couldn’t fail to reflect on the sharp contrast with many of the sessions I’ve attended over the years where the “ego per square metre” metric was off-the-scale.
One of my favourite sessions, and possibly the main reason I went, was a breakfast session run by Yunus Social Business to launch its new report “Business as Unusual.” The report was developed in conjunction with The Schwab Foundation, INSEAD, Porticus and The Hoffman Institute for Business in Society and features the findings of an extensive program of research involving more than 200 intrapreneurs from a wide variety of corporates.
One thing I didn’t mention in the article was the report’s finding that, quote:
“More than 90% of those Social Intrapreneurship(SI) initiatives that were aligned with the company’s core strategy benefited from C-Level buy-in and placed the SI initiative as a strategic project. Those initiatives that were launched mostly as a CSR initiative struggled the most to get C-Level attention.”
Sure, I get the fact that SI is definitely not about CSR. Also, that there does need to be a strong business case for the company to support intrapreneurs in their midst – besides simply buying into the social or environmental impact of their ideas. But I’d like to think that social intrapreneurship is more about disrupting “business as usual”, not aligning or conforming overly with it. If we can agree that we need a radical rethink of every aspect of every business if we’re to transition to a low carbon economy, then savvy corporates should be identifying and nurturing the “Rolling Stones” within their midst, rather than a homogenous crop of “Taylor Swift” me toos, willing to toe the party line!
Best of the rest
I’m delighted to say that we launched our new Craigberoch Business Decelerator promo video in January. It’s only 2 minutes long and should give you a good flavour of the types of activities that took place at our pilot Decelerator Launch Lab last November. Grateful thanks to Nic Laz from our Core Team who worked with Anthony Swords and local photographers Paul Ferguson and Martin Simpson.
As you’ll see, we’re keen to position the experience as primarily about breakthrough innovation and personal transformation – letting go of old habits and behaviours and allowing something new to emerge.
Dates for 2020 are:
2-5 April (long weekend)
You can register interest here for any of these dates.
In other news, I found myself talking about the theme of disruptive thinking and innovation at the Career Women’s Forum annual WAVE Conference (LINK) in Geneva. There were about 250 attendees (not all women) and the event was very ably moderated by John Zimmer, a public speaking and improv expert who is part of our Craigberoch “cast of performers”.
Speaking of the Craigberoch “cast”, our very own David Pearl, story teller, maestro, consultant and all round good guy, launched his new book “Wanderful: Human navigation for a complex world” in London last week and I had the honour of saying a few words at its launch. It’s a compendium of mini interviews that David did of a variety of different people, while walking around London. It’s based one of David’s side projects called Street Wisdom, a social enterprise which runs “Walkshops” all around the world, encouraging people to slow down and open their eyes to the myriad of insightful sounds, sights and experiences that are freely available on their doorstep, in the cities in which we live. You should find an event near you – they’re great fun!
….and on the personal front
I’m writing this Bullog en-route back to Geneva from Dublin, where I joined a dozen kilted friends who had gathered to support Scotland in our first match of the 6 Nations Rugby. The rather amusing message in the window in Dublin “All Brits must be accompanied by a European after 11pm except Scots. They’re sound.” Besides losing the match, I also lost my voice through a combustion of shouting, singing and one or two pints of Guinness. Supporting Scotland in most sports is a labour of love!
That’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here. Until next month,
* The Bullog = Bulloch + BlogMake sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.