Half a Hexagon
shaping simple ideas in a complex world
     7 March 2021




Backwards and Forwards

It's back to school and soon it will be back to the office. Well, not quite as back to the office as it used to be- this picture is the front of the 1889 board game from the Parker company which made the more famous office game Monopoly - but  as I wrote here, if the big boys of business like David Solomon of Goldman Sachs have their way then we might all just be good little children and return to our desks as if nothing has happened.

Except it has. The pandemic has unleashed interesting and necessary forces of change in working people and this is something I've articulated, with the help of Demos, in a new paper we published: The Nowhere Office.

What will it mean if people's work becomes as hybrid as cars? Well, it means we will have to refuel socially, as it were, going in to offices or coffee shops (I'm not sure it matters much which) to plug into some energy, some pop and fizz in conversation and ideas.



The guru of monitoring our social anthropology is Robin Dunbar, whose new book, simply called Friends, has been trailed in New Scientist. He and his researchers gave students free mobile phones in return for scrutinising their bills to see the patterns and found that there are six - pleasingly for me and my hexagon obsession - rules for keeping your friends which are:

1. Standing up for friends in their absence
2. Share important news
3. Provide emotional support when needed
4. Trust and Confide in one another
5. Volunteer to help when a friend needs you
6. Try to make your friends happy

What is interesting to me is how much to my surprise technology has helped keep these bonds of friendship going when we were deprived of face-to-face connection and only had Facetime and Zoom. Yet all of these six criteria can be done remotely.

With one exception: How about a hug?

Big Bananas



I have dislodged the fruit bowl's bananas for two books which have rather blown away everything I thought I knew about diet and exercise. As it turns out, they are connected: Dan Lieberman was the PHD supervisor of Herman Pontzer and both books rely fairly heavily on field data from the Hadza tribe of Tanzania who basically live long, are lean, walk many more steps than us a day and don't need complex diets or exercise machinery to stay fit and well.

Why? Well according to Pontzer, Associate Research Professor of Global Health at the Duke Global Health Institute, it's all to do with energy and our evolutionary discovery of fire to propel us to modernity: 

" With out dependence on fire built into our bodies, our internal and external engines were irrevocably conjoined. Our own metabolism was no longer enough. We became reliant on a second, external energy source, fire, to power our lives. We became a pyro-biological species: Homo energeticus".

Which brings me back to the energy idea. Margaret Heffernan and Robert Phillips of Jericho Chambers have also been writing about this in the context of what I call The Nowhere Office, ie how to create productive, energised workplaces: Their acronym FIRE stands for Freedom, Imagination, Representation and Emotion.

Finding purpose, energy, engagement, productivity, and in a socially health way is the key thing as the world nurses itself back to health. I'm interested in how the zeitgeist is bringing management thinkers together with evolutionary anthropology to spark - every pun intended - further discussion.


Going Gaga



Can I just go back to Zoom for a minute, or rather intimacy tech has been giving us in the absence of a hug? A friend from New York connected me with a dancer company of choreographersin Israel and before I knew it I was making a happy idiot of myself, on camera, livestreaming away to something called 'people movement' which I can assure you is not dancing but, boy, does it feel good.
 

Speaking of Connection.......Over with my other hat of running the network and content business Editorial Intelligence, we counsel, coach and connect people who have either forgotten the art of networking, hated in and need help, or like hanging out with interesting people  - take a peek.

The Show on the Road

All good things come to those who wait. Specifically, I was waiting to go on LBC to talk to Iain Dale about The Nowhere Office when I was delayed for breaking news, and so I was able to tune in to the Business Book Awards which was good because........I could find out live that I'd been shortlisted for a prize!

The Simplicity Principle was published on 3rd April 2020,  but it's managed to hold its own despite everything, winning, I'm jolly pleased to say, two business awards in the US and now being shortlisted here in the UK.

Perhaps as importantly, it has allowed me to read a whole bunch of business books I wouldn't otherwise have read, and it's a really interesting selection, with some people whose work I already know and rate highly, and some I'm just getting to know.
 
Simply Click Here (why don't you)

Finally, I've been getting through the Pandemic by reading novels and I came across Kate Weinberg's unbelievably good and unbelievably first novel, The Truants. If you like Iris Murdoch, or if you like characters who bury into your psyche, or if you like words which bring you to the windswept Norfolk coast or interior landscape of the soul then go point and click your mouse to get it.

Be well, be safe, be good, be interested (enough).

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