Happy birthday TWOG!

2 September 2015

Today this TWOG is 1! Not #1—it’s millions of followers short of that. Just one wonderful year old, posted every single week since September 2, 2014. Whew!! Here is how I introduced the first one, from @mintzberg141 to mintzberg.org/blog:

Today I’m 75; this is no time to tweet. So welcome to my TWOG—Tweet2Blog. Rousing reflections in a page or 2 beyond pithy pronouncements in a sentence or 2.

To link out in this world of 140 characters, you’re supposed to tweet. I can do that 2. The problem is that, as we tweet, the world totters. True, some tweets are inspiring—for a second or 2. Then it’s on to the next inspiration or 2.

We need to face back—to reflect in, even without friends—and that can begin with the 141st character. Of course a book or 2 is better than a page or 2, even if it takes a week or 2. That’s how we really get it. I write books so that I can really get it 2. But here I’ll have to settle for a TWOG instead of a BLOOK (although I may bug you to browse a book or 2, if not all 18).

I love doing this TWOG while I hate doing this TWOG. I hate the obligation (admittedly self-imposed) of having to do it week after week. Even though many draw on my earlier work, all usually take hours on each of several days of the week that I post. Too much else has been getting pushed aside. But mostly I love the opportunity to revisit my earlier thoughts, bring forward new ones, and combine them. It’s been exhilarating, a whole new and wonderful thing. And me, who used to be a technopeasant.

For years I had several ambitions: to do more commentaries (op-ed pieces); to expose to a wider audience many of my ideas that were buried in some obscure book or article; and to get some of my short stories and other interests out. This TWOG has given me the opportunity to do all that: to recap, recoup, refresh, and reconfigure. Especially refresh: I delight in finding better ways to express the ideas of a lifetime, and pursue their wider implications. My TWOG is working out far better than I had hoped. I feel that I am at the top of my game.1

You might think that after a year, I should be running out of ideas. Quite the contrary: I continue to generate more ideas in most weeks than I use up (by posting one and throwing others away). I’m just getting started! But to keep going, I had better slow down. So, I hope to do this a little less frequently, maybe every second week or so (Ideas in the works include: “Networks are not Communities”; “Social Economy and Social Enterprise: avoid the confusion because ownership matters”; "Silos and Slabs in Organizations”; "Never set out to be the best: it’s too low a standard.”)In the weeks in between, I will repeat some of the earlier and best received TWOGS that most of you have probably not seen.

A word about twitter, those pithy pronouncements in a sentence or 2 (not to mention that page or 2—this week’s TWOG, like many others, runs to 4 pages). I’m still concerned about those 140 characters, but I have become a great admirer of twitter. It’s the egalitarian nature of the thing (compared with, say, LinkedIn). No snobbishness, less self-promotion than might be expected. Anyone can follow, and I look at every profile of who does. I see an 18 year old just getting started and then up pops a columnist from some big newspaper. I’m thrilled by both. And I get a great kick out of the photos—the variety is terrific, and more so the messages conveyed by these images, whether intended or inadvertent. And all this coming from Thailand and Toronto, Montreal and Mombasa. We too are the world.

But it is a deeply troubled world, and I wish we could figure out how to use these kinds of media to turn that around. Not just to complain, coax, or convince, but to provoke action. If the “good folks” of the world don’t get together, there may not be much left of the good world.

I am indebted to many people, behind the scenes and on the screen. Tatiana Saliba, Estelle Metayer, and Eric Smith helped get this started, and now Simon Hudson leads the backroom effort. Dulcie Naimer, my partner, has been remarkable in pinpointing what works, and doesn’t, or shouldn’t. John Breitner has been a steady hand, encouraging me forward and correcting my backwardness. On the screen, I am propelled by the responses of so many of you, including a number who have been here repeatedly for quite some time. Massimiano Telleni, Dirk Boersma, and Yvonne Telting come immediately to mind, also MJ Aherne.

To all 6642 today, a great big THANK YOU!!   In Quebec, in French at least, we don’t sing “Happy Birthday” (what awful lyrics).  We sing from the chorus of a song by Gilles Vigeneault:

Mon cher TWOG

C'est a ton tour

De te laisser parler d'amour.

My dear TWOG

It is your turn

To let you speak of love.

© Henry Mintzberg 2015

A few years ago, I heard about a couple of comments made by people in a major management publication: that I was all washed up. Just like Mark Twain, I hope. (Twain’s comment is popularly reported as: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”)