Daphne Depassé is founder of Plan B. Plan B is just what it says. It’s another path. It’s about acting differently. To move forward. Unscrew the system in a blissful way. As her TEDx bio says: “Daphne is a solution designer, entrepreneur, writer, transformer, speaker, consultant (and insultant), booster, teacher, multiple viewer, unlearner and happifier. Breaking through the status quo.” She is helping people/organizations with problem solving and innovation. For all meaningful stuff that matters. She has a background in knowledge and information management and technology and is the author of the book 15 praktijkverhalen over kennismanagement (Dutch).
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
The “traditional” way of thinking and working (what we learn at school and apply in businesses in our Western society) is too limited, too narrow. We focus only on a small part and we miss important other aspects.
It’s (for example) about control, rules and management by numbers, often with a focus on short-term profit maximization. Everything aimed at certainty, reliability and predictability.
This kind of thinking is aimed at maintaining the status quo, not breaking through. And for sure this doesn’t make people happy.
What about creating value for people. Value that goes beyond money. What about creative thinking, innovation and designing from empathy. A more holistic view. And dealing with uncertainty and unpredictability. It seems that — in business — we are focused on a limited part. We aren’t using the full potential of who we are.
We got stuck into our own circle, our comfort zone, our habits and routines.
And we don’t see the water in which we are swimming.
Our current ways just aren’t working sometimes. Especially when we’re dealing with rapidly changing and complex situations. In these cases we need something else, a different way.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
We developed “Plan B”. Plan B is just what it says: it’s another path. It is a practical and blissful way to unscrew the system. It’s not enough to know. You can see things and know things. But you have to do it, to become it. So, with Plan B, we are able to help others to act different. Helping people to break through the status quo, so that they feel bliss: excited to move forward, beyond their perspective of what they thought was possible.
Why do you do what you do?
You have to know that I am a rebel by nature. I was raised not to be confection, so it’s in my nature not to go with the ordinary flow. So, that explains something. 😉 But seriously, the need for transformation is greater now than ever before. No matter where we look, we see problems that only can be solved by acting different.
I strongly believe we can unscrew our system. We are all in this together.
It is not like we are trapped into the system, which does all kinds of stuff to us. It’s not happening outside of us. We are the system.
As a great commercial once said: You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.
Together we ARE the system. And we CAN change it. By acting different.
What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
I don’t know if everyone would call this art, but I do: the Newspaper Blackouts of Austin Kleon. It’s poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. I love the thought of creating meaningful stuff by removing.
What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
We work according to a ‘Hollywood model:’ temporary, fluid alliances where we team up and make it happen. A core team that is supplemented by experts, depending on what the situation requires. Just as in making movies; sometimes you need a stuntman, makeup artist or special lighting experts. So, it’s more like a network. We have seven B’s as a set of basic ‘rules:’ B Free, B Excellent, B Respectful, B Loyal, B Trustful, B Connected, B Appreciative. But there is one important thing that always is there: we like each other. This may sound meaningless, but it’s a powerful basic. We also would have a good time together outside the workplace.
What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
The world of design(ers). Especially because they are kings in making abstract ideas and thoughts tangible, visible. I’m applying this in my work a lot. I try to visualize everything to bring an idea or thought to life, whatever it is (also with stuff like process, policy, services, etc.). This works great: making things explicit in forms that other people can see, hear, feel or experience. It helps to communicate about what could be, to try, to experiment, to test assumptions and people can add and contribute opportunities.
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
In business we often use abstract terms and jargon. When you take a close look and listen carefully: we talk like idiots. It has a big influence on collaboration, management and teamwork. If we want to have meaningful conversations, smooth collaboration, and happy teamwork, try to stop talking like idiots.
We call it ‘bar language.’ It’s easy: don’t use words that you are not using at home or in a bar.
Oh, and another one: get rid of meaningless job titles.
What is one surprising thing we should know about you?
I do not like phone calls. Here is why. 🙂
What does your preferred work environment look like?
It depends on my activities. Locations affect our moods and thoughts. Everything – from the view, to the colors, the height of a ceiling, the temperature and furniture – influences how we think and feel, and how we work together. Many offices and workplaces, however, are more depressing than stimulating. I think everybody knows places with bad coffee, uncomfortable chairs, places without fresh air or daylight – places where you just want to leave – as quickly as possible.
As our working environment has such a big impact, it only makes sense to pay attention to it. For example, in the beginning of a project you may just want to get a relaxed, cosy, warm and ‘safe’ environment to get to know each other a little bit better and to share some thoughts in an informal way – building trust. For these kinds of activities an office can be devastating. In that case; a café or a park can be far more effective. When you want to be creative, you better look for an environment that is inspiring and stimulate all the senses. And when you have to think clearly and make some difficult decisions together, a clean, fresh and kind of boring location could be working (the traditional office could be the perfect place. 🙂
So, it depends on the activities and needs of the moment in the process. For me, its important to take care of an appropriate, enhancing location to support the activities needed.
What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick?
I love the articles of Brain Pickings. As they say: “A human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.”
Jason Silva is a great source of inspiration for me. This techno-philosopher freestyles his way into the complex systems of society, technology, human existence and discusses the truth and beauty of science. I love it.
And there is Swift & Shift. Nice blogs exploring better ways to do business.
Where in the world are you?