Monday, 2 May 2016


The morning sun is shining on the Royal Geographical Society, London Business School MBA students are smiling as they meet the torrent of delegates to the 2016 TED x event they’re hosting here. The event is called “CntrlAltDel”. There are sixteen speakers TED style - 18 minutes each. It’s day of reflection, a day of “Alt”. A day of “Ant” too…. Anticipation…

There were some interesting insights and thoughts. Here are my top six:

  • Don’t be frightened of AI …the quicker it grows the smarter we’ll get because that’s what human beings do; they improve as the bar is raised. Watch out for chess standards going up.
  • We tend to be in conflict denial (in case we make things worse and have a row). The energy from conflict is a bonus. So embrace conflict - work with it.
  • Two models. Aviation and Medicine. In aviation every mistake is admitted to, analysed and learnt from. Result: continually improving safety record. In Medicine there’s cover up, denial and blame on luck not human error.
  • We talk about leadership. How about “followership”? How about creative, reactive followership as in Tango dancing? How can I (follower) respond to their (leader) moves to build on and enhance their directions?
  • Innovation? Forget blue-sky thinking. How about, instead, a programme to stop doing those stupid things which have settled into the default behaviour of an organisation?
  • How about a new way of creating imagery in sexual education. Instead of, as in Baseball…”pitcher, catcher, getting to first, second, third base, home-run, striking out”, how about instead of that scenario a Pizza metaphor? Sharing, having the usual (or being more adventurous) or simply asking what someone wants?

It’s Pizza and Tango that have most stayed in my mind. In creative thinking (not just sex) it’s Pizza that wins as it is interrogative. It’s not about command and control. You can do it anywhere and you don’t need to dress up.

“Shall we?
What would you like?
Shall we share?
How about a Take-Away?”

The Tango model is even more intriguing. It’s also described as “partner dancing”. (And incidentally a therapeutic version was created a decade ago called Tangolates - derived from the core position strengthening concepts of Pilates.) The three stage process that speaker Sue Cox described as “embrace> connect> collaborate” sounds like a useful way to start working together and a better model than “the leader tells and the rest obey” model.

Was the day worthwhile? Of course. Entertaining, refreshing and thought-provoking.

By the way I wonder if TED as a format isn’t a bit TIRED…speeches, many too long for our shortening attention spans…all a bit too self-important?

In today’s world everyone is a competent speaker. Presenting is uniformly good. Note free, relaxed and articulate. This brings its own challenges. You have to be really exceptional to stand out.
But as an experience my conclusion is this. Prolonged listening and thinking is good for our weary brains.

1 comment:

Nick Fitzherbert said...

The one problem with the way that the likes of HBO have hugely improved TV in recent years is this. The network orders 12 shows and then extends it to 16 and ends up wanting 24. So the story has to be stretched and stretched when 6 episodes (as with BBC's Line of Duty) would probably have been about right. It's not nearly such a deal with a mere 18 minutes, but maybe the brief should be that they don't have to fill up the whole 18 minutes just for the sake of it.