That was the first line in my notebook from the MIX Mashup event I attended in San Francisco a month ago.

We’re not angry enough.

The notebook has been sitting in my bag for a month. I never did a formal recap post. I did write a piece about freedom and responsibility that was a result of the conference. So yesterday I got it out and started reading my notes again. I was really blown away. I was going to try to summarize them, but I decided against it. Here they are, pretty much in their entirety. If anything is written in [brackets] then it is actually something I was thinking, as opposed to either a quote or paraphrase from the speakers, who I identify wherever possible.

Terri Kelly, W.L. Gore and Associates:

  • To make it work you need discipline.
  • It’s all interconnected.
  • All commitment is voluntary
  • Tensions in the system–don’t shield associates from that.
  • Lead through influence.
  • Yes it takes longer to make a decision, but we find they are better and people are behind it.
  • Compensation set by peer ranking. Ranking based on who’s making the greatest contribution to the success of the enterprise.
  • I’m only successful if I’m a team player.
  • [Metaphor for knowing how far you can go when experimenting:] Water line. If you’re going to punch holes in the ship, do it above the water line.

Paul Green, MorningStar

  • We have pre-loaded understandings of the world. Dangerous for management.
  • The organization is not real. It’s an abstraction. All that’s real are people.
  • You don’t do things for the organization. You do things for other people.
  • Can’t give someone total responsibility without giving them total freedom.
  • The key is to involve people who are impacted or who have expertise.
  • [what we do better than anything is set people up for failure in organizations. We don’t give them what they need to know and we don’t let them behave in the way that sets their potential free, that cuts them loose.]

Jack Hughes, TopCoder, and James DeJulio, Tongal

  • It’s management’s job to innovate itself. The world needs it.
  • Replace hierarchy with something
  • Sophisticated incentive systems
  • Fun is really important
  • More and more the productive capacity is going to be realized through networks.

Bjarte Bogses, StatOil, and Scott Keller, McKinsey

  • Tradeoffs on tensions are not made at the center. It’s at the periphery.
  • Big becomes slow.
  • “Why?” is a question we should ask much more often.
  • Four to five mindset changes can drive thousands of behavior changes.
  • Make it simple for the periphery even if it’s more complicated for headquarters.
  • Leverage discontent into hopeful action.

Tsukasa Makino, Tokia Marine and Nichido Fire Insurance Company

  • Look to your periphery for front runners and protect them from criticism, control, and disturbances.
  • [We are imprisoned by management for so many years. We are deluded into thinking we have to ask permission for things we should be absolutely free to do.]
  • Shift: nudging people, not “leading.”
  • We are not leading people. We are helping people.

Kim Spinder, Open Government Spaces

  • Better way to manage performance is to let people tell their stories.

Bob Sutton, Stanford, and David Kelly, IDEO

  • Building creative confidence
  • Series of small successes
  • Do to think
  • Planning and strategy…we just don’t need much of that.
  • Taking action more valuable than over planning
  • We tell the students that good is beautiful and clean, yet life is always a mess. Embrace the mess.
  • Put up with ambiguity.
  • Innovation is done in a place where people work face to face.
  • Organizational creative confidence.
  • They have to surprise themselves with success.
  • We just need to remove the small blocks to creativity.
  • When you see a good story, you start using it. Don’t care where you heard it.

Vineet Nayar, HCL

  • CEOs fail to write off the depreciation of their own intellectual capital.
  • Innovate the “how,” not the “what.”
  • Value zone: interface between employees and customers.
  • Support employees in the value zone to create more value.
  • If you don’t know you’re a slave, why would you want freedom?

Innovation all the time panel

  • You can’t create an innovative culture. You can create an environment in which an innovative culture can grow.
  • Genius isn’t hidden. It’s afraid of your processes.

The Edge To Edge Organization Panel

  • Design rules: default to open, transparent, invite feedback


  • You don’t create engaged employees. People are engaged by default. They just aren’t engaged with what you are putting in front of them.

That’s all I have.  I will admit that my notes tapered off towards the end. My brain just started filling up. Though I did tweet out some ideas at the end. But as I review all this content, I am still amazed at it all. Bookmark this post. Come back to it. PLEASE write some blog posts of your own based on some of these bullets. This is really good stuff and I want it to inspire us as we go forward.

In short: get angry. Get dissatisfied with the status quo. Stop bowing your head when people in authority tell you that there is no viable option other than what we’ve been doing for the last fifty years. The examples are out there of different ways of doing it that are radically successful (W.L. Gore and Associates has NEVER posted a loss). Let’s get just angry enough to start changing things sooner rather than later.

image credit

Jamie Notter