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Thrivability: Breaking Through to a World that Works

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Steve on synchronicity

If you want to catalyze innovation in your organization:
low hanging fruit or good first steps

marked differences
How to avoid group think
How to avoid the idea bully

Really innovative places--breaking through boundaries--departments, when you are given bonus points for working with people from other departments. What chance do people have to bump into other people working in different departments.

kinds of time
No interruptions because deep thinking that is interrupted will, in all probablity will not be returned to...practices in existing orgs... 4 hour chunk of no phone calls etc. Bell Labs and Pixar. (not for sales people, but anyone in creative and deep thinking positions) It takes like 20 minutes to get back into something when you are interrupted...And sense of flow disrupted is really hard to get back to.
Conversation time that needs to not be interrupted--offices with doors and Do NOt disturb (mail and phone shut off) for two or more people to hold that space together. Honoring the connection and ability to go deep.
How codified information--and how it can be codified differently...
once it is written...people generating ideas are very comfortable with a subject area but are dealing with info that is not codified... "outside the realm of wikis" it really hasn't gelled yet...and that needs to be recognized as still being played with... period when things are new and you are really trying to stay away from known information... there are people who work more in the realm of non-codified information--they need to be identified in an organization and linked up with the appropriate other folks...and given tools. They are often steam-rolled or lost in group-think.

People who can flesh things out on their feet--and so they are viewed as smart...too frequently they are viewed as great, but actually the ideas are not....leads to group think... so allowing people to think through their stuff and come up with it individually and then once documented share it so good ideas are not lost to the strongest voice or the sales talk.

Bell labs--Friday afternoon sessions...
generating ideas...others attack or support/good or bad, and others who would synthesize and repeat back what they heard. small group of 5-6 who worked well together...idea generators, poke holes, and synthesis person was the same person and hosted these --his role was central. (Disney strategy--works when you don't know each other well) with people who know each other for years can do it all at the same time. chalkboard and chalk...tools at hand... Keep track of the ideas generated. A sense of flow in collective is established. Most of the ideas were bad, but that was important. That wasn't a negative...the guy with the best ideas generated tons and tons of bad ideas... You can't often tell at first.

Cell phone--future pacing-what happens when this is ubiquitous? And that kicked off a whole series of cool things.

When you have deep trust and know each other--you can criticize on the fly without stifling. The role of synthesizer has to be there for all of it, but then not saying anything until the end...then say "I am not sure I understand this...let me see if I can put into words..." The company recognized it--held the space for it: all day Friday--morning for prep and afternoon into evening for this space...

Great fun---for the creators.

How else to avoid group think?
seen orgs where people are asked to think about something in relation to a problem... experts in the space that COULD say something immediately...but time given. People write down--email themselves or capture...then at next meeting share each as it was. Allowed people who were quieter to express their ideas.

Identify people who are always jumping up to speak--and ask them to stop--that doesn't tend to help much (clerking it).

Interesting to build a wiki where certain areas would not be public until all people had said their thing. Or could copy and paste into public area once everyone has their thing.

Synthesizer is so important for finding the gold in all the things and weaving them together. Different solutions can be optimized for different takes... which question are you solving for and from what perspective? It really helps if the thought processes behind the solution is visible to the synthesizer.... sometimes the questions posed or the problem posted is the right question...and group think can encourage you to solve the wrong problem. (Jean draw graphic for this) Seeing the multiple perspectives and finding the facet that reframes the problem in a useful way....

Great if the synthesizer is a cheerleader....

However that can backfire. Synthesis is so strong that his version of the story can be taken to be the story....

individual playing roles and then the collective energy playing through roles together too... so any role being too strong can shift the collective mind too.

The thought background...you need enough people to see it and draw back...

there is data that goes into knowedge and then wisdom...there is only information says Steve...

Watch out for the use of veto power within orgs for shutting down the opportunity...

Architecture of creative space: BELIEVE IN SERENDIPITY. encourage people to randomly bump into each other...the physical space arrangement...
open space to explore and share--one on one interactions outside of the group... building arrangement, easy access to the tools.
no penalty for making a mistake... rather than abandoning an idea, people would frequently start off from a piece of the bad idea...go back into the core idea...the etch a sketch shake as indication to start again.

Photoshop wasn't an interesting tool until you could do multiple backtracking. So you are not penalized for trying crazy things... all you loose is some time not the kernals at the heart of it.

Element of play is so important. As you are just developing ideas--you are literally playing with them. They are not as serious....

People have different aspects of their lives--the creative part doesn't occupy a significant part of time...for most people that role is going to change around.... maybe dangerous if role given to a sngle person...

Pixar is re-disney-fying Disney. great ideas can come from anyone--so you have to listen to someone...hear them out. Giving a talk there --and Colleen was there... what are the expectations and practices...

Extremely careful about how they hire...
Bell didn't like lone wolves...no matter how brilliant.... (creativity happens in collaboration)
Looking for people that worked in undefined fields--working in areas that were a synthesis of multiple fields...need to have core building block skills....but what they really were interested in is people who would put together interesting combinations.... Steve with bat sonar working with biologists--completely doing something different from what hired for.

Pixar university--internal training up of people across different specialties... become more familiar with what the company does...and sometimes magic happens--lighting person turns out to be good story-teller. How do you encourage people to be cross disciplinary.

And if they move within groups...how do you move them?

Constant learning is considered central to the job. People spend maybe 3-4 hours a week on continuing education at all levels of the org. At Bell it wasn't at all levels...only member of technical staff did it--not management. Researcher or technologist. Management and support staff were not included in that...

Act your shoe size--how do get the sense of play. And a sense of fair play so everyone gets time to bat. Something very basic about that which is crucial to the process.  Without that the attention goes to whoever can demand the attention-be they creator, editor, or synthesizer....  What are the tools that work best?

small orgs (may not be true in large orgs)... serendipity space--some way for external stuff flowing through the orgs--improbability drive.... Steve's job at Pixar. Injecting something that they may not have thought about. (this might actually be a valuable track for the guild to do).

Who is charged with thinking beyond the here and now within 100 person org. The core employees who really understand the business--is there any way to capture that directionality from the bottom rather than the top?

And how do you inject creativity into orgs in a way that is financiable. small pieces packaged together by subscription that can provoke thought.


Thrivability: A Collaborative Sketch

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