The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (so get off your…)

This week I was at one of the book launch events for Vlatka Hlupic’sManagement Shift book. It’s a valid discussion, backed up by her research, of where the 21st Century organisation needs to be heading. A move away from rigid command and control and towards emergent leadership with a more flexible approach. I wrote about it (here) on Medium. Vlatka tells me it took over her life for 18 months while she focused on it.

My friend Euan Semple published Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do: A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web, about two and half years ago. It’s a practical guide for managers on how to use the social web to work more effectively, and has the key message that social is (and needs to be) personal, not corporate. Euan’s doing one of the two morning keynote slots at our Enterprise 2.0 Summit London in just over 2 weeks time. Part of the reason for wanting him on board at the conference is that his approach to making social work for the organisation is different to our Agile Elephant approach, and we want the audience at the event to get a range of views and some tension in the discussion around digital transformation and leadership, so we get to the heart of what matters.

And then I got an email overnight from my friend Vinnie Mirchandani, confirming I’ll be getting an advance copy of his new book SAP Nationbefore Thanksgiving, so I can put together a review in time for the 10 December publication date. This one is about the economy around the SAP ecosystem and the business applications market, where SAP is the big player — their adverts have strap lines like “the best run companies run SAP” and they talk about the amount of the world’s business transactions that flow through their software. Vinnie’s analysis and take on this topic over the last 5–10 years will be fascinating. This follows The New Polymath: Profiles in Compound-Technology Innovations and The New Technology Elite: How Great Companies Optimize Both Technology Consumption and Production.

I look at these three, Vlatka, Euan and Vinnie, and I’m so impressed by what they’ve achieved. And then I look at some of the other lesser titles published by acquaintances in the social media and technology world, and wished I’d got my act together earlier in the cycle, say to write one of the early basic books on use of the Twitter and social media in business, or something about Digital Transformation. My inner author says I could have, should have done that. I have a half written (is it half?, well I started it, how many thousand of words and notes written?) book on commercial creativity. Further back I have part of a novel, ironically titled Unfinished Business. The key is in the execution. I need to follow through, and so I’m reminded of:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Most people will recognize that as a Chinese proverb. Some will know it’s a quote from Lao Tzu (or is it Laozi?) the philosopher and poet usually dated to around the 6th century BC and said to be a contemporary of Confucius. He is best known as the reputed founder of philosophical Taoism and author of the Tao Te Ching. Some other great quotes from him:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.”

“Silence is a source of great strength.”

“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”


“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.”

So, one of the many reasons I’m writing here is that the more I practice, the more I improve. But I also need to remember another philosopher, Magnus Magnusson:

I’ve started, so I’ll finish.

(Cross-posted @ David Terrar on Medium)

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Founder & CXO of Agile Elephant, a digital transformation consultancy and solutions provider. Head of D2C, a consulting firm which provides business and social media consulting and Cloud based solutions for content, collaboration, web publishing, online accounting and ERP. Was director EuroCloud UK, chaired techUK's Software as a Service Group, now Chair of Cloud Industry Forum.