Charles Handy on meaning in organisations

The London Business School (LBS for short) library is a wonderful resource, probably one of the best libraries in the world. Full stop. One of the reasons I love to visit and browse the bookshelves is that they stock the most interesting books. I just ran across a volume the other day, by Charles Handy, himself one of the co-founders of LBS and who taught here for years. 

The book is called ‘The Search for Meaning’, and in it he talks about exactly that. This quote in particular struck me:

We have much to learn if we want to give meaning to our organizations. We need a new dream for our society. Not a dream where the economy grows (though that would do no harm), but one where everybody is enabled to be an artist in the great game of life. We must all strive after this. 

Hear, hear. And that, believe it or not, was written in 1996, a good 15 years ago, long before talk about the new capitalism became all the rage. 

Here’s to Charles Handy, for inspiring me beyond belief. Thank you. 

The future of the agency

The future of the agency (advertising, digital, marketing comms, pr, any of these really) is something that’s been on my mind for a while now. I’ve always been a consultant in my working life and for the past 3 years on the branding/digital side and I’m always looking for ideas that will improve the ‘traditional’ agency models, and that kick the tires of the established consultancies/agencies a little (for more, here’s a set of link on my Delicious tagged ‘futureoftheagency’). Partially because I still feel like a bit of an outsider, partially because new business models cast a magic spell on me for some unknown reason and partially because I think kicking one own tires is a good thing. And a very necessary thing. 

An interesting development in agency world today that I’m curious to see how many agencies will follow: BBH have partnered with Spark Ventures to set up an investment fund, aptly named Black Sheep Fund (about which more in a blogpost with slidedeck introducing the fund on their blog) and the amount of fuss this is kicking up made me realise that this is actually quite extraordinary. Not many marketing/advertising/branding/digital agencies invest their hard-earned money into new ventures, even when it makes so much sense to do so. I’m curious to see what ‘Black Sheep’-s the fund will invest in and how many more agencies/holding companies will set up their own fund soon. 

Edit: this just in: Mashable posts a list of the top 5 most innovative digital agencies, including Huge, Breakfast and Victor and Spoils. 


If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, then what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

From: the gospel of Thomas (via Charles Handy, The Search for Meaning)

Hey, where did my high street go?

My hometown is one of the nicest and cute little towns in NL, though of course I’m biassed. I go back quite regularly, my parents still live there and on my last visit something dawned on me. My hometown’s High Street is disappearing!

I don’t know why it took me a while to figure this out, but the shops are slowly closing. Many reasons I suppose: more people working means less time for shopping (female labour force participation has been historically, and still is, quite low, though rising), more cars means it’s easier to go to the next town over which has more variety of shops, more retired people means more people who can make shopping a fun activity (which includes going somewhere ‘special’ to do it) and less of a chore which means that all the stores left are the stores that cater towards the basics. Of course, there’s the recession, and online shopping too. 

The more discretionary spending is now down outside my hometown and the High Street feels empty. And it’s not just my hometown, there’s plenty of towns like this. And I’m not sure what the solution is, but my heart cries out seeing it so empty. So this past trip to my parents, I made a conscious effort to shop local instead of going to another town. I did my tiny bit, now I hope there’ll be more structural solutions. 


I love spring, with its blossoms and new leaves and new beginnings. And this year, with our new basil plants, just sprouting after having been planted only last week.