Today has a been a day of strange coincidence.
For one reason or another I spent a large portion of last night discussing the differences between introverts and extraverts (myself being an introvert). I won’t go into huge detail but suffice to say it is a topic that has been on the mind.
So this morning I take my seat at my desk in the usual way and commence my ritual trawl of Twitter and Google Reader looking for interesting twitbits (see what I did there!) to facilitate my procrastination from doing any real work. It is a familiar and regular pattern. One blog I have been finding particular enjoyment from of late is Fast Co.Design, a design and innovation blog that is essentially everything I want this blog to be but a million times better (I guess that’s what you get when you have proper curators of content being generated by invited bloggers who are top names in their field, ahem). I must confess to it being possibly the single biggest generator of tweet content from myself of late.
Anyway, I digress, this morning while mining it for inspiration I found this article from Daniel Sobol about the corporate penchant for generating ideas from brainstorming sessions. The main thrust of the article being that brainstorming might not be the ideal way of going about extracting ideas from a team as there will be introverted members of the team who do not engage well in this process for fear of setting themselves up to social rejection. The article then goes on to put forward an alternative technique known as ‘deliberative discourse’, or argue, discuss, argue, discuss. It is an interesting premise, and an article I recommend giving a read.
However it was not so much Sobol’s suggestions that interested me, more the inspiration for it being the recognition that aspects of modern, especially corporate, life are set up in a way that undervalues introverts.
This notion has come to the fore due to the recent publication of the book ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain and it is the topic of her book that inspired Mr Sobol’s post and is catalysing a range of thinking around the subject currently. Susan Cain is hot property right now following her highly celebrated talk to promote the book and it’s theory at this month’s Ted Lectures (you can see her talk above).
In short her book deals with how society dramatically undervalues introverts and how it loses out in doing so. It highlights the extravert favouring dominant values of business culture, how forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. All fascinating stuff which I vowed to delve further into.
So as is often the case when I stumble across something I find interesting I decided to share it, both publicly on Twitter and Linked In etc. and also across my company’s internal social network Yammer.
For those who don’t know Yammer is like Facebook for business basically. It’s a closed network, with a user interface so close to that of Facebook it’s lawsuit worthy and at SustainAbility we use it for sharing knowledge, gathering opinion and engaging in general banter. It really is a great idea and I would advise any company that wanted to foster an environment of collaborative thought and information exchange to try it.
But anyway again I’m going off track… The important factor is how this led to the next coincidence… my colleague Heather replied to my post saying that she had tickets to a talk at promoting the launch of Quiet by Susan Cain at the RSA, today and would I like to go! Hell yes!
So there I find myself within 12 hours of my previous nights debate on the nature of extraverts and introverts and their relationships in the modern world, trotting off to watch a talk by the world’s current thought leader on the subject.
Well suffice to say I was captivated. Miss Cain really has hit upon one of those mystical things that once you are alerted too seems so obvious yet were completely oblivious to until this point. I was most impressed by how even handed and well researched her ideas are. Far from being a piece simply bigging up introverts her points are admirably well handled taking into account all angles and the affects the current social settings have on all personality types. The talk and surrounding discussions were both insightful and challenging and I must say I left feeling a renewed sense of energy and optimism with my approach to work and my wider social life.
So there it is, my short little story of the introvert and his coincidence. Sometimes things are meant to be and today it feels like this introvert was meant to be in the right place at the right time.
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And buy a copy of Quiet here.
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27 March 2012, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Business, Innovation, Random, Sustainability and tagged Brainstorming, Coincidence, Daniel Sobol, Extraverts, Fast Co.Design, Innovation, Introverts, Susan Cain
29th February 2012
York Hall, London
First published in Clash Music Online on 2nd March 2012
It’s not often a music concert is held in a sports centre, but that is precisely what is happening tonight as the York Hall in Bethnal Green, a venue primarily known for staging boxing, plays host to 21st century Jazz darlings Portico Quartet. As two classic East End bouncers steer the throngs of hipsters towards the music hall one is struck by the juxtaposition of cultures and surroundings.
Strangely it all seems very fitting for a band whose career to date has not exactly followed the usual course of things. Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize with their 2008 debut ‘Knee Deep in the North Sea’, the flicker of mainstream exposure that followed has long since departed. Tonight, however, the expectant atmosphere amongst the mobile screen lit audience signifies a band whose star is on the rise.
The curiousness continues as the band enters to restrained applause and spends the first minute onstage arranging themselves to the hushed chatter of the crowd. Everything is done in a manner more akin to a concert orchestra than the now predictable convention of the ‘striding-on-confidently-to-intro-music-and-bombing-straight-into-the-opener’ routine of most acts.
And then the music starts and it all becomes clear. Looped arpeggios are laced over soothing bowed and plucked double bass lines, which in turn are complemented by a gentle sax drawl. The Hang (the band’s signature instrument) generates soft resonating overtones, which complete a tranquil yet brooding sound. One is immediately struck with how deliberate and considered everything is and the result is something rather glorious.
The jazz with a small ‘j’ has been replaced with a clicky ambience more often associated with the programmed forays of digital artists
Playing the majority of their eponymously titled and fetal new album tonight, it is soon obvious that we are witnessing the birth of a new sound resulting from a journey towards an altogether more sonic destination than previous. The jazz with a small ‘j’ has been replaced with a clicky ambience more often associated with the digitally programmed forays of artists such as DJ Shadow, Burial, Gold Panda and even early 00s era Radiohead. On its own this is nothing new… but it is in the construction and live realisation that one appreciates just what these four East London musicians are actually doing and why this part of the capital is taking such notice.
Drummer Duncan Bellamy delicately fingertaps a drum pad crafting a range of digitally synthesised sounds, which he seamlessly integrates with acoustic skins and cymbals. Every accent and harmony of his performance is captured and expressed and the result is emotive and quite simply awe-inspiring.
The crowd is mesmerised in thoughtful comprehension with only the faint nodding heads exposing the deep personal connection being felt by each individual
It is noteworthy though that this is not a live experience for those who prefer to move and groove. The finger tapped electronic percussion and subtle feedback and distortion created by the acoustics of the classical instruments produces an earthy hue that is more agitation than excitation. The crowd is mesmerised in thoughtful comprehension with only the faint nodding heads exposing the deep personal connection being felt by each individual. This is reflective music and definitively food for the mind rather than the body.
The set draws to a close with the introduction of supporting vocalist ‘Cornelia’ for the only choral track of the night ‘Steepless’. As she softly declares “love is all around, you won’t find the answers underground” the appreciative audience gives recognition for what they have witnessed and in that one lyric the experience of the evening is revealed to the full.
Portico Quartet is a band striding out from the underground on their terms, and the admiration awaiting them is there for all to see.
Photography courtesy of Will Bunce
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The Regeneration Project a joint initiative from GlobeScan and SustainAbility, launched yesterday on Guardian Sustainable Business(GSB) with the first of the Ray Anderson Memorial Interviews, a weekly series of videos featuring the most notable sustainable development pioneers from the past few decades. Building on these pioneer insights, the project will assess progress on sustainable development to date and help chart a course to a more sustainable future.
The Regeneration Project, over the course of the year, will bring together a wide range of leaders and influencers to determine how best to bring new energy and focus to the agenda
2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit and the 25th anniversary of the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, which together elevated the concept of sustainable development on the global policy agenda. The Regeneration Project over the course of the year will bring together a wide range of leaders and influencers to determine how best to bring new energy and focus to the agenda.
This is a project which is particularly close to my heart as I branded and designed the website and have been closely involved with the project right through it’s early development phase. I am hugely looking forward to continuing work on this valuable project that I’m sure will greatly add to the sustainable development debate over the course of the following months.
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