Captain's Log Issue #92 - Stories
Julian Stodd, December 2019

I am home after two weeks of intense travel, through the UK and Europe, that allowed me to share my latest work and thinking with a broad and diverse set of communities: from the military to government, technologists to community activists. As ever, I’m struck by two things: firstly, how there are good people in every space, good and kind people trying to do good work, and secondly, how every system feels constrained, typically by the other good people within it.

You can understand a great deal about systems by viewing them as entities of story and belief, and understanding how opinion aggregates around dominant views, and collapses into opposition.

Our son will be eight months old at Christmas, which means we get one year to rehearse our Christmas Story. Whilst modern Western society has lost many of the rituals and artifacts of the past, some remain, and none more tinsel strewn and scented than Christmas. But we don’t want him to grow up thinking of Christmas as a time for ‘things’, but rather a time for people. And a time for kindness. So we are writing our family traditions.

We all grow up with the way that things are: Christmas morning, opening presents, what you always eat, what you always watch, and so on. But these things are not incidental: we have the chance to shape that experience, and what better time to do it than at the start of a new life.

Our Christmas story is about a kind giraffe who gives shelter to an orphan elephant. It’s not Harry Potter I know, but it’s a simple story about the simplest of things. To be kind.

Some people believe in absolutes: absolute good, absolute evil, innate qualities. But I take a more pragmatic view: we learn to be the person that we are. And our role, as parents is to role model that, and learn it anew together. So our Christmas household will have two extra characters in it this year: a kind giraffe, and a happy elephant.

In the News

Fake News

This piece reports on the UK election story, where one of the parties switched their Twitter handle to read ‘factcheckuk’ for the duration of a leadership debate. It’s a conversation about two things: legality, and authenticity. They may not have broken a law, but clearly it breaches a code of authentic action.

The emergent social spaces, whether manipulated by global powers, or acting as echo chambers for bigotry and hate, are clearly a dominant battle ground in contemporary politics, shifting us from some form of civil consensus back to a regressive form of tribal conflict.

In this interplay of power and tribe, even losing can be winning: if Trump is kicked out of the White House, he will not magically lose his power. In the formal political sphere, sure, but in the radical social one? No, he will be, like Obi Wan, more powerful than ever.


This piece is valuable as it reminds us of the sheer breadth of ways in which established domains will be disrupted in the context of the Social Age (something that I have been writing about this week).

We are well reminded that disruption will likely be asymmetric and connective, not simply tech driven and predictable.

My Writing

I have focussed my time this week on writing a new series, exploring the evolution of Organisations from Domain systems, to Socially Dynamic ones. It’s a layer of interpretation built on top of much of my current work, but I find it useful to produce a current and coherent view of where that work is at.

I’ve called the series ‘Domain to Dynamic’, and have written four pieces so far.

This first piece explores the existing model of Organisational Design, from the perspective of how it has built from roots in industrialisation and globalisation. It takes core themes of collectivism, into effect at scale, through mechanisms of consistency, conformity, and replicability.

This second piece looks at a summary of the broad forces that act upon our current Organisations, fracturing the bedrock upon which they stand.

In the third piece, I consider the view of Codified Strength (held within systems), and the idea of Individual Agency (held by people). It presents a view that Codified Strength alone will not be enough, and that we need leadership, and space, to build Individual Agency, and then to connect it up at scale. This idea of interconnectivity is a dominant theme in my current work: understanding what it is, and how we enable it through social currencies.

This forth piece really runs in parallel, but it shows how a Domain Organisation, with Codified Strength, can be considered to be made of porcelain: holding great compressive strength, but liable to fracture when hit from the side.

What I’m reading

I only left this section in to shame myself that, for the fourth week in a row, my reading is in the long grass. I’ve barely progressed anything, despite long flights and train journeys. But, there’s always hope for next week...

#WorkingOutLoud on the Certifications

I’ve almost completed delivery of the first prototype of the Learning Science material: it’s been a tough module to complete, and I feel some sympathy for the brave Explorers who are lost in the thick of it. But I do feel that some of the core notions have worked well: essentially this work is about exploring your Landscape of Curiosity, curating your own discipline, and understanding the validity of the things that we are told (and ultimately curating the set of tools to allow us to understand this at scale - to build out own ‘Hyperbole Filter’.

What I'm thinking about

I find myself looking forward to a couple of weeks over Christmas when I can disconnect and be away from my networks and community. Probably exacerbated by travel, I find that the noise of Community can become all consuming, and that I crave the silence that lies beyond it. I notice in myself an increasingly frenetic effort to engage, and complete those myriad incomplete loose ends of writing and conversation. Which is all good, but also exhausting.

I remind myself that to shape a story that will fly far, we sometimes need to start in silence.

If you enjoyed this, please sign up and share here:

Copyright © 2019 Julian Stodd, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp