Marevelous minionship





  • loyal servant of another, usually a more powerful being or cause.
  • The position of a minion or favourite; the state or condition of being a minion. 

Minionship in the workplace

At work I use the term minions with affection, extensively. When we’re talking about minions describing people at work, what I’d mean is the interconnectedness of our group goals and how our organizations function (or dysfunction). When you are a minion you recognize that everyone around you, below you, above you, next to you is also a minion.

We are all minions in service of some kind of goal or purpose whether it is our own or supporting someone else’s. Minions don’t work alone, they unite to achieve the goals of the group, or on occasion, an illustrious leader. This illustrious leader must then be able to ensure the minions are happy.  For we all know, happy minions lead to better minionship which achieves all of our goals more easily, we’d hope. 😉

Lately, my minionship has been focused on learning to be a minion manager minion in the very traditional sense of the term in business. By nature, I am not a manager. By desire or passion, I am not a manager. I am pursuing the skills of a manager out of the need to serve my larger purpose. In service I need to learn the skills to empathise with managers and learn the way a team is formed and a culture can be built for impact. This is how I serve the larger cause of transforming and innovating upon the empathy systems in organisations. In order to serve this cause doing today’s managing is an important part of growing my minionship abilities in service of injecting empathy into strategic level decision making.

So in pursuit of that cause, I manage a minion crew. Pobrecitos. The poor minions.

To be true we’re lucky, our minion crew is super chill and fun. Just as we are forming our minion team, we go further and push the team’s culture in a new direction. We handily participate in many minion team experiments. For example, our WIP (work in progress) stand-up meeting, we’ve prototyped it a few different ways now. We’ve had the Explorer’s standup, where we take our WIP report outside and take a photo. We’ve had the mindfulness stand-up where we report everything online instead and just take 5 minutes for mindfulness meditation as a group. That one was probably interesting to watch from the outside, we might look like a cult praying to their illustrious leader. We did a buddy stand-up last week where you and your buddy role play being each other’s scribe while we report our WIP.

Most of this experimentation is possible because of the more ‘working out loud’ style we’ve adopted. A rowdy bunch of minions to be sure. This is supported by using more collaborative platforms and tools  to keep all of our amazing minionship work visible. Show your work minions! No one can see our service unless we show our work and tell the story of what it takes to execute on a wonderful piece of quality crafted minionship.

One common phrase I tend to throw out very often is that we live in a world where it is “minions all the way down, and minions all the way up.” We are all someone’s minion even if you go to the very top of anything there is someone who has an accountability to someone or something.  We’re in a civilization based on service and leadership is a service to those you lead, so lead well dear minions.

Once I was being interviewed for a women in leadership competition and I started waffling on about how the leader is a servant and how we’re all minions. The judges smiled politely and nodded but the whites of their eyes were showing. I think I freaked them out a bit. I was intense and passionate and likely spoke with precocious authority way beyond my years. Me, intense, never, pah!

Perhaps next time I’ll say what I really mean… our world is full of minionship. Be the best minion you can be! Find your passion and be its minion!

Leaders as servants.

Minions all the way down. Minions all the way up.

Minionship for the win!

Have a lovely day. Be the best minion you can be!

Experiments = Experience + Insight

elephant therapy

We who work in innovation, transformation, change, and all the capital letter functions trying to make the world a better place for you and for me,

It has been a weird journey to understand the cultures around the greater market of ‘I’nnovation. Capital ‘I’ Fancy stuff, that is. Whole world is full of us, it is. You’re probably familiar with how innovation works in your own world already, you are. Likely this post will bore you, it will.

Anyways here goes my attempt at sense making based on all the social media conversations, articles, and interactions I have been able to participate in in my short time in innovation spaces:

Who isn’t innovating these days?

Who isn’t venturing or starting up?

Who isn’t trying to sprint, lean, agile, iterate, synergise, partner and ally?

Who isn’t platformifying?

We’re inundated with these words that we’re using so much they are quickly going to be meaningless for us all. (If they aren’t already in our ‘cliche’ box).

The question for all of us is: Who is experimenting?

It is from experimentation that the seeds of innovation grow. It is the brave  and lucky who we hold up as innovation heroes. Those who were courageous enough to increase their risk radar to experiment and then kept at it long enough and got lucky to produce value. Those folks are our innovation heroes. There is your Tesla, your Musk, your Edison. They had a process and for some of them it was called the scientific method, a rigorous framework for experimentation.

How can we innovate without experimentation? Can we call it an innovation if someone happens upon a perfectly tailored and commercialisable solution by coincidence the first time? First of all it is doubtful that will happen. Research and development departments, university research labs, most of science, and some of design have all put forward their own specific ways of experimenting. We’ve been experimenting forever in kitchens, in cobbler’s shops, in the fields, over hills, and in the dales. Yet somewhere along the way some folk out there have flogged the experimentation out of the innovation. Too constrained in their risk approach to even approach a true experiment. Always wanting to know the R.O.I. (return on investment) before the first line of the story has been written. We get stuck in a loop of business cases to run experiments to build better business cases. (p.s. nothing against business cases, they are super useful). How will we ever run fast enough and iterate enough in order to innovate enough to save ourselves, our species, our planet?

Here comes agile to the rescue, and its good friends lean start-up, 5 day sprint, special intraperneurship, design thinking, idea battles, concept development carousels, and a whole host of ways to speed up and discount the costs and risks of innovation. So if we make it small enough and palatable enough the experiment will gather support and the snowball will begin its momentous roll uphill or downhill. In this world no matter where you sit it is a matter of storytelling and some charisma to get your experiments off the ground. Sounds pretty full of bias that decision making process does, better build a  solid ROI and business case for your experiment, you might. The little business suit wearing calculator in your head might now be thinking, “Gee don’t know how you plan to run a profitable business while throwing all that cash at your so called ‘experiments’.”  Well that’s the deal kids! Most experimental and innovative places don’t turn a profit…for a really long time! Start-up business models have only in very recent history provided us with the stories of instantaneous IPO payout glory.

It is not an experiment if you know the outcome.

If you know the outcome you can call it all sorts of things but not an experiment.

How do we in the face of so much activity in the name of ‘I’nnovation sort the wheat from the chaf? How can we define a real experiment? More importantly how can we bulldoze the space to run true experiments and not just evaluative confirmatory studies?

Teach your bulldozers what they need to know to be the best possible bulldozers they can be. Your bosses, their bosses, their bosses, and onward all need to be empowered with a clear narrative of what you want to learn from your experiment. Learning is valuable, and people pay for learning and information. All we need to do as experimenters is be able to tell the value story of the knowledge we are pursuing. What do we want to know? and why will this experiment help us know more than we did before? How can that knowledge help us make better decisions and help us allocate what we’ve got now better in the pursuit of what we want tomorrow?

Abstract hack of an experimental process

Completed prior to the experiment

1.Title of experiment: Make it meaningful and descriptive

2.Purpose: What do we want to know when we’ve done this – 1 or 2 lines to describe the objective of the experiment, or your focal question (Customer, client, & stakeholder ecosystem & needs)

3.Materials: list of all the inputs required

4.Procedure: the steps and plan that will be enacted to run the experiment, including the exact data collection plan (& dates if you can include them)

Completed during and after the experiment is run

5.Data collection: observations, data points, &  readings from instruments

6.Data analysis: method and findings of analysed data

7.Discussion of learnings: synthesis and meaning making out of analysed data

8.Design recommendations for next experiment: ideation, preparations, & planning of next experiment

Then once you’ve conducted the experiment,


If you don’t share your learnings what are we fighting for?


Do you have any better experimental frameworks you can share with me?

Let us go forth and know not what our outcomes might be but focus instead on each step of our journey.



Design, Ethnography, and Global Governance?

I found a great article today at 3quarksdaily titled At the Intersections of Design, Ethnography and Global Governance By Aditya Dev Sood. I highly recommend reading the whole extensive article.

Here is my favorite excerpt:

Both Design and Ethnography require one to look at the world in a visionary way: to see with one’s mind’s eye the subtle and hidden relationships that are not always visible on the surfaces, but discerned in the interaction of people and things. To see the way things are, however, is not precisely the same as to be able to see how they could be. I often think of the ideal dynamic between ethnographers and designers as akin to the heat cycle of the internal combustion engine. For the process to work right, we have to be able to move from people to product and back again, but as of now, we mostly train people to become virtuosos of material-cultural production with an amateur or folk knowledge of culture and social behavior. Or conversely, we train specialists in observing culture, who are painstakingly shy of actually producing new cultural artifacts in the world. To extend the metaphor of the heat cycle, this means that the sum of Design and Anthropology can be plotted as a line that courses back and forth without creating an area, a polygon, corresponding to new value. In the professional sphere, of course, designers and ethnographers do work together to create such value, but they must first learn one another’s languages and ways of working.