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Results: Is networking notworking?

Our June Thinking Tank reflected on the rights and wrongs and changing trends in networking – online and offline. More below…

Espresso summary

Online networking in particular is on balance seen more as a force for good, encouraging transparency, connectedness and egalitarianism.

  • benefits: Egypt
  • benefits: an online debate includes a much wider audience not just a handful behind closed doors
  • consequences: transparency will become a bigger issue. We must think about what we stand for and live with integrity
  • tools: certainly not Facebook. Too much info too easy to grab

Medium summary

USAGE: All participants network more now than 5 years ago, mostly much more. The additional networking is on-line though offline is still used – in a focused and contributory way.

  • online platforms are a great tools to get back in touch with people we somehow lost track of
  • more efficient use of my professional time, especially with respect to increased time pressure
  • Offline I am having more focussed conversations with people I largely know, making the most of relationships that are already solid

BEHAVIOUR: there is not a consensus on how personal behaviour changes online

  • I think I am more open, more human, online (SPLIT VOTE)
  • still weird to market yourselves almost as a product  this way (SPLIT VOTE)

TOOLS: most mentioned is LinkedIn. Feels safer and more professional for the group. Also useful for finding the right people to employ or collaborate with. Facebook seen as much more lightweight – entertainment and gossip, not serious business. Not much twitter yet for these senior managers.

  • those profiles on LinkedIn do help to stay in touch or to find people with specific qualifications
  • I find twitter the most efficient for developing contnections in a new sphere (SPLIT VOTE)

BENEFITS: The speed of communicating uncensored information has risks but is mostly seen as a benefit. There is a sense that conversations are more direct, fairer, more objective – more productive.

  • indeed there is much more social openness in groups on the net then in real life
  • Now an idea can gather support, be challenged, be improved, increase awareness and get implemented in a much shorter space of time
  • crowdsourcing to generate ideas in any possible fields
  • more people can participate.. it creates a new democratice force
  • you connect on the basis of shared needs / interests – which makes it easier to set a step towards ‘action’
  • more egalitarian in terms of rich/poor countries and individuals. Not just the CEOs and presidents who know the score.

RISKS: there is only half as much support for comments about risks – of course they exist, but they are not seen to be as important as the benefits. There was some concern of risk of fraud and manipulation but not widely supported.

  • lack of critical reflection
  • fragmentation of focus and shallow analysis
  • good people or organisations can get taken down by an online campaign that spreads like wildfire but is just malicious, not true

FUTURE: the majority think that online networking is a game changer and it will make a difference to how we work, how we present ourselves to the world and what we can achieve.

  • We are just a the beginning of learning how powerful we can be if we connect
  • Surprisingly it is in world of politics that we have witnessed impact the most so far, but this is very new, business will follow with some dramatic changes due to networking
  • Maybe the idea of work has to change to reconcile this! [networking/notworking]
  • I think we are in a new world: Egypt, Tunis, Libya, Syria are all examples of this new world.

And final word of advice from our posters to all our readers:

  • follow your values and don’t post crap

Grande summary

This pdf file contains all the 64 statements that made it to Synthetron (supported) status plus the results of the polls. Interesting to note that 36% of the Synthetrons were originally stated by the same participant – one of you has their finger on the pulse! 1106 The Thinking Tank Networking or Notworking full report

Next Tank: 16 June 2011: To network or to notwork?

Is twittering just for twits? Or can you not work without networking? Are you face to face or screen to screen? What does that reveal about you?

Here is a random selection from tweets on #networking:

  • How to: Supercharge Your LinkedIn Profile
  • Tired of adapting to Facebooks constant changes? Need a new networking platform?
  • Driving Results Through the Power of Social Networking
  • The invent of the social networking sites have made everyone these self-imposed multi talented humans

Just a quick sample but already it shows what an obsession this is all becoming.

  • I tweet therefore I am? (Tweet now with #notworking)
  • Do you use work to avoid networking or the opposite?
  • What is the breakthrough thinking that takes this up a notch from chatting aimlessly at the virtual bus stop to something that can change our world?
  • Top tips for networking?
  • Top tips for notworking?

Join the debate live online here. 4pm UK time. Thursday June 16th

Results: why we are not as ethical as we think

One of the first things I noticed about today’s debate was the poll results. At the beginning each participant rated themselves on a scale of 1-5 how ethical they are. The weighted average was 4.4. At the end of the discussion we took the same poll and scored ourselves as 3.7. As a main premise of Bazerman and Tenbrunsel’s recent book “Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It” is the tendency to turn a blind eye to our own failures to be ethical (like the mice on the right), it seems that the Thinking Tank helped to raise consciousness. It’s a good start.

And some of the well supported statements in our last 5 minutes was a good finish:

  • when I tell my wife what I was doing all this time on my pc I shall answer, I was working on how to make the world a little better
  • Thank you very much- I think we learned quite a lot due to our anonymous discussion…….

What we need to be ethical

We generally agreed that ethics were necessary and standards should be met. But how? The 2 strongest statements in the debate were both about what support we need to be ethical:

  • a clear set of values
  • having the guts to risk being unpopular / sacked, having a greater purpose

We also agreed (like Barry Schwartz on TED) that actions speak louder than words:

  • it is not about the word but more about the behaviour
  • Yes, bringing ethics into everyday life and conversation is a great idea. It cannot be left in theory-land
  • ethics is not just a philosophical concept, it is a day to day issue to discuss and bring to life
  • It is not sustainable for us to all behave selfishly (often the opposite to ethically). In the end we all suffer

And the actions that the group supported most strongly are:

  • I will live and act more closely to my set of values
  • I must be on the alert watching the public discussion on ethics, including the role of the churches and our politicians, discussing these items with my family and children
  • speak up if I notice unethical behaviour

The ethical problem

We also had a frank discussion about the challenges of ethical behaviour. Although as a group we found it easier to criticise others (child abusers, politicians, high profile business fraudsters) than analyse our own shortfalls, there were some personal admissions:

  • So easy to lose touch with reality and believe in your own version of the universe
  • The same thing happens with discounters when they mistreat their employees but you go there shopping almost every day

The most common feelings from behaviour falling short of our own ethical standards is guilt

  • Feel like I let myself and others down. That I was not enough.
  • Feel like I just learnt something and will avoid that mistake next time
  • Turning a blind eye is easy in the short term than hard to live with in the long term. I feel like a coward

If this is an issue that interests you and you would like to see a complete list of the 100 statements put forward and evaluated, contact me cmshovlin@gmail.com. Join us next month? Thurs June 16th, 4-4.45pm UK time. All welcome.

Try this May 31 at 1pm UK time: RSA talk on Jonathan Wolff on #ethics and public life.

Next Thinking Tank 19.05.2011 “We’re not as ethical as we think”

This is the challenge thrown down by Max H. Bazerman, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Ann E. Tenbrunsel, a professor of business ethics at the University of Notre Dame. Their new book examines the reality gap between how “good” we like to think we are and what we do in practice. Uncomfortable stuff.

The main causes they identify include biases and prejudices, turning a blind eye and self interest. In our discussion we will attempt to look at our own blind spots and consider what we – and society – can do to address this issue.

Join us for this online debate where we dare to examine our deepest motives. 45 minute live event on Thursday 19 May. Starts 4pm UK time, 5pm CET

See here for information about their book: Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It

Join the discussion here. As promoted on RSA USA website

Thinking Tank 21.03.2011 Global or local?

The subject for this week’s Thinking Tank discussion Is Local or Global? Where would you start to make the world a better place?Thinking Tank debate Global or local

When I worked in multinationals and international development, I was all for global solutions. The more time I spend at a microcommunity level the more I wonder if it isn’t just the same – so we may as well do something where we find ourselves. You may feel though that big initiatives like global warming need a top-down approach.

This Thursday, online, at 4pm GMT. Be local, be global, enlighten and be enlightened. Stretch your mind with people you might never otherwise meet. And if you can’t make the live event, why not twitter now using #tanklocal and we can feed in your comments

Next Thinking Tank 17.03.2011 4pm OR 8pm GMT

In our next discussion we will consider Enlightenment 2.0Bold Vision Enlightenment 17.03.2011. What does it mean to you? Does it matter? Does it help?

Both discussions will follow a similar format, though the journey can be quite different depending on who is there. Pick the time that suits you best 4pm GMT or 8pm GMT.

Be enlightening, be enlightened. Stretch your mind with people you might never otherwise meet.

Pick the time that suits you best 4pm GMT or 8pm GMT. Be enlightening, be enlightened. Stretch your mind with people you might never otherwise meet.

Inspiration: http://www.thersa.org/events/vision/animate/rsa-animate-21st-century-enlightenment

Thinking Tank on Crime and Punishment 17.02.2011

In this debate we took a broad look at the challenging area of crime and punishment. Considering reports of high correlations of those in prison and those with dyslexia, communications disorders, child abuse, sexual abuse etc, maybe it is time we reflected on how to address crime in a more integrated way – and we saw more empathy for criminals than the popular press might suggest.

For the first time we ran the discussion at two time slots – afternoon and evening (GMT) to see which worked best. Turn up at the evening slot was very low but we will try it again in the March 17 debate in case that is just a one-off. All the results below are based on the combined debates. All comments are verbatim and got support from at least a third of the group, those in bold had majority support.

Tough on crime and the causes of crime?

The overall attitude towards crime was split with about half the group on the “hang them” side of the spectrum and half on the “heal them” side. There were diverse views about the underlying causes of crime because of this diverse group of participants, but we did agree on:

  • lack of community
  • sadly enough it is often related to social factors, education, family life, role modelling.. moral values

The view that “there are really bad people out there” split the vote, but there was general agreement that putting all crime in one basket from shop lifting to murder was unhelpful. The Thinking Tank did not feel that it was reasonable to manage these through the same system.

  • I am more relaxed about petty crime.. the stolen PC etc is annoyance, but no infringement in my family’s physical safety
  • Though crime is always crime I think a clear classification of crime is needed. Also perhaps for really petty crime a better way of dealing with it.
  • eg just focus on violent crime / criminals


There was a lot of debate about the possibility of pretty much anybody losing their path and becoming a criminal of some sort. Many did not see criminals as a different species. But there was not enough convergence on this view to generate strongly supported statements other than:

  • Criminals come in all ages, ethnic backgrounds, etc.
  • I’ve done massage for women prisoners. Very moving (and disturbing) that they are so unused to kindness

There was much more agreement on the positive aspects of criminals, particularly if they are reformed and prepared to communicate about their journeys:

  • There are some reformed criminals who make excellent mentors for younger people. They understand how it goes, on the right wavelength, high credibility and a strong message
  • indeed my son has been given info from an ex drug addict criminal and this has helped him
  • My decorator was an armed bank robber… now he works in the local community centre and tries to discourage young people from making the same choices that he made
  • Yes, I think there are examples in lots of communities where criminals have made a positive contribution to society.  In terms of peer education, many young people are more likely to listen and take heed from people who have experienced it themselves.  It’s much more meaningful and so if they can prevent even one other young person from following a life of crime then that is positive

But this wasn’t enough for everybody and these statements also got support:

  • I don’t like the hopelessness of giving up on people but I’m no softie either, I’m a mum of 2 kids … I agree with the comment re life should mean life … but for me that would be a lifetime’s worth of rehab I guess!
  • Although I can see many criminals as “victims”, I believe that their real victims are more entitled to attention and fair treatment – which is not trivial

What next?

Lastly we discussed ideas for useful action in this area – which focused on prevention and cure rather than punishment.

  • Rehabilitation through work: couldn’t prison sentences be turned into useful work ? Doesn’t have to be slavery …
  • “I have recently learned how poorly “re-entry” into society is managed. Criminals need to be welcomed back if they are to “”recover”” rather than be treated as outcasts – so they may as well reoffend.
  • If criminologists can use their skills to work out who committed a crime, or profile a likely murderer can they not use this insight to help prevent criminals before they are fully developed?

To see the full list of comments made contact Catherine Shovlin
Some Inspiration:
TED talk by Kiran Bedi – the female former Director General of the Indian Police Service who introduced education and meditation for all in one of India’s toughest prisons.
Lord Ramsbotham on startups not lockdowns
Life science in prison TED talk
Women in prison. Smart Justice video on youtube

Homeless or hopeless? Thinking Tank 20.01.2011

A thoughtful discussion with widespread empathy for the cruelty of homelessness and its impact not just practically but in a wider sense

  • it must simply be awful if involuntary
  • being homeless would be an extreme vulnerability nowhere to rest

Why does it happen?

There was reflection on the individual’s state of mind and external factors combining to create this situation

  • Causes: chaotic life style, inability to cope, loss of job, mental health issues, ill equipped to cope with life (life skills absent) lack of self esteem exacerbating chaos and belief of inability to cope eg forget to pay the rent so evicted
  • Cause: discharge from institutions definitely but also loss of financial resources, running away ( yes children but also adults), nowhere to go/maybe thrown out, no resources at all. That said a few do actually choose it.
  • I feel sorry for homeless women and children who have had to escape domestic violence
  • And those who are homeless because their home was destroyed by war or natural disaster

… as well as acceptance of shared responsibility for the issue.

  • [we need to] think radically about housing solutions that ignore everything we know and look afresh at the issues
  • The practical issues of being homeless seem secondary to the causes (practical or psychological). No point addressing the symptoms and not the cause


No talk of the homeless as a problem to others, begging or other negative issues raised in the popular press. The reaction was much more humane:

  • downside: wasted human potential
  • downside: children growing up homeless must struggle to ever feel secure / worthwhile
  • there is a big moral implication
  • downside: home has become associated with personal value. Someone with a big house counts for more than someone with a small house who counts more than someone with no house. A big house is a delight, but doesn’t make a better person
  • downside: the children get bullied/miss education and the cycle continues
  • temporary = feeling insecure
  • [feeling] Damp cold lonely miserable depressed unloved

Benefits of a sense of home

  • Home is not a building but a feeling of belonging which is essential to a feeling of wellbeing and worth
  • Home is an internal feeling not an external condition

Actions and Ideas

Both personal and political actions were suggested and these are the most supported:

  • One evening I took 2 homeless guys on the street to Pizza Hut. They enjoyed the meal but more importantly we all 3 had a great conversation. Gave me a lot  of insight and re-humanised the homeless for me.
  • Think radically about housing solutions that ignore everything we know and look afresh at the issues
  • Lobby government, read widely, school offspring to avoid debt
  • Redevelop the concept of govt housing but in a society based context, not just a poverty farm on the fringes of town. Ensure formerly homeless people are properly supported and become part of their new neighbourhood
  • Try to separate the wealth / ownership side of housing from the home related issues. eg Allow wealthier people to buy shares in someone else’s home. Not to live there  but get some of the benefit of value increase.
  • provide homes for people who are made homeless because they have left their previous “home” for good reasons ( abuse, …)

Note that all statements in italics are verbatim comments that received support and little or no opposition from the group. Those in bold had no opposition and the highest level of support.

The last word from one of our participants

  • thank you for providing such an important platform and a lively debate.

For further information on this subject see:

  • The Big Issue exists to offer homeless and vulnerably housed people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income. http://www.bigissue.org.uk/
  • Shelter – help us help who’s next to lose their home. http://www.shelter.org.uk/
  • and many others in your country or on twitter (search #homelessness)

Peace Thinking Tank 16.12.2010

A far from peaceful debate, though with slightly more convergence around barriers to peace than we saw regarding desirability or actions for peace.

There were clearly different schools of thought – the peaceniks and the economists for one.

The most strongly supported statements throughout the discussion was about the challenge of peace (less appealing than polarity):

  • It brings focus to be against something. A sense of unity. Easier to agree on what we hate than what we love

Building on the earlier statement:

  • Polarity give us a feeling of safety or of “righteousness” it is clearer to see what one stands for.

Guest participants
As a new feature we had “guest” participants – relevant quotes from a range of well known people. Not all of them went down well, but top performers were

  • When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” Peace Pilgrim
  • Without conflict, there is no progress or change.” Marx
  • As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” Nelson Mandela
  • If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” Dalai Lama

And these views were reflected in our conclusions at the end of the debate:

  • more than ever we need leaders who are able to move the crowd in an ethical way
  • funny he we talk about world peace and yet our own peace over Xmas is a challenge :)
  • I like the comment that peace requires “material and cultural equilibrium”  bit this may be the start of a possible solution!

Barriers to peace – religion, poverty and ignorance

Before we got there though, we considered why peace is so elusive – what gets in our way?

  • Religion was an early suspect: Or power struggles USE religious beliefs to generate loyalty
  • And poverty: how can you feel peace in your heart when you are hungry every day
  • Lack of guidance: Who teaches children about peace? parents, schoolteachers, priests, etc: – not many of them
  • And greed: We don’t want to be equal, we are greedy to be better off than average. So we encroach on each other

Personal actions

As usual, at the end of the debate we considered the actions we could take personally. In the course of the discussion, some developed an appetite for peace action:

  • There is still time to do something for peace in 2010! 15 more days!
  • Support charities working for peace!
  • In the home / workplace / community / traffic jam I might try to notice when I’m taking a polarity position instead of a wholeness one
  • make peace with one of my enemies
  • I am buying peace as my xmas presents

The Earth Talks Back. Thinking Tank 21.01.2010

We structured our debate a little differently this time, asking participants to have a conversation with Planet Earth. This approach gave a different flavour to the debate – making it a bit more immediate and touching.

Here is some of what was said:

Q: Please share your reasons for joining today’s debate

  • I am here because I have a sense that COP really repeates the ways of working that are not working anyway. I feel that what it suggests is that the moral right to act lies outside the structures we have created. maybe its lies with each of us as individuals.
  • Nothing has been happening since COP either

Q: EARTH: I was interested to see what happened in Copenhagen. How do you think I should be feeling now. Please explain your answer.

  • I sense some of the groups (350 for example) are re-grouping.
  • Something has changed, but I don’t know what yet
  • Maybe it’s up to us then if they (the foremost leaders) are not up for / up to the job

Q: EARTH: Despite the big talks, I believe there are some things that are hopeful on a more human scale. Can you tell me any good news from your point of view?

  • I see more & more people interested in community
  • Regardless of the debates on climate change being “true” or not, we are abusing the earth and could do with a rethink
  • I feel that we are beginning to accept that its up to us, and just to us, not institutions, not someone else, just me & you
  • I feel more optimistic whenever I hear of people believing in the future and working for it, instead of shrugging and looking the other way
  • I do not think this is about big action only… it is about us 7 bln people doing all some small different things… the multiplier effect is real big
  • There is a movement called ARK (acts of random kindness) in Ireland – its a business as well. It have 3000+ fans on Facebook & it talks about giving profits to good causes, fans are asked to ‘do acts of random kindness’

Q: EARTH: Where do YOU fit in all this? Are you one of the good guys or one of the bad guys?

  • When living in Western Europe, it is difficult not to feel as a bad guy, unless you go and live in a hut in the forest
  • I do believe we are responsible and that we can solve this. But I don’t devote everything to saving you Earth
  • I feel different just for declaring that I’m a “bad guy”. Maybe that is the beginning of me changing my mind

Q: EARTH: If I’m to get through the next 100 years in one piece, what are the most important things that need to happen?

  • Education – changing education
  • Reconnecting – people with people, people with nature, insides with outsides
  • Accepting that enough is plenty, letting go of ‘endless growth as a model’, coming to realise what living on a planet means & that as humans we are part of, rather than masters of, a living system
  • Tell the pope that the pill is a good idea
  • different growth .. if we start valuing more the capacity to have time then eg then pure consumption..the whole economy will be triggered differently.. a different kind of clean currency?
  • different growth or way of looking at progress.. more about efficiency with respect to resources, more about rewarding and striving for values which are less money but more related to human values, beauty etc
  • The Green Schools movement is really encouraging – maybe we need a new model
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