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You are here: Home > Diritto di Voto / EU, Italy, Turin > Planning a business, planning a society - #sharing #knowledge #infrastructure and #innovation #swarming #NextGenerationEU

Viewed 4508 times | Published on 2022-06-05 12:40:00



As you can see, almost another month passed and we are still more or less technically at war.

A war that, at least in the region, everybody would like to stop, while many from outside the region seem to have another agenda, i.e. the war as a geopolitical tool to structurally reshuffle the area.

Before moving on the subject of this article, I would like to add the usual counterintuitive approach, within the first section.

Few sections:
_a modest proposal for the EU based on its strengths
_are we really thinking strategically about sanctions?
_piano industriale vs. politica industriale
_under the hood: not just continuous learning
_swarming and integrating a coalition of the willing

A modest proposal for the EU based on its strengths

First, I believe that, as I wrote in previous articles about other proposals (e.g. see the Let's be serious about European Union integration and its future #NextGenerationEU), post-Brexit the European Union should take the chance to move forward.

But not following the usual Monnet approach, that since the 1950s sidelined in many cases debate.

In the XXI century, the only way to have, in a data-centric economy with a high degree of infrastructure integration, a significant advantage is by building consensus through multiple sources.

Or: you cannot simply apply a "backroom dealing" and "top-down" guideline- you need to take few more risks.

As, in the end, extracting value will imply having many potential sources of value-generation involved.

Second, this imply having some shared motivation: and cannot be something as boring and as much "joy for the lawyers' eye" as recent and not-so-recent documents (yes, I am referring also to the proposed European Constitution).

I know, I know- many would immediately start with grandiose schemes to dispense money using an army of number cruncher and consultants: despite having been in consulting since the 1980s, across various domains, industries, "technicalities".

Personally, I think that instead we should start thinking in terms of opening opportunities.

What has the European Union?
_a structure that is spread across all the Member States (and sometimes also beyond)
_few decades of experience in harmonizing both collection and dissemination of information, within a framework of "subsidiarity" (also if sometimes the "command&control" attitude takes the lead)
_a human network represented by all those who worked both within the institutions and on projects
_a continuously expanding integration of the above.

So, if you want, the European Union is overall a "competence center".

Notably in Italy, we have way too many organizations and companies that are focused on "helping to spend" the funds allocated at the European level: in the past, when I supported Italian start-ups and also had contacts with some specialized on EU funding, how often I was told not "we want do do this and that, is there something", but "what can we do that would get funding".

Up to meeting in Brussels tiny companies that simply positioned themselves to be the "Italian side" on projects, for those that required at least n Member States represented.

Now, instead of adding more funding lines for those that often seem to be focused on doing something tailored to attract those funds (notably in Italy, as I wrote above), I would like more the approach that I saw over a decade ago in Brussels, at the time called e-practice.eu, or the more recent example of a portal where you can register trees that you are planting, to be part of the collective tree-planting target.

The idea is simple: I met many around Europe who had ideas or even started projects, also in past events ranging from industry events (e.g. Infosecurity in UK and Belgium, Marketing and Dematerialization in France, Cloud in Germany), to events organized by various organizations (e.g. Philips+IET in The Netherlands, or IEEE in UK, Italy, Benelux, or PMI in BeNeLux).

How many private sector organization are really good at knowledge management, communication, knowledge dissemination and thesaurisation, along the "glocal" paradigm, i.e. a shared framework but local integration?

Not that many, in my experience since the 1980s: the "top-down" paradigm in definining that "framework" is still way too often tailored toward convergence on something defined centrally, not an integration of different subcultures.

So, this might be an opportunity to let those who have ideas or projects (and can self-fund) to actually benefit from the European integration- by receiving access to what many such smaller entities would not have the resources to fund, and access to expertise.

Investment from the EU? Probably, to create (self) training facilities, and scale up part of its digital infrastructure- a kind of "digital highway" to enable the flow of ideas and projects.

Then, it would be up to those involved in each project to see their own evolution.

But there is a preliminary step: as discussed in previous articles, our friends during the Cold War are scaling down their presence but trying to retain control.

Are we really thinking strategically about sanctions?

If you follow my stream on either Linkedin or Facebook, you know that I consider the war in Ukraine an invasion- nothing more, nothing less.

Not as the one in Georgia, that is sometimes used as a blueprint of reference, but where the point was the other way around.

Also if, frankly, both Georgia back then and Ukraine right now seem to be considering membership of NATO as a way to invoke the NATO protection pre-emptively.

I shared repeatedly online and with friends that I am quite skeptical about the use of the financial sanctions to force a default of Russia.

USA can choose what it wants- and, frankly, is sitting on a pile of debt denominated in USD that is held by e.g. China and also Japan.

So, there are limits to what they do: the USD, for now, is there to stay, and also economic competitors cannot dump dollars so fast (albeit China, with its Belt&Road, is focusing those resources on strategic projection- I wrote about that while living in Brussels, in 2008-2009).

As for us within the European Union...

... well, we were trying to expand the reach of the Euro, and it is quite quixotic to show that we go as our American friends the bully way.

Forcing the hand to have Russia default on its USD-denominated lines is something, due to the distribution of USD-denominated trade and financial instruments, but forcing a default of Russia on using Eurobonds by making impossible to pay is something else.

It is an autodafé that serves only to show that Euro-based financial institutions cannot be trusted to act neutrally.

So, opening the door for more USD, less EUR as reserve, and, why not, more RMB use for countries interested or involved into the new Silk Road.

Personally, it is not just because in the past I had projects in the banking industry in German Switzerland.

Also in other European countries where I had projects within the banking industry since 1987 I always saw, from either the "backoffice number crunching" (general ledger first, then risk-related) or the "management number crunching" (management reporting, Decision Support Systems, Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing, etc)...

... the financial system is based on trust.

Wars and social conflicts come and go, and, actually, the banking industry in Italy was there and structured more than 500 years ago.

If you start making impossible to consider the system reliable, you generate systemic risks: what is worth the EUR, if those holding it, or using it to finance, know that the European Union can simply bring their economies down by making impossible to honor obligations?

Few days ago heard that Benin in 2019 had a 500mln EUR Eurobond, recently added a 1bln EUR one that used also the repay the previous one while extending the life: what if there were a trade quarrel or other issue with a weak country? Would the European Union force it into default, to spike commercial pressure?

I think that Brussels should think strategically, not looking over an horizon of few weeks or months.

I remember the cartoons from Germany when the current President of the Commission was Minister of Defense in Germany (have a look at some or here), most related to budget cuts.

When I was living in UK and there was another war starting, I remember local newspapers stating that our friends across the Atlantic called the British forces "the borrowers", for similar reasons.

Now, with short termism at the helm, we seem to be replicating those approaches- but at a systemic level.

Having independent central banks supposedly is also to give them a long-term, systemic perspective, and insulate the economy as much as possible from electoral cycle influences that could undermine stability.

But, again, I will use the example of my own country (Italy) to discuss the difference.

Piano industriale vs. politica industriale

I elected to write the title in Italian as there is a curious cultural element.

In Italian, "business plan" is often called "piano industriale" (the focus is on the manufacturing side, as Italy is a transformation economy, with limited natural resources, albeit the green transformation also in energy production might change that).

And the national industrial policy is called "politica industriale".

Actually, Italy is constantly helding conferences, workshops, releasing papers, etc- all focused on developing an industrial policy.

Since decades.

Probably, one of the reasons why one of my latest articles that was still bilingual (English-Italian) is the second-most read article Per una politica industriale che veda oltre le prossime elezioni #industry40 #GDPR #cybersecurity / For an industrial policy that survives election cycles #industry40 #GDPR #cybersecurity

The preparation of the Italian side of the #NextGenerationEU / Recovery and Resilience Facility answer, the "National Plan" for recovery and resilience (in Italian: Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza, PNRR) involved also listening to what society had to propose.

I shared a couple of datasets containing all those presentations, within my Kaggle profile and GitHub.

Specifically, a summary and details.

As I wrote in previous articles, frankly I found little "systemic", and too much "self-serving".

The datasets that you can find online are actually based on frequency analysis, but during the summer, as now the PNRR is being implemented, I will use another bit of the skills I developed in 2020-2021 during the lockdown periods, to see something more.

Anyway: way too many of the contributions from civil society in Italy were what in school would have been called "not on subject", e.g. when at my final exam we were asked to write about nuclear energy, and quite a few went to write about nuclear weapons.

What is the difference between "systemic" and "self-serving"?

Well... the title of this section is a good summary:
_many contributions seemed lifted from the business plan of those involved (i.e. how to expand their "business", be it for profit or not for profit)
_few were talking on the "systemic" level, i.e. talking about a proposed industrial policy for the country, and what contribution they could see.

And, in my view, in Europe we still are struggling, whenever there is a crisis, to think systemically.

We have too many experts, too few listeners- so, they do what experts do.

In a crisis, they take refuge in their own field of expertise, and project that as the overall universal truth.

I wrote above about the positive potential of the "knowledge infrastructure": yes, but the flip side of the coin is that, since the 1950s, increasingly the European Union bureaucracy became too self-referential.

In the early 2000s, while looking to design a service for local authorities, heard a common issue that was visible to any external reader of documents from Brussels who was trying to understand how the intended audience would have read those documents.

Experts had created them, and collated their expertise into a coherent whole- but the level of expertise required to understand and implement was not available in most local authorities, who therefore took the information at face value.

Whenever you put a team of expert together, usually the convergence of their expertise is more nuanced that a simple binary yes/no.

If those reading the result of such a convergence have access to a similar level of expertise, can "unravel" the Gordian knot created by the experts, to understand beyond the face value what could be strenghts, weaknesses, and degrees of freedom.

If we want to design an industrial policy worth of the XXI century, the risk, in recycling the "standard approach" is that experts will talk with experts in talking with those experts, and will be over-represented vs. those that would actually generate most of the value (smaller companies, start-ups, etc).

Yes, because any bureaucracy large and structured enough, for the sake of optimization of resources, de facto generates a counterpart bureaucracy, if communication is to be ensured and continuous.

And, as any bureaucracy, under the aim to "optimize", expels "outliers": not really a "listening" approach.

The European Union, along with the digital and green transformations "embedded" within the #NextGenerationEU and associated measures (I consider such also the next budget for the Commission), is now adding other measures (that anyway will absorbe resources from existing allocations)- few hundred billion EUR more.

Getting back to the "framework" discussed in the first section: if, this time, the communication framework were to be more "inclusive" (a trendy concept that often means just "giving some marginal resources and plenty of PR"), it should add a "continuous" element.

Or: bureaucrats and "sitting committee experts" are able to work the process, but an adaptive industrial policy would require a continuous two-way communication, i.e. converting those involved into its initial definition into "antennas" that provide a continuous feed-back on trends, evolutions, etc.

The concept is, in the end, the same of subsidiarity: have those who have "feet on the ground" (or on the shopfloor) identify and report potential divergencies that could be corrected- long before those experts would even converge on a single explanation.

Yes, as you can expect- I am proposing a "swarming" approach to monitoring and evolving whatever industrial policy the European Union (jointly with its Member States) will adopt.

Under the hood: not just continuous learning

A small personal digression- skip to the next section, if you want- but I will share few "pointers".

I worked in multinational environments since mid-1980s, albeit actually was doing also political activities in a multinational and multilingual environment since I was 17, touching base in France and Belgium, onsite.

In late 1980s all that, plus my family background in communication (as what is theatre and radio and TV if not communication) and business (a small manufacturing business), came to fruition, as was working with senior managers (sometimes more than twice my age or even three times, as I was in my early 20s) to help use technology to either support or convey to others ("leverage") their decision-making "patterns" (I would not call it "algorithms", as patterns and their blending was more appropriate).

I shared in the past how, to "fill the knowledge gap" (basically, just the lingo- I would not pretend that reading few books would give you the savoir faire of decades of experience), and be able to have a rough understanding of the lingo- as, when you are really young and looking younger, no matter what fame precedes you (sometimes it felt as a performance, with colleagues announcing to other colleagues when I was "going for the kill" with a string of apparently innocent questions), few seconds and you are either out, or simply the counterpart shift to "rationalization mode" (explaining to the ignorant trying to make it simple), in both cases failing on the task.

You have to enable "flow" on those who you are supporting, to paraphrase what others wrote, so that they stop rationalizing, and convey what they realy do- including blind alleys, leaps of faith, etc.

But if in my 20s I was used to continuously learn (e.g. often was each day in a different customer in a different domain or even different industry), I did not stop later on, when in 1990 I opened by first "consulting shop" by chance (as a "gap filler" while searching for a role, that arrived few months later with a significant career and salary bump). And also in 1993, when I had again to open one, as my customer needed somebody two weeks down the road, after I at the last minute (literally: was in front of HR, but the CFO/COO changed the agreement with a "take it or leave it") refused to sign as financial controller at another larger company (but stayed on as part-time consultant to the CFO/COO for five years more, until I first relocated abroad), needed somebody for a role that would be a manager under the banking contract, but, having no university degree, a long negotiation could be foreseen with trades unions (yes, because in the 1990s in banking trades unions had quite a say).

In the 1990s, when I first relocated abroad in 1997 (the reason I described elsewhere), I was used to attend training, workshops, industry events in various countries- basically, 25% of my consulting income (it was a significant rate) and time went to either continuous learning to connect-the-dots across industries and domains I still worked on, or to subsidize others to do projects that I designed, coordinated, owned, coaching them on what they needed to do (e.g. when I had my first online e-zine on change BusinessFitnessMagazine.com, I paid a former colleague who I had previously coaching on direct marketing to develop my business unit on methodologies, training, and associated change services: she was much better than me at cold calling and then follow my "storytelling", a multi-threaded, multi-path script based on what I expected to be the reaction considering the audience- in a short while, 800+ people were signed up from 500+ companies around Europe in my "target industry / parameters", for few hundred EUR cost- an overall acquisition cost of less than 2EUR per manager, plus my time).

Going around Europe was quite expensive- but paid back because, as you can see on my CV, I was called up for missions in few countries and industries: which was my main purpose (I gave myself a minimal salary, everything else went into the activity).

But if you are cross-industry as I am, you have to accept a different concept of continuous learning.

Many complain about what in the 1990s I called "Infoglut"- information gluttony (was not alone, but I was thinking about Pantagruel, and we were back then just at the beginning of the use of the WorldWideWeb): but it is because they have a static view of continuous learning.

You have to integrate with the environment, identifies your target areas, identify were you need to keep ahead of the curve, and also accept that you will need to routinely "prune".

My approach is typical polymath: whenever I approach a subject, my target is to be in the top 20% or so, and select few areas where I feel I need to be even better.

Many before talking about a subject, read a book- and then become Facebook experts.

Even just on COVID-19, despite having studied for other reasons decades ago about risk and various models, I did not just read a book, or followed a course or a webinar- got some certifications, studied a few, continued to monitor, and right now shifted to use that background information not to be a "latter day epidemiologist", but to consider impacts and long-term impacts on the business and social side.

The upside: it is useful to sort out the charlatans even between those that are, by title, experts, but got into a megalomaniac streak- in Italy, we had some frankly puzzling moments where epidemiologists were basically shouting at each other to be considered "the" epidemiologist to ask opinions about COVID-19.

Since the 2010s, it became relatively easy to access online material that then you could complement with activities if and when needed- kind of "self-induction training" (followed then by the usual long hours of trial-and-error-and-application to something that you could focus on, a project).

I do not believe that much into the "capstone project" approach, i.e. following a string of courses, and then being terraformed into doing a project where, as a good trained monkey, you will repeat the patterns learned.

It might earn you a certification but, unless you then have something real to do, and often also the proper interaction with those more experienced, it gets you a "painting-by-number" level of quality, also if many sell themselves as experts after getting a certification or two.

Personally, as I was lucky enough to work with experts in specific domains even when doing my first baby steps into structured politics and economic analysis (yes, the "science of scarcity"- not everybody is a central banker who can extend the balance sheet at will), I saw quite early the difference from bookish knowledge and the "flow" that derives from deep (direct or indirect) experience.

As I wrote years ago, having had two branches of activities (cultural/organizational change and business number crunching, both of course supported by project management, analysis, negotiation, etc), one more focused on "hard skills" and the other on "soft skills" (albeit often a blend of the two helped also in the most technical or most "fluid" activities), helped to keep a systemic perspective.

But you have to keep seizing each opportunity to constantly revise, update, expand, and, yes, prune.

My interest is to keep using and updating my skills and knowledge on cultural/organizational change, digital transformation and its impacts (which, in my view, includes sustainability: otherwise, what is the point of digital transformation?), and, of course, UN SDGs / ESGs / #NextGenerationEU, blended with the use of technologies to support those activities (expanding on my past in AI, Decision Support Systems, and various business-oriented number crunching).

Just to share (it is not braggadocio) what I did over the last few months in terms of "non-techné reading" (i.e. not for structured, business- or technology-specific) readings (to show that, also with a busy schedule, you can use e.g. travel time to do something to avoid a tunnel vision):
20211111_Roman republics.pdf
20220216_Narrative Economics How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events
20220226_The Cold War A New History
20220317_Article 36
20220429_The New Political Capitalism How Businesses and Societies Can Thrive in a Deeply Politicized World
20220430_Il governo dei giudici
20220501_La democrazia dei signori
20220501_La salute del mondo. Società, natura, pandemie
20220510_Mission Economy
20220522_Scimmie
20220526_The Power of the Charlatan
20220531_Grande guerra, piccoli generali. Una cronaca feroce della Prima guerra mondiale

Plus re-reading a certain number of books about history of wars, organizations, decisions, political institutions.

But beside reading, just to limit to the last week or so, it is not so difficult to find webinars and workshops (increasingly free) that deliver entry points to subjects that, if you were to explore them by yourself, would take forever:
20220530 The Future of NATO
20220531 Cybersicurezza Europa: siamo pronti a difenderci?
20220531 (in German) about alternative performance measures for financial controlling post-COVID (i.e. the risk of creative accounting)
20220531 NASEM dialogue on The Future of Work
20220602 Collegio Carlo Alberto on Globalization
20220602 OECD on the launch of the 2022 Sustainable Development Report
20220603 Innovation Days Trentino Alto Adige
20220605 On talent retention for innovation, on long-term monetary geopolitical impacts, on future of cities and sustainability, on the world after the crisis in Ukraine

Obviously, I am not sharing the more "technical" items- i.e. focused on Machine Learning (my main update during the COVID-19 lockdown), IFRS and non-financial measures, IoT, quantum computing.

On the latter, I had decades ago some reading on quantum concepts, but this week decided to accept an invitation to follow a string of courses on quantum computing (9, to be precise), for a couple of reasons: it is a structured curriculum, there are resources now available online (I registered with the IBM service, where I was already registered for other reasons), and... it is in German.

Now, it is funny that, if previously knew of quantum-related concepts in English but not in Italian, now I can say Quantenverschränkung in German... but I still do not know how to say it in Italian, as my main learning language since the late 1980s is English, while now I am adding gradually German.

Incidentally, to close the personal digression, somebody would say: well, you are born in Turin, now you are back in Turin since 2012, and you are interested in Machine Learning and Quantum Computing, while Quantum Computing actually did benefit in the 1990s from dialogues held in Turin at Villa Gualino- why do you want to return abroad?

I never lived that much in Turin, and all my "jumping forward" in activities, roles, and, of course, remuneration happened outside Turin- as the locals appeal to my "being born in Turin" only after they spread budget and seats among themselves, and want somebody to work to support them for free or below market rates.

But that is marginal, in my choice- I routinely worked for free when it made sense, and my website purpose is to keep sharing what could be useful, but locally would never be allowed to directly "sell", only as an invisible to support somebody else's visibility despite the latter lack of skills or attitude (but anybody with a couple of decades of support to be a "one-trick pony" can eventually be acknowledged as an "expert").

In reality, in 2018 and 2019 saw in depth something that, with my banking and business-number-crunching for senior management, does not ring as and endorsement.

I had to follow an inheritance spread across multiple people and multiple locations in Italy, plus had opened my own company to support an opportunity where, having three languages and a mix of experiences in Italy and abroad, was confirmed as the only candidate.

Well, I knew that Turin is "gossipville", but e.g. when I worked in banking in Switzerland I remember that for a project on portfolio KPIs in Private Banking, where I was asked by my partner if I would like to be both the project manager and analyst/developer of a model due to the confidentiality of information, I had to sign a form that stated that, by law, if I were to disclose personal information about any customer I would get 18 months in jail and 100k CHF in fines the first time, and twice the second time etc.

In Turin, I had commentary on details of the back-and-forth-and-documents-disappearing within the inheritance, when I went to ask for a credit line it took just the time to return home to be shouted from the other side of the building the amount I had asked, and other amenities.

Plus, in that opportunity above as in another one (both not in Turin), eventually was told that there had been a stop from above on my name- immediately followed by contacts to stay in Turin.

So, I doubt that anybody willing to create something new but yet confidential would like to do it in Turin.

Anyway, the flip side of the coin is that, if you want to create "buzz" about something, the leaky element of Turin socio-economic environment is useful- that this would attract a share of charlatans e.g. injecting their own funding as if it were from "investors", to have the rumors go around and attract then real funding (yes, a Ponzi scheme) is just a collateral damage.

But, until the locals do a massive brainwashing, Turin still retains the company town mentality where anything goes provided that it supports the leading team- also now that the leading team has the brains elsewhere: not really a place where anybody would think appropriate to set up R&D or a private banking center.

Imagine if you were a private banking customer (well, I was told once the threshold to be considered locally a "private banking customer": laughably low- if they did not change it, it is akin to squeezing more commission from a retail customer or small business, by using vanity and calling them "private banking customer), where to buy a plate from an antique shop using your credit card, and suddenly everybody from the porter to the bartender were to share the information.

Or, business-wise, imagine if you were along with your consultant to identify specific lines you are interested in, start discussing about it and, while you have not yet completed the business plan, the logic were to leak in a way that those leaking assume does not hurt but, having no understanding of your business, would instead provide savvy competitors enough information.

But in Italy information shows that you are connected, and the (real life) tribal social networking implies sharing.

Therefore, a gossipville unfortunately blends with the Italian culture to create a quixotic environment.

While I enjoy sometime discussing in cafés on purpose to exploit the buzz-generation (funny when the locals stop talking to listen to you), routinely said to others never to talk shop in any public place in Turin.

So, I think that it is better, at least for myself (as I do not belong to any local tribe, and I am resolutely bipartisan) to stay clear from the locals and their village mentality: the Macondo on the Po river is not attractive, and I am not interested in creating buzz.

But, having said that, it is quite an enjoyable town, if you accept that they still have to migrate from factory workers or peasants to tourism: e.g. I saw in a square a restaurant with tables set outside.

Anywhere else, you would have been advised that the staff would be happy to show you a table.

In Turin, the sign stated that you had to wait in line until a member of the staff would allocate to you a table.

A restaurant behaving as a post office- with customers treated as packets on an assembly line.

This personal digression actually was to connect the previous section with the next one: as, again, highlights the need to think long-term and to continuously re-assess.

Swarming and integrating a coalition of the willing

This will be a really short section- as most of the elements that contextualize the title have been shared in the previous sections in this article- including the apparently long detour of "under the hood".

In Italy, whenever I read about demands from our companies about skills that they would like to find on the market, way too often go back to what I already shared few years ago within a minibook that you can read online for free (Book10. Just another book on innovation (in Italy) (vol. 4 of "Connecting the Dots") ISBN 9781723163937 2018-07-15).

If you read the article so far, you probably would not be surprised with the concept that I think that we need more depth, and a sustaining environment composed of ecosystems that are actually looking toward evolving their own internal coherence, distribution of roles, reassessing continuously.

But this continuous reassessing/rethinking should not happen in the typical, tribal "tunnel vision" that tries to retain control within the tribe.

It requires a different approach, based on adaptability as the key skill and attitude.

If your ecosystem is e.g. structured around a specific "industrial district" (say, thinking about Italy, gold transformation), a tunnel vision approach would be to simply look at how gold is used elsewhere, or other "industrial districts" where gold (or silver, or other precious metals) is used.

Instead, it could make sense to have at least some of your members to be "antennas" in completely different domains (i.e. ecosystems), and potentially therefore creating a continuous contamination- discovering e.g. that your tribal expertise in processing gold can be useful to districts (and this obvious) focused on electronics.

The point is: there cannot be a single exchange point, if you want to "swarm ahead"- you need to constantly adopt what initially my customers in the early 1990s in Italy found difficult: adopting a "matrix" organizational approach to blend experts without having them phase-out their own expertise as soon as they were embedded in a different structure where all the others did not have their expertise.

In our complex world, it is to be expected a further acceleration of innovation that requires, to have access to it, a continuous contamination across domains, contamination that does not imply losing focus.

You can have a focus, bring in contaminations, and also have temp co-swarming with other ecosystems, but you still need to consider (and re-consider) what you stand for.

If you do not have a focus, you are just joining the crowd, not swarming: and I am quite skeptical about the potential value of mobbing as an enabler for innovation.

Those who read my articles since I was first publishing under my own name, in 2008 while living in Brussels, probably remember few articles built around the concept of "distorting space with your mass" and "attractors".

This morning was discussed at a workshop the The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2021, stating clearly that Italy is way behind on "global" skills: 35th (see here on Linkedin).

Main reason discussed? The small size of Italian companies.

Frankly, I think that this is just part of the picture: in reality, there is something more- a cultural element that has to be changed.

In smaller, almost "tribal" companies, which represent quite well the traditional social structure of Italy, exogenous elements are often considered akin to merchants in the Middle Age: "space oddities".

If you accept new ideas only from those that are within your circle, chances are that either you are getting just incremental innovation, or a rehashing of something that was done elsewhere- digested, processed, presented to you... when are already "yesterday's news" elsewhere.

This is what often seems to be the attitude in my country- presenting as innovative something only because suddenly somebody reads a book that summarizes that concept outlining... what has been done for decades elsewhere.

We need less "visibility seeking" and more "knowledge contamination agents": accepting that, obviously, they will share back something that will be still evolving, and potentially entering a blind alley.

The alternative? Working just on consensus-building on the latest fad, and selling as "swarming" what in reality is just "mobbing".

It will be take a long journey, but obviously such a journey, as many, has to start with the first step.

As I wrote few years ago Qianli zhi xing, shi yu zuxia / a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Have a nice Sunday afternoon!