Culture Shock

Hey, long time no see! I’ve been traveling around Papua New Guinea with poor Internet and a broken laptop so haven’t been able to blog. I’m writing this on my phone.


Will McInnes, my old business partner at NixonMcInnes has had his book Culture Shock published. I finally managed to get the kindle version downloaded to my phone so I could read it. The book is fantastic and covers many of the issues that we discuss on this blog, so check it out.

Here’s the review I left on Amazon. 5 stars:

In 2002 I was fortunate enough to meet Will and we founded NixonMcInnes together. Full disclosure: I’ve left the business but am still a shareholder, however Culture Shock is 100% Will’s.

Will has been a truly inspiring figure who introduced me to ideas that shaped not only our business and my career but also my entire worldview. Big stuff!

He wrote this book from a rare and valuable position of having founded and run a very different type of company AND taught and helped some of the world’s most high profile organisations to be different and better too. He’s no ordinary pundit. His experience is deep, and real. This shines through in the book.

In Culture Shock you can see Will’s simmering and often humourous displeasure for business-as-usual but he doesn’t waste time going into too much detail about what’s gone wrong and why. And although the book cites solid studies and other sources that back up the case for a new approach to business, Culture Shock is from the heart and from experience. It’s not an empirical or academic work and as such it’s not the book to convince the cynical or anyone who has been on another planet and missed the failure of 20th century business (even Alan Greenspan the market fundamentalist said there’s ‘a flaw’… no kidding!).

Instead, Culture Shock is for revolutionaries who know that business can and must be better and want to take action and build incredible organisations, right now. They can also use it to inspire others who have the instinct that things can be better and want to know how.

The book’s scope is impressive, covering both internal and external practices, technology, and the new leadership traits needed to drive these changes. The book is meaty with big ideas, examples and practical advice yet manages to be mercifully concise (revolutionaries are busy!) so you can read it in a few hours. Where readers want to get more detail there are suggestions for further reading.

Will and I had Ricardo Semler’s ‘Maverick’ as our bible on our journey. That book is a wonderful case study but we had no field guide for ourselves. After 10 years of trial and error and learning, Will has written Culture Shock to provide exactly that.

If you read Culture Shock then your path to building an incredible business will be much shorter and easier, and the world will be a better place for it.

Viva la revolución!

Karmic capitalism


There is a revolution underway in business. It goes by several different names but I believe that all of these movements are working towards an exciting and better future for the world. Here’s a quick summary:

Social business
This focuses on human interactions both internally and externally at an organisation. The idea is that if organisations become better at human, authentic, meaningful conversations and interactions then the company, employees, customers and investors all win. It emerged from the social media marketing/PR/systems movement when it became clear that there is a need to drive real change much deeper within organisations to become truly social and realise the benefits that this brings.

Conscious business
This movement is driving businesses that are profitable but deliver value to a broad set of stakeholders; and believe in human development, growth, involvement, awareness, communication and transparency.

Happiness at work
Ask a buddhist what the purpose of life is and they will simply tell you: ‘To be happy.’ After sleeping, we spend more time at work than doing anything else so we can only be truly happy if we are happy at work. And unsurprisingly, happy workplaces are high performing.

Social enterprise
These are businesses specifically set up to create social benefit. But they do this through providing products and services just like any other business rather than through charity. Some are run as not-for-profit and others for-profit. I believe that there is nothing wrong with profit. It’s a great way to attract investment, ensure long-term survival and allow you to grow in order to provide ever more value.

Organisational democracy
The least catchy title, but the term I use most often. It’s about running an organisation using a set of 10 democratic principles including transparency, reflection, individual freedom and choice. It’s very similar to conscious business, but for me, democracy is the wrapper for all of these movements. Democratic organisations are social, conscious and they lead to social benefit and happiness for everyone involved.

Karmic capitalism
OK this one isn’t really a movement. I just thought it sounded pithy when I read it in Chip Conley’s excellent book ‘Peak’. But it kind of simply sums up everything I have discussed. The idea that capitalism can be a force for good in the world, to generate positive outcomes for ourselves personally as well as businesses now and in the future.

Whatever you want to call it doesn’t matter, but it’s time we all joined the revolution to make capitalism karmic.

Event: Social Business Sessions London

Will McInnes, my old friend and business partner at NixonMcInnes, is at it again! He has launched a regular meet-up for people interested in how organisations can become more social. This is an important evolution from ‘social media marketing/PR’ to looking at how the whole organisation can become more social. A far bigger task, with bigger challenges, and rewards for those that succeed.

This event is definitely one to watch and I will be there with bells on when I’m back in the UK. Last time Will started something like this, MeasurementCamp, it became an important and valued regular event for the fledgling social media industry. I think this is set to be even bigger.

From the event meet-up page:


To provide a regular forum where we can share ideas, experiences and models for helping organisations become more social. And, in doing so, create new connections that lead to community.

**Really important**

This is not a social media marketing event. We will not be talking about Facebook, Twitter etc. This is about organisational culture, structure, and internal technologies and approaches.


We welcome people from a diverse range of backgrounds: academics, consultants, researchers, do-ers.


  1. Open, because we each have a piece of the answer
  2. Diversity FTW
  3. You create the value
  4. No spam


Learning, connecting, making change happen. And in doing so, building the UK social business community.

You can read Ross’ take-away nuggets from the first event here.

Good luck with the event Will 🙂