Tom Nixon‘s new book based on Peter Koenig’s source principles is in its final stage of revisions and editing. It will be published in late 2020. To be notified of publication just add your contact details below.
Here’s a preview of the draft back cover text…
Our precious, complex world is at a time of “terrifying opportunity”. We must address threats like the climate emergency and the rise of authoritarianism, and realise the vast positive potential that lies ahead of us. To do this, we need human ingenuity to flourish, from social movements, purpose-driven businesses and many other participatory initiatives to bring change to our world.
Nothing starts without a founder, but here’s the great paradox: To grow a participatory endeavour, it can’t just be about the founder. We have to decentralise, yet at the same time recognise that founders and their successors have a natural authorship and vital role to play in the endeavours they start. A founder failing to show up appropriately can be the undoing of everything, yet play it right and a purposeful vision can come to life spectacularly. Work with Source will show you how.
Sharing the seminal thinker Peter Koenig’s decades of research and experience, Tom Nixon will introduce you to a new perspective on being a founder, and a way of developing purposeful, participatory endeavours. It will teach you how to:
Realise big ideas
Organise in complexity
Work artfully with money
Show up with love
And let it go when you’re done
Work with Source is a comprehensive guide that can be read from cover to cover, or used as a reference for founders to meet the pivotal challenges they’ll encounter on the journey.
About the author Tom Nixon is an activist, coach and advisor to purpose-driven leaders. He is also: the founder of Maptio; an Associate at Greaterthan; and a co-owner of The Meaning Conference on better 21st-century business.
Maptio allows groups who are working with source to visualise how a vision for an initiative breaks down into the smaller parts that contribute to it. At each level you can see who’s responsible for what, and who is helping. The visual map can replace an old-fashioned organisation chart with something that reflects the true creative structure.
Elon Musk is the powerful source at the innovative motor company Tesla. Check out this book extract to see how Musk senses the very high level next steps for the initiative as whole. Focussing on what matters most: ‘whatever your job is now, your new job is delivering cars’; hiring and firing executives to save it from catastrophe; and even selling the company outright (of course with a deal that he remains in charge of the company).
You can also see here a risk of isolation. So obsessed and demanding about delivering on his vision that he’s created a climate of fear. Executives hid the truth from him when things were going badly. That’s a huge problem which could have destroyed the company. A source needs reliable information to be able to make decisions.
There are two jobs for founder to do well: Sourcing, which is sensing and executing the next creative/strategic steps for the initiative as a whole; and leadership, which is all about how you engage the people you have recruited to help you realise the vision. They are distinct activities. Sometimes what you need to do as source is not in the individual best interests of everyone. Decisions can be unpopular and may appear irrational. But to realise a vision, you have to take the next steps as soon as they become clear, otherwise the vision will not materialise, and the passion will drain from the initiative.
It sounds like Musk is a natural source, but perhaps more of an Industrial Age one, leading through fear and command and control. It can certainly be an effective way to realise a vision, but the lack of progressive leadership could become his downfall if he cannot keep the thousands of people working there, helping him to realise his vision, engaged.
This is a fascinating article to read through a source lens. Many tensions could be resolved if the co-founders worked out who is the source and who is the helper. Plus of course dealing with each of their projections to avoid being triggered by certain behaviours.