I'll tell what the smile on my face meant

I’m often asked why I left corporate life so suddenly. What was the catalyst, will I go back and other related questions. And as I hear those questions I also hear a tune in my head:

So I went from day to day, tho' my life was in a rut
"Till I thought of what I'd say, which connection I should cut

Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill is an amazingly simple yet thought provoking (and often misunderstood) song. It resonates because, back in mid 2014, I didn't have a grand master plan about what I was going to do next, I just knew wanted to do something else.

I was feeling part of the scenery. I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom. "Hey" he said "Grab your things I've come to take you home”.

It can be daunting and often uncomfortable leaving the safety of a regular paycheck and going out to build a business, win clients and create value (for them and for you). Even more so if there’s no corporate payout behind you. What it does do however is make you incredibly focussed on doing work you enjoy and working with people that you both respect and like working with. It’s hugely cathartic.

You also get a chance to learn new “stuff”. One such example for me has been helping large corporations understand the impact and opportunities from social media and in this regard I’m hugely indebted to a gentleman called Thomas Power (@thomaspower) and the way he describes how companies behave.

He describes the traditional behaviours (or “machinery”) of most large companies using the acronym CSC - Closed, Selective and Controlling.

Closed - because organisations typically operate inside predefined boundaries, Selective - because you tend to tend to focus on the information that is necessary to advance the corporate agenda and Controlling because you often do this within strict corporate guidelines and defined governance structures.

Those behaviours are very different to network centric or social behaviours which Power describes as ORS - Open Random and Supportive.

Open - because, in a network, you need to accept ideas, insight and information from anywhere. Random - because this “stuff” is invariably unstructured and arrives in a seemingly chaotic fashion and you have to be supportive of everyone who makes up this network

Now the path from CSC to ORS behaviour doesn't happen overnight and is as much a personal journey as it is a corporate journey. Its incredibly hard to be genuinely open to all things, accepting of the randomness of how “stuff” arrives and be truly supportive of others but it would seem to be a path worth taking.

One thing's for sure however, if I do go back into corporate life, I’ll be looking to find and bring as much ORS behaviour and thinking as I possibly can.

Today I don't need a replacement, I'll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom, "Hey" I said "You can keep my things,
they've come to take me home."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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