Sunday, 27 May 2018

Be More Pirate - Making a Pirate

One the 18th May a book called "New Power" was recommended to me by Tim MacDonald (And he's one of the people who's advice I don't ignore!).

On the 19th May I went into Waterstones to ask if they had it... they didn't stock it (not even on their system, apparently). Pants! What to read then?

A pink book called Be More Pirate was on the shelf. My kinda book! I perused it and liked what I saw.

At the #RSAPirate talk the thought provoking and 100% accurate advice has seen The Godfather of Rebellion, Pirate Sam, tells us that he's had 50 people emailing him saying that they have handed their notice in after reading the book...WOW!

Simultaneously inspiring and whoa! regarding the responsibility of having such an impact!

I LOVE hanging out with the early adopters and innovators because they wring in the changes but, as a user... I'm a laggard. I hope this juxtaposition comes in handy regarding Be More Pirate and this development.

In "Crossing the Chasm" Geoffrey Moore user Mel Gibson's character to define the customer profiles of the early adopters and Danny Glover's character to demonstrate the pragmatists views. No idea if anyone is assisting with the paperwork and/or have identified a potential case study for this model... if not this post *Just Might* be of some use.

Turning Pirate and going through the process - Rebels with a Cause, Rewrite your Rules, Reorganise Yourself, Redistribute Power and Tell Tall Tales - Is something I've been doing for a few years and hope I might be able to help those who have come to the same conclusion as I have after reading Sam's awesome book.

This post and my next one will be one of those "Knowledge Transfer" articles and will detail examples of how and where I have followed the steps Sam recommends. Be More Pirate: The Pirate Code will follow.

My experiences are in line with the 5 steps in Be More Pirate (They are not necessarily in chronological order).

How Citizen Pirates Shop... It's a Participation Sport
On the 22nd I bought Be More Pirate a way that I hope the author might be proud of.

Me: Can you tell me where a book called Be More Pirate lives?
Assistant: Business in the Basement ("Precisely where our economy is at the moment," thinks I)
Me to my little 7 year old Pirate Spy Guy: Help me find Be More Pirate, it's a Pink book
Mission accomplished!
Assistant: You find it OK?
Me: Yep! And I'll buy it if you give me your best Pirate "Argh!"
Assistant (Enthusiastic and fun): Argh! ...complete with elbow action

Laughs all round ...and my son gets another example of how much more fun it is to be a pirate.

Wanna buy the book and break the customer-customer service unwritten rule of hand item over without saying anything (Ideally with both parties being on their phone) and leave ASAP without a word being said?

And/or the treat Waterstones like a library in that we are a little bit quieter in book shops than others?

Get the assistant to give you a Pirate Argh (Better yet get them to encourage the whole shop Argh'ing via the shop tannoy?)

Waterstone's staff... wanna go Pirate on your customers and get a raise? Put an announcement over the tannoy saying

"Customer announcement: Calling all pirates please come to XYZ floor/till. We have a customer about to buy the only copy of Be More Pirate"

Then auction it off the to highest bidder... Let's be Book Pirates!! Lol

Judging a Book by It's Cover
Never judge a book by it's cover, right?

Well I'm gonna judge this book by the cover after reading it, by doing something that I HATED at school...

What do you think the author was thinking when he used the onomatopoeia as an alliteration of a similie that was a conundrum wrapped up in a paradox when he had crunchy cornflakes instead of carefully chosen cheerios for breakfast on that cold, cold, wet day? 

Study Tip for Kids: Don't say that

"Maybe because it was on special offer at Asda,"


"Maybe that's all that was in the cupboard because the impact of the RBS Captain's Credit Crunch who #NRAM'ed the economy to bits with their #TooBigToFail old school buddies who cabled money through to them in 24 hours"

Pirate Pink?!  I'm all for womens rights and gender pay gap, love Anne Bonny and Mary Read to bits but Pink? Really? What is this Robert De Nero's character in Stardust-type piracy? ;)

Pink is most definitely is not the new Jolly Roger Pirate Black! Lol! ;) ...But kudos for going straight to paperback!)

So we have this cyberman vibe on the front cover.
A tip of acknowledgement and slight admiration to Anonymous?
And/or a glimpse into the future when people hold the book up to their face to act as a visual warning...if you're not careful you and your job is about to be replaced by AI?

Then to the back of the book... Manga style. Everything that you'd expect on the front is on the back.

"Be More Pirate"
"How to take on the World and Win"

In the right position, except on the reverse.

Penguin logo? Bottom right and sideways... as opposed to Top left and the right way up?

Barcode? Upside down.

Price? Sideways in the middle of the back cover.

Definitely the write kind of Pirate! ...And, again, that's judging the book by the cover AFTER reading it!

Wonder what my English Teacher would make of all that "What was the author thinking" stuff? Wonder what Edward Teach would make of it all? ;)

The book then goes into a history lesson in the Golden Age of Pirates and highlights how, where and why establishing a counter-culture may appear to be counter-intuitive...

But is actually the quickest and best way to affect the kind of change that people and organisations need in these days of uncertainty where leadership and new ideas are sorely lacking... but is desperately needed.

NB I am detailing these experiences in the hope of helping the people this book has spoken to, because they are right. Whether good, bad or indifferent experiences at the time... I am grateful for every single one of them! And to all the people who helped me learn them!

Be More Pirate Q)1 - What Really Holds You Back in Life?

I gave 10 years of my life to a startup where I excelled in every role held. This included expanding the number of education partners we had and established a whole new business unit: from conception to working with 50% of UK FE colleges (With 100% repeat business when I managed the project!)

The culture changed when the economy bombed and when David Cameron scrapped National Indicators and Every Child Matters (Which we'd aligned our work with) for the "Big Society" and slashed everyone's budget.

Panic and paralysis affected everyone... Politicians, educators and the organisation I worked at.

Poor decisions over the next 12 months led to a deterioration of the service and the company's income. The doors to the Glasgow office closed.

10 years of my life. A project I believed in but failed to live up to expectations because of the culture. I personally wrote over a million pounds from educators in sales for this business, the unit I created over 3 million as well as taking up hours of educators time... but had little to show for it all. Not ideal!

I vowed never to knowingly take educators time up with anything that I didn't see the value in - from a product AND culture perspective - Over the next few years I would discover that this would turn out to be not as easy as it first appeared (Optimism Bias... both a good and a bad thing)

A friend at the organisation above left and on 3 occasions tried to get me to work with them. After doing my due diligence I eventually agreed.

However, the resources in the day job were never provided so I created content in my own time in the evening. The scarcity led to innovation... and I was co-creating with potential users and customers.

Educators were saying that budgets were tight and they were asked to do more with less. I produced a report with 9 ideas based on what Silicon Valley startups were doing to thrive and shared with colleges.

After sending a single email I had 300 colleges asking for more information. After 3 weeks I had 10 colleges click "Commit to this project for £500" without making a single sales call or email after the initial idea.

All enquiries were inbound after the first email great results (All from exploring ideas out of hours).

Once again the culture wasn't right, but I didn't wait about 10 years to see if things might improve.

At an exit interview I asked what is there in this document (Provided before I started with the company) that I am not delivering on?

"Nothing" Came the reply... "We just didn't appreciate what would be involved"

The goals that I want to achieve in my world of work have remained unchanged for years now, and include:

1) To make a contribution to the organisations I collaborate with and the wider community
2) To develop personally and professionally
3) To push and challenge myself to be "Comfortable with Uncomfortable" situations
4) To make enough to pay the bills

These organisations were not giving me this, so I set out to acquire the skills to work with either major tech companies (Microsoft, Google, Apple etc) or a Silicon Valley startup both groups appear to;

i) Know how to create great products and
ii) Know the importance of core values and culture.

I did achieve one of these goals... and there were core values that spoke to me, but didn't appear to be much more than a cat poster.

Be More Pirate Q)2 - When Did you First Stand up to Power?
I always questioned the value of why were things done the way they were in work, sometimes I was listened to and ideas implemented, others my voice and ideas got drowned out.

When Borders Book Shop closed their Glasgow branch (What a fantastic shop!) Jim Collins "How the Mighty Fall" was reduced from £18 to £3... an author I admire and I felt this was a symbolic final purchase from a great shop.

As I read, I was shocked to recognise the 5 stages of decline at the company I worked. I highlighted this to my Managing Director and was met with more of stage 1: Hubris... "How dare you suggest my company is in trouble?"

12 months later, when announcing the closure of one of the offices, I presented the same email and argument from a year earlier. Managing Director said nothing on this occasion... but colleagues said:

1) You send this to the boss? You're braver than you look... you're braver than I am!
2) It's as if Jim Collins was sitting in the office watching all this unfold

As I've found tends to happen, ideas have a life cycle (Everyone talking about entrepreneurship for a while, then it's technology, then STEM, then gender). In 2012/13 every man and his dog in education was talking Entrepreneurship... Dragons Den and The Apprentice was on there were Peter Jones Academies, Espark, University Technical Colleges... and the epic fail that was Gazelle: A project to establish entrepreneurs that COST £5 million which, at it's height, had 27 colleges signing up .

I didn't stand up to this organisation, instead I shared ideas from the forthcoming Business Development Ideas in FE report that I was working on with one of the Gazelle Founders 6 months before it was founded.

The reply to the email? "Interesting I'll come back to you"

No "Interesting, we're working on an enterprise idea at the moment" and did this person come back to me? Not exactly... only when I was working on new projects and ideas did I ever get any kind of response.

When people got fed up with Enterprise every man and his dog moved onto technology and (Fanfare please) FELTAG... and the aim in 2014 is to have 50% of all FE course material online by 2017.

After trying to have sound ideas being heard (Again!) and failing (Again!) I sent an email telling the good and the great of Politics and Education Policy makers exactly what I thought of their plans.

I received the quickest and best reply that I ever have done from the pointless political classes.

If the politicians in question care to check the email that followed me standing up to them... they will find a document that pretty much has "Be More Pirate" written all over it.

What's more the ideas would have worked! But those education leads may not be in those positions any longer... so it's not their problem now, right? Kicked down the road for someone else to deal with... til the next reshuffle. 2017 comes and goes... but none of the results that were promised. The reason?

Because FELTAG "Evolved" and we're now living with the spirit of FELTAG... A bit like the Pirates of the Caribbean and Davy Jones. Lol... But all of Udacity's course material is online today.

The trick with "Being More Pirate" is the fact that the culture needs to be there. The code needs to be in place... you need to keep looking til you find and/or are able to create that culture.

In 2015 Chris Van Der Kuyl gave a keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival calling for educators to collaborate more.

I agreed with the comments and, given the startup/corporate, Gazelle and FELTAG experiences... I decided to simply get cracked on by myself this time.

When I started to share what I was doing, I was pleasantly surprised when the then Education Secretary asked me to pitch in.

Unfortunately, I was not entirely surprised when they found themselves unable to acknowledge the time or efforts of those I got involved with the education consultation... at their request.

They lacked the common decency to say "Thank You" and blocked me on Twitter, when I questioned the actions (*Sad Face*).

Oh well never mind, you'll see that I expected this and had legislated for it in my "Brand Voice" post.

A word of advice: If creating a group from scratch... It's an idea to try to collaborate with people that you have some kind of pre-history. Are they REALLY pirates? Or is it people opportunely looking to take advantage of the situation for the benefit of their own careers?

William Shockley did with his colleagues by taking credit for their work (This, and the "Traitorous Eight," played a huge role in establishing Silicon Valley's culture of collaboration).

Be More Pirate for Kids  Q)2.0 - When Did you First Stand up to Power?
Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone... and The No Homework Policy

For any young Pirates out there here's a conversation that Twitter founder had as detailed in "Things a Little Bird Told Me" in chapter 13:

"Matt was loading his backpack up with books. I was dumping all my books from my backpack into my locker, not to be seen again until the next day.

As I closed my locker and it was apparent to Matt that I had no books, not to mention a backpack, Matt asked me how I was going to do my homework.

"Oh" I said "I have a no homework policy"

Matt looked incredulous. He laughed nervously. "You're joking"

"Matt," I said, having a little fun with him. "This is America. We can do whatever we want. Freedom. I have a No Homework Policy and it's great.

I shut my locker with unusual emphasis and headed to lacrosse practice, unencumbered.

I wasn't against rules per se; I just liked to look at the big picture. Staying up until 4am wasn't realistic. Something had to give.

Standing Up Against the Status Quo - 1960 & 70s examples
I have drawn a lot of inspiration from looking at ideas from the past in particular Jane Jacobs work, the Great Depression and the early online communities like The Well.

In Kate Hefner's book she highlights that people involved with the commune experiments of the 1970s were returning to the world f work. Here's the founders of The Well discussing what there were looking to do with their experiment

"Capitalism wants each of us to live in our own little cubicle, consuming as much as possible... Let's see what happens if we become a disembodied tribe" Sound in any way #BeMorePirate?

What's the alternative? This?

"Why work with a group of people who don't even like each other? Many seem to think it's a sacrifice necessary for making money... Free agents check in and out on a transnational basis, is worse than cold.
If you can't count durable relationships among the fruits of your time at work, you haven't invested your time well" Peter Theil Zero to One

I want to count the kind of relationships as detailed by James Netwon in "Uncommon Friends" and the sense of belonging that Tom Mandel found at The Well as the fruits of my time at work.

At the end of the day I want to be able to sit round the table with a group of friends and as we reminice, be able to say "We did all right. We made a difference..." and, of course, laugh at all the epic fails, near misses, rookie mistakes... and the doughball-dumb-nugget-plain-and-simple-school-boy-errors

Be More Pirate  Q)3 - If you could break any rule, what would it be? And how would you remake it?
The issues from Waiting for Superman and make these experiences like this = Kipp Bay Area

"We promise we will do everything we can to get your baby to college"

Be More Pirate  Q)4 - Who Out There Would you Most Like to Take Down?
I wonder if this is the right wording to the question.

I hope that people with a 1st-4th Edition find this to be a collectors edition... much like

"The Revenge of the Jedi"
"Return of the Jedi"

I wonder if this should be changed to

"What social condition would you most like to change"

"Who out there" may well be appropriate for dictators and despots in really corrupt countries, but in the 1st World West when there is so much uncertainty the "Tech Enthusiasts," "Early Adopters," "Change Agents" might want to have empathy with the late majority and laggards.

In his 2011 Commencement speech Chris Sacca's step 1 is also to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete and advocates for happiness, just like Pirate Sam does.

He also advises that we "Be Helpful," and then highlights the potential cost of ignoring this advice for anyone who'd rather opt to chase money at all cost. He provides the cautionary tale via the "stench" that follows of the people who caused the current economic problems and how it follows them around as colleagues avoid them and with members of their family... Hope the money was worth it!

They may not be suffering financially, or even as much as those who their decisions affected... but they are paying a price.

When my boss made people redundant because of his actions and leadership, was it an easy decision to make? Nope. Would he have agonised and suffered over making it? Possibly, I certainly hope so.

In addition to this, Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell highlights in "Finding the Next Steve Jobs" how difficult it is to change the culture after the first 12 people are hired... after that point others will fall into the social norms of the organisation.

IMHO The "rule breaking" and "making new rules" could be considered more like the "Tough Love" we need to give our kids from time to time when they break house rules.

"It's bad medicine... but I guess the patient needed it" Steve Jobs re: getting fired from his own company.

Tribal Leadership Stage 5 organisations like Amgen

"Our competitor is preventable disease... we're gonna kick cancers butt, and we'll work with anyone and everyone to achieve that"

Find the outliers and change agents in the org that you're not happy with and let others in the org join in at their own pace... as and when the results come in and when they are ready to party.

To get this started, give the reformers some free space to discuss their ideas (See A Different Operating Procedure)

Be More Pirate  Q)4.0 - What Principles, Values or Ideas are you Willing to Fight for?
Like this post... One of the quickest posts to write was the one below, it took me about 30 mins to dash off:

Others have asked me to help with this and the same exercise has taken them weeks. Three things that helped me with this included: 

i) Knowing how the political classes operate allowed me to assess what obstacles/scenarios to consider
ii) Knowing what I wanted to achieve... Knowing the end before I started (More on that in the next post)
iii) Avoiding Stede Bonnett syndrome. I work hard on my personal development and know the example I want to set for my own kids.

Be More Pirate  Q)5 - Who is the Scariest, Most Difficult, Controversial or Provocative Audience for your Story?
First, I read in 2013 that This will be the #1 Business Skill of the Next Few Years and have worked hard on this. 

The story below is a real highlight of my career and, in part, for the reasons that Sam highlights during his #RSAPirate presentation... is because projects overlapped and 4 people's stories were told on this mission (And it was a joy for my son to be included with his literary hero). Also because it was awesome fun too!!

Why I wasn't at School Today

I also agree with the Blackbeard example (And Sam's Waterstones & Penguin example) of finding ways to build legends, build myths, build a legacy... so people know you live by your code and values.

For various reasons, I may be wrapping up my 'work' in edu and am trying to salvage some value from my 'career' and am currently trying to pass things onto others, in the hope they'll pick up on it.

Since early Feb I've engaged in a scary group. What's made it scary? 

1) There are quite a few people. 
2) It's a group of people who are in senior positions and/or I admire and respect 
3) The ideas and topics (And stress levels) have changed... The email thread has been an evolving conversation and manifesto jam.

Another group I've engaged with the political classes... always a joy! 
I'll be writing to that other group that will be scary when this post (And part two Be More Pirate - The Pirate Code) is published: Colleagues I've learnt from...people in the field of Community Management who I admire and respect.

As a newbie #Cmgr who has not had much paid work, it's scary to put ideas out there and ask

"Do these ideas have value?" 

Will I embarrass myself by showing how much I have not listened and/or misinterpreted their advice? I have no idea! But in my head it looks like this

Be More Pirate + Community Roundtable State of Community + New Power + Ideas from the people who gave me permission to use in my EdTech report + EdTech50 = a potential case study for the Godfather of Rebellion (If the argument stands up to any manifesto jamming).

Whether this turns out to be the case or not, we'll find out in a blog post and email or twos time ;)

In the mean time, for those who have handed in their notice to @BeMorePirate... I hope at least some of the links and experiences in this post help.

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