I’ve often considered being the odd one out as something of a badge of honour, particularly in a business context. Any aspiring intrapreneur needs to be comfortable with breaking free from the herd, even if others think you’re a little bit crazy.
This was the underlying theme of the book I wrote last year, The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a corporate insurgent, (which Business Fights Poverty were kindly the main sponsor of): “did I go nuts or is it the system I was trying to change that’s crazy?”
Having said all of that, purchasing the remains of a derelict farm on a Scottish Island raised more than a few eyebrows, even for those who know me well. I’d like to think there’s some method to what most would consider madness, however. I’m aspiring to create a business ‘decelerator’, a term I first heard used by my friend and successful social entrepreneur Michel Bachmann. What on earth is that, you’re probably asking?
Well, this recent comment piece in The Scotsman gives a good summary of the rational. In brief, the business ‘decelerator’ is all about engaging with (mostly but not exclusively) business professionals and disconnecting them from the constant distraction of technology, results, busy roles, constant deadlines and connecting them to the creative and transformative power of art, music, nature and community - ultimately to a deeper sense of purpose. Our team want to balance the typical business professional's bias for doing, with the power of just being. The fact that the 18th century farm ruins I’m renovating is known as Craigberoch is rather apt.
Why do I think that businesses would want to support this? Shouldn’t business be all about working harder, faster, bigger, better, cheaper? Well, it would be wrong to mistake this as a holiday destination for tired execs who want a bit of time off to chill - the rationale goes far deeper. Of course there are obvious benefits of resilience, well-being and employee engagement, but I’m convinced Craigberoch will act more as a catalyst for creating innovative new products, services and business models. The over-arching goal is to awaken a generation of dormant ‘Elon Musk-type’ social intrapreneurs and innovators inside the corporate world – unlocking commercial value for companies and social and environmental impact for the planet. On a personal level, I hope that Craigberoch will also have a positive impact on the Isle of Bute community where I grew up.
If any of this sounds appealing, then you may wish to consider joining our pilot “Decelerator Launch Lab” which will be hosted on the island from 18-22 November 2019. We’re open to professionals from all levels and across all sectors for this initial event, to provide as diverse a range of backgrounds as possible. The faculty or “The Avengers” as I prefer to call them, are equally diverse; a group of fabulous professionals from the world of art, music, improv, yoga, special forces etc with appropriate nicknames to match such as the Maestro, the Jesters or the Warrior Guide to name but a few.
To give people a flavor of what to expect, our team is running a series of webinars exploring various topics within the broader ‘deceleration’ theme. The first 45 minute webinar asked the question “How to disconnect to reconnect?” and was a lot of fun. You might enjoy watching the replay. Our next webinar will take place this coming Friday 25th October at 4pm (UK time) and will pose the question “How can good mental health and wellbeing drive innovation in business?” - quite fundamental to what the decelerator is trying to achieve. Join us live on zoom using this link or watch the replay on our YouTube channel. Or if you want more information on the broader initiative, then visit our website at www.craigberoch.org.
There are no guarantees of success in life, but one thing I am certain of is the urgent need for business to radically up its game when it comes to tackling the climate crisis and the broader global goals if we are to stand any chance of achieving the 2030 targets. Perhaps the best way to accelerate change and breakthrough innovation could in fact come through slowing down.