Companies of the future: No CEO, no boss, managed by blockchain

Great article by Jeremy Epstein on VentureBeat that resonates with how I think. It’s about a Decentralized Autonomous Organization and it has no CEO, CFO, or VPs.

The article touched me in the same way “Permission Marketing” from Seth Godin touched me back in 1999. So it’s something that doesn’t happen often.

It comes at a time where I’m trying to explain to people what the fundamental difference is when it comes to running a cooperative organisation like Herculean compared to a traditional organisation. The article describes exactly what I mean, so I hope many people will read it before they decide to work with us.

It comes at a time where I got in conversation with the founders of Duval Union, another amazing cooperative entity. They shared a great article with us about Network Governance. The article states that Networked Organisations are great to use for “Wicked Problems“. They are great to drive innovation. They are fast and rely on trust.

These things come at a time where we are building teams of licence-holders all over the world. A time where we need to define our “way of working” to hundreds of people from partners to crew to suppliers.

I actually believe that our governance structure is what makes us so special. Of course we are great in organising Hercules Trophy, Academies en Projects. Of course we have amazing technology to drive our growth. But I believe the most important part is our DNA. It’s the people who work together and create amazing experiences without a strict hierarchical model to govern them. It’s a DNA, a set of values that defines whether you are a Herculean or not. Because of that DNA, the non-Herculeans eventually leave the organisation and new Herculeans join. Just to be very clear: it’s not because you don’t have our DNA, that you are a “bad” person! We are just not the right company for you.

You can read the complete article here. Underneath are some interesting extracts:

In fact, there’s no hierarchy at all. Of course, any time you bring people together in a group, there are bound to be politics, but it won’t be the “command and control” structure that most of us are used to.

What a DAO is

A DAO is a combination of computer code, a blockchain, smart contracts, and people. (Well, people, for now, at least, but that’s a topic for a different post.)

The founders of a DAO set up the basic governance rules of how it will work. For one example, see how Fermat explains it here.

The DAO has stakeholders who own tokens that represent a share in the performance of the DAO. Essentially, what those stakeholders want is an increase in the value of their tokens as reflected by increased demand.

The bottom line is that, in a DAO, instead of being hired as an employee, you are awarded a contract on a project basis. The Fermat project, for example, calls these ‘Contribution Contracts.”  Then, after discussion among the community members, the proposal is voted upon and, when passed, work can commence.

So, the incentive for everyone who contributes to a DAO is

  1. Get your stuff done
  2. Get it done with high quality
  3. Treat people with respect

After all, if you don’t do these things, your livelihood is threatened.

FINLAND: Basic Income experiment authorized by Parliament

Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, announced on December 14 that the Finnish Parliament has passed the act authorizing an experiment of basic income. The experiment is set to begin on January 1, 2017.

For a few years, my heart tells me the Universal Basic Income is the only way forward. It’s the same feeling I had, when we started the Herculean cooperation as a more sustainable way of doing business. The capitalists in this world warned me that it was better to started a “limited corporation” to “keep the power” (which has proven to be complete rubbish).

What fuels that feeling?

  • Taxes (hidden or not) raise at ridiculous rates for the middle class, which makes it virtually impossible for these people to start a venture around their idea. Instead they all have to do jobs they don’t like, with two people, killing their personal lifes.
  • Burn-out rates are exploding. I still meet people who think it’s a “fad”. It’s not. By the way: we see a lot of burn-outs in Financial Institutions. The values of the employees don’t match the values of the Financial Institutions anymore.
  • Individualism and polarisation keeps rising. I think we can all agree they are not a good thing. People become jealous, hate it when somebody is succesfull…
  • Digital disprution improves our way of life, but reduces the number of available jobs. I believe we need even more disruption to gain our quality of life back.
  • The number of people on the planet is exploding and huge economical migrations are ungoing in our backyard.

When it comes to the Universal Basic Income, you hear the same capitalists yell about the risks:

  • People will become lazy: I don’t believe a basic income will lead to more lazyness, on the contrary. Every Human Resource Manager will tell you that money is not a motivator. It’s purpuse that motivates them. People will do things they are good at, without having to worry about making money. It will unleash a lot of talent which isn’t unleashed today. The people who want to be entrepreneur will pay a lot less taxes to support the current system, and will thus create more job opportunities.
  • It will kill innovation: on the contrary. People will use their full potential to experiment without being scared of losing money.
  • Companies won’t find people who want to work: the number of jobs is decreasing, so the number of people who want to work will increase. On top of that, companies will be able to invest more in the best people – because of less taxes. Working will become a lot more fun.
  • It’s unaffordable: many expert studies show the opposite. The RSA has calculated it would only require 1% extra GDP. I also believe that people will spend more, as they are sure they will have money every month and don’t have to save for “dark times”.

I believe the rewards are better than the risks. Think about it.

 

Start-up culture is corrupting our youth and killing real entrepreneurship

I came accross this article by Lukas Mikelionis on The Telegraph and I couldn’t agree more. For the record: it’s a “black-or-white” titles because they make us think and adjust where needed.

Imagine the sort of person that runs a start-up. How would you describe them? Probably using words such as “young”, “ambitious”, “innovative”. They probably embody that meaningless expression “nothing is impossible”. This is the problem with start-up culture: it has created a myth that has the power to ruin lives.

I know it might sound as a negative story, but it’s not. Believe me, I coach me kids to follow their dreams and coach them about “learning by doing”, but I also coach them about wisdom of the “old people” and “respect” and “savoir vivre” and “hard work”.

“Unfortunately this notion that it only takes a “killer idea” (preferably something based on an app) and just enough funding to conquer the innovation-hungry consumers is a lie. It goes against traditional business-making practice, where companies respond to the demands of consumers rather than the other way around. True, we all heard stories of successful innovators who indeed delivered revolutionary products to the consumers, but it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt that every millennial has the same trick up their sleeve.”

I probably sound very old school now, but I believe I’m where I am because I always surrounded myself with people who are older and wiser and took the time to absorb their experience and do better. Not because I found capital for my crazy dream. Finding capital is just a tiny part of realising that dream and it’s not too difficult either. So yes, I listen a lot to the opinions of grandma, mum, dad and experienced business people to make our platform bullet-proof.

Don’t get me wrong: I also listen a lot to the rookies in our team, or when I teach at Real Madrid Sports MBA or when I was a coach for the Founders Institute. I love their energy and disruptive thinking. I give them lots of opportunities but in the end I have to make sure that Herculean.coop becomes a global success and that won’t be achieved overnight.

“Even when true innovation happens, there’s increasing tendency not to attempt to create a business with a long-lasting plan, but instead chuck it towards larger corporations in exchange for a handful of cash. Business cards stating “serial entrepreneur” – those who move from project to project – are becoming a norm. The idea of nurturing a company is in terminal decline. In the past, making sure that the company is thriving and has a competitive edge used to be the defining aspect of good entrepreneurship. Nowadays, by contrast, selling your company for a life-changing sum of money is the mark of success. This breeds a new type of entrepreneurship, which centres on the short-term boom, and turns the creation of start-ups into an industry itself. Start-up culture shifted the focus away from company ownership to either “get rich by selling” or participating in never ending game of start-up creation.”

I get that question often: When will you sell? When will you exit? My answer is always the same: we are building a sustainable cooperative platform, a system, powered by Herculean people and we are trying to structure it with all the lessons learned in our many years of corporate experience, keeping into account the disruptive future ahead of us. It’s like raising a kid, and with 3 kids I know a thing or two about raising them and letting go 🙂 When the time has come to let go, I will, but let’s enjoy every step of the journey!

“When they go low, we go high”

My Third lady (Inge Van Belle is my First and my mum Second :-)) gave an epic speech about values and beliefs. I couldn’t agree more and thought it was more than appropriate to store it as “one of those moments”.

The more perceived “success” you have, the more people will “go low” on you. Don’t fall into the trap and just ignore the hateful. Go high instead! Stay true to your values and beliefs. Lead your Herculean life, don’t sit back, make a difference and never ever quit.

2016: Freedom it is!

Every year, we discuss our NY resolutions and pick a word that describes the whole theme.

2015 was all about “ambition”. Looking back at our initial plan and the experiences we had, the word was spot on. The song that influenced us the most was The Nights from Avicii.

For 2016, Inge came up with “Freedom” as it sums up all of our plans. I wanted to share Pharrell’s performance on the roof of the Tonight Show because that describes very accurately. However, it was nowhere to be found. The official version will do just fine. Have a Herculean one and let your firstname be Free lastname be Dom!

Speed as a habit

People who work with me on a daily basis know one of my firm believes: “the need for speed“. I can become quite “passionate” when things don’t go faster than I expected or when people don’t understand they can do things a lot faster than they think. Every day I make it my mission to speed up the way things go in my daily tasks, but also within our team.

I know…it can feel like a lot of pressure, but if I don’t give you pressure, I probably don’t believe you can grow any further, so stop complaining and deal with it. You would be surprised about the speed you can reach.

Here’s a very nice article that illustrates why speed is a great weapon in business.