“Unscrew the system – In a blissful way”
My TEDx Talk. Scripted.
When I was a little girl
In first grade, I was told I drew circles the wrong way
The teacher put me in the corner where I had to draw circles until I was able to draw them as it was supposed to be done: the other way around.
I just did not get it
At the end all circles look the same
So what’s the point?
Today, I want to tell you a story about acting different.
About all the amazing things that would happen if we could act different.
And how I screwed up.
When I got older, a similar thing – like the circles – happened to me at work.
There was often one way to go.
“This is how you should do it. Don’t ask. Just get your job done.”
When I put this ‘one way to go’ in a circle, it would look something like this.
This is how many ‘traditional’ organizations still act nowadays.
It’s (for example) about control, rules and management by numbers, often with a focus on short term profit maximisation. Everything aimed at certainty, reliability and predictability.
A lot of this stuff just freaked me out.
Why are we acting this this way?
You have to know that I am a rebel by nature.
I was raised not to be confection,
so it’s in my nature not to go with the ordinary flow.
That explains something,
but besides, it wasn’t’ only about my own frustration.
Lots of people around me seemed to feel the same.
And I had a bigger drive.
This kind of thinking is aimed at maintaining the status quo, not breaking through.
And for sure this doesn’t make people happy.
So, I wanted to fight the system.
I screamed around that it all sucks
And that we need to unscrew it all
Owh. I felt like a lonely ranger.
It felt like nobody was noticing
And nobody was with me
Time passed by
And then, one day
I met Rik Maes
He was a Professor at the University of Amsterdam
Wow. Finally somebody who seemed to be on the same page.
And he knows stuff. You know, he’s a professor ;-)
He’s the one I need
So, I hooked up with him
And I started studying the fundamentals of our ‘conventional’ ‘western’ way of thinking.
And I started to play with science, to find solutions.
My thought was: what would happen if we draw the circle the other way around?
I reversed it all. The outcome looked something like this.
It’s about creating value for people. Value that goes beyond money. It’s about creative thinking, innovation and designing from empathy. It’s about a more holistic view
And dealing with uncertainty and unpredictability.
At that time, signs of a new movement already were heading exactly this way.
The need for transformation in this direction seemed to be there.
So, I was all into that.
And I started screaming louder
“We’re doing it all wrong!
This is how you should do it!”
And with that I fell into my own trap…
Let me share three thing with you where I screwed up.
First. I had created my own tiny little world of truth.
I had ended up like my teacher in first grade: there is only one way to go…this is how you should do it
This is what happens to all of us.
We look from our own single perspective and see what we want to see, what we expect to see and what we are used to seeing.
The danger of this one-sided way of thinking is that’s it’s about truth, being right, win or lose, and that can lead to arrogance and ignoring different opinions.
Second…even worse…It wasn’t true.
We need BOTH. And as human beings, we ARE both.
We treat it like these are two separated worlds.
This maybe feels this way because we got stuck into our own circle (like I m stuck into this red circle, right now)
We got stuck into our own circle, our comfort zone, our habits and routines.
And we don’t see the water in which we are swimming.
But we need both
And we are both already.
We just aren’t using the full potential of who we are.
The third. Another big screw up.
I thought I knew it all.
I did not.
Maybe now I knew something about the water, but I had not learned to swim.
Acting different is like swimming.
You cannot learn it by reading about it, or hearing it or screaming it out loud.
You cannot learn to act different, if you don’t act different.
It’s not enough to know.
You can see things and know things
But you have to do it, to become it.
I only knew stuff.
I had not acted different myself.
So, I started all over again.
I had to act different myself first, before I could design something valuable that could help others.
To make a long story short: I did.
Rik Maes introduced me to design thinking
And I went through almost four more years of research.
Fully committed to ‘practise what you preach’, I applied all aspects and learned to act different myself.
And after all these years, we finally could design something valuable (what is now called Plan B) that guides people to act different.
The thing is, when you draw a circle on a piece of paper one way or another, the result will be more or less the same. With issues of problem solving or innovation, it doesn’t work this way.
When you act the other way around, the outcome will definitely not be the same.
In fact: it will be totally different.
The magic is in the process, in the way you act.
The need for transformation is greater now than ever before.
No matter where we look, we see problems that –in my opinion -only can be solved by acting different.
It’s my drive to make change happen and I will continue to put all my effort into the growth of this movement.
Not only in business, but also in education.
Because that’s where it all starts.
I strongly believe we can unscrew our system.
We are all in this together
It is not like we are trapped into the system, which does all kinds of stuff to us.
It’s not happening outside of us.
We ARE the system.
You are always part of the situation and the problem yourself.
As a great commercial once said: You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.
Together we ARE the system
So we CAN change it. By acting different.
I really hope
You open up your circle
(just step outside…even if it’s not allowed)
And free yourself from your own conventional thinking
If it’s not to change the world, do it for yourself.
To be awesome in life.
Because imagine what would happen if you could act different.
You will be able to solve the wicked problems of this time
You will be able to innovate, make change happen
And the connection to yourself, to your own purpose
will – for sure – give you a meaningful and blissful journey.
All you have to do is
You can learn to act different, if you act different.
And we need that.
Please, don’t let it pass you by
You can watch this TED talk here.