Sometimes fear is not enough to make you move.
Sometimes you need a sign to take a permission. That random encounter in front of Le Pain Quotidien earlier today is the sign I was apparently waiting for to dare writing you this e-mail.
Please allow me to share my “5-flows theory” with you so that I don’t regret having missed this opportunity for the rest of my life ^_^ !

I’m running a 300-people IT company with offices in Vietnam and Paris (Dad is Vietnamese, Mom is French) that I started in 2006. Since I discovered your ideas I’ve reshaped my company around your principles plus those of people whose books you praised (Dan Pink, …). We have identified the Causes around which we gather a Tribe of people with whom we connect. I let my sales people go, in favor of Mavens and Connectors to help our Causes spread, etc. The meatball sundae would not have hold of course so all my staffs went publicly online and we recruit staffs the same way we take projects on board : by telling stories about our Causes. I also dumped Salesforce’s sales funnel approach with corporations, in favor of a pure people-centric approach. Managers are gone.

I’ve been having a great time explaining your ideas around me, in French. I get speaking invitations every now and then, though the first paid proposal only came last week. So from that success I can tell you : your worldview is quite well appreciated here in France !

However, in order to get a comprehensive picture upon which I could build my governance model, I had to add a piece to the puzzle, and that’s the piece I’d like to share with you today.

Understood, the aim is to let people connect within tribes that support a cause. My trouble was : how do we put all this in motion ? What is the raw material enabling the dynamics ? I found out that :

  • connections only happen between human beings so corporations went out of my radar

The merchant flows are exchanges of :

a) hardware goods, which have a carbon footprint and exist since mankind has invented private property, or
b) money, financial transactions that mankind invented somewhat later.

I call them merchant because they are quantifiables and scarce. On the other hand, the non-merchant flows are exchanges of :

c) Knowledge
d) Trust
e) Emotions

They are not measurable (at best, somewhat approximate trackers can be developed), and they are abundant, i.e. I don’t loose knowledge when I share it, I don’t need to distrust someone before I can trust someone else. Because of these characteristics they don’t follow market dynamics and make behaviors unpredictable.

Of course, hybrid transactions do exist like when Apple leverages upon a huge capital of love (through beautiful design) and reputation (which is a one-to-many form of trust) to make a lot of money by selling at premium price. However, because these flows can’t be reduced into numbers, they don’t fit in an Excel sheet and that makes is tremendously difficult to sell shareholders on strategies leveraging non-merchant flows. Unsurprisingly, none of the Google/Amazon/Facebook/Apple depend on their shareholders..

So using that framework, what Taylor did to kick off the Industrial Economy was to reassure the owners of capital that their money would not be lost because he had found the secret to make people predictible, thus enabling the planification of production. The deal can be simply put as : “non-merchants flows are not allowed in the factory”. It is considered unprofessional to cry at work, trust is replaced by contracts, people behave like machines. Which led not only to the TV-Industrial complex, but also to that big schizophrenia between personal and professional life, between worker and consumer. Thank god the digital disruption is putting an end to all this, as we progressively realize how much committed one can become by engaging with his entire self (mind, body, heart, relationships).

I now see all my activities under this light. My goal is that each and every member of my tribe is satisfied with the amount (quantity and quality) of his 5 flows, inwards and outwards :

  • (Matter) Did I receive the right amout of material conditions, am I happy also with what I gave?

The trick is that of course the non-measurable flows are subjective so all I can do is ask people their honest belief. I use the social pressure induced by transparency to entice people to play fair game.

That’s my little 5-flows theory that I needed to develop to turn your other ideas into practice. I hope you will find it useful. The non-merchant flows have always existed of course, the big change that occured with the Internet is that while they remain non-measurable, digital technology enables us humans to manipulate and grow these flows with a tremendous efficiency.

Kind regards,
Duc, Linchpin Padawan

Entrepreneur, father, barbarian, dreamer, prospectivist, teal evangelist, optimistic, french-vietnamese, parisian, feminist, caretaker. Blind to legal fictions.

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