Friday 18 June 2010

E20 goal: Intimacy solves the problem of Anonymity

Over the past months, these two words have been dancing around my mind: Intimacy. Anonymity.
  • They relate very strongly to my decision to become self-employed
  • I can perfectly use them to describe the assignments I liked versus those I didn't like
  • But, last but not least: they determine my state of joy of being employed
Why is there an Enterprise 2.0, but no Small Business 2.0? Or Entrepreneur 2.0? And why is @Headshift's bio better defining Social Business Design than Dachis's?

In the currently undergoing #e2conf in Boston, people are claiming that collaboration is the goal for E2.0. A similar thing happened last November and brought forth Dachis' Social Business Design. Been there, done that: here's my definition of E2.0 and its goal which will hold for the next decades to come

If you're intimate, everything's alright.
Deb Lavoy tweeted this just one minute ago on the -once again- overloaded Twitter:
I love that when I call papa johns they know I want delivery to the pool
That's Intimacy right there. Huge. Papa John's has over 3,000 restaurants worldwide, and yet when Deb calls, they know her (and they should, but not for reasons known to them)
Note: in a situation where usually anonymity is expected, Deb is treated with intimacy. And liking it

If you're anonymous, everything's alright.
A colleague of mine and a fellow Tweeter told me they want to be anonymous on Twitter, because their political, religious and whatnot views may not concur with their employer's.
So one of them tweets whatever he wants to because he's hiding his true identity, and the other isn't (either)
Note: in a situation where usually intimacy is expected, this (not-to-be-named) Tweeter is treated with anonymity. And liking it

Deb is enjoying the fact that anonymity for her turns into intimacy, because she isn't really looking for anonymity. She's just looking for great pizza and pizza delivery - and really happy to receive great service as well; the service of intimacy
Why? It's good to get what you expect, but it's really great if you get what you want - simple as that

But it's a great slap-in-the-face to deny people what they can expect. You worked hard all year, reached all your agreed-upon goals and more, and there suddenly is this new manager giving you new goals while claiming the old ones are not relevant. You built this intimate relationship with your boss over a few years' time, and suddenly he gets replaced by someone else who lets you know it's only a temporary thing for him. You're coming back from holiday to find out you've been removed from the project - by getting told so when you show up for work.The same applies from the customer's point of view. You just have this great relation with this account manager, and suddenly he gets replaced by someone who doesn't know the business nor is very personable. You call the helpdesk because your application isn't working, only to be told that you're not on their list of customers. You keep getting direct mail for your colleagues that died (long ago)

Proximity creates intimacy as distance creates anonymity. The bigger a company gets, the greater the distance in between people. Add reorganisations, physical movement of people, desks and departments, and it's easy to see how every attempt for Intimacy is easily smothered in big orgs. Is that bad? Yes it is
  • A lack of intimacy is what leads to divorces
  • A lack of intimacy is what creates conflicts and wars
  • Abundance of anonymity is what drags the neighbourhood down
  • Abundance of anonymity is what lets you kill your neighbour in times of war
I've worked for an enterprise for over 13 years, and will be an entrepreneur in a few months. I expect (and aim) to be intimate with my customers on a professional basis.
I might grow into a small business, with a dozen or so employees. Still, I'd expect (and aim) to be intimate with my customers on a professional basis, and of course I'd be intimate with my employees on the same professional level.
No rocket science there, I think. And that's exactly why there's no Entrepreneur2.0 nor SMB2.0. There's plenty of intimacy for them

In my Maybe your company is just beyond social I also point out where there is not enough intimacy left in order to introduce E2.0. And that's exactly why there's no Bureaucracy2.0 either. There's too much anonymity for that

C'mon guys. E2.0 has nothing to do with tech or tools or 'collaboration'. It's all about trust, humanisation, and employees. If your employees are happy, your customers will be happy. It is THAT simple

16 reacties:

Venessa Miemis said...

hi martijn,

nice post. i'd love you to expand on your definitions of the two words, as both have a sliding scale of what people think intimacy and anonymity mean.

for me:

intimacy: openness and transparency of thoughts, and a razor-sharp clarity of mind. being open/social is not enough. it is the ability to construct mental models, raise conscious awareness and deconstruct the many interferences in communication that occur because of the illusions of the ego. meaning, part of transcending ego is to realize that it in itself is a construct of many pieces that each of us has used over the years as interface tools with other humans. if what we are talking about now is a new operating system for business and interaction, it requires a new interface. so, if you want to be intimate and open, you have to create a model for that. it requires the ability to build trust, to share thoughts and emotions, to be compassionate, to be empathetic, and to want to exchange information so that all members of the organization are able to contribute and act their role with as complete an amount of information as possible. if you want an agile, adaptive, intelligent organization that is able to learn and evolve, it should be expected that all members are given the opportunity to participate by giving them the information they need and allowing them to expand, experiment, fail, adjust, reflect, and push forward. that is not quite how things operate in most organizations.

also, i think the organization has to have a very clear vision and mission, that all members are aware of and on board with, so that the vision is shared and everyone is working towards that ideal.

(i just wrote a post about developing that foresight, in case you are interested:

and finally, language. i just wrote paragraphs on the word intimacy, and you may not agree with my view, but that would be the point - that there would be a conversation as to what we mean when we use words that are conceptual principles of how we operate. everyone must at least have a common ground on language. if you listen to how people speak, often we casually toss words around because they are convenient, but if you ask for a definition, you'd be surprised at the blank look you'll get. so i'll posit that an intelligent organization that knows what 'intimate' means has people who have gained the clarity of speaking a common language and being able to listen very closely to what is said and what is meant.

anonymity: well, if you are placing anonymity at the opposite pole of intimacy, then i would suggest this word means not only an anonymity from other people, but an anonymity from the self. again, if we are trapped in the stories we tell ourselves via the inflated ego, we are probably not able to effectively communicate with other humans, because we ourselves are confused about reality. i think that when we place too much focus on the ego and status and materialism, we effective isolate and alienate ourselves. so, when we talk about breaking silos and creating open communication and collaboration, it's not a physical silo or a departmental silo really, but a mental silo. if we all have walls up around ourselves and refuse to expose who we are, how are we supposed to really communicate? we are just shadow people, and in many ways, asleep at the wheel.

this at least is my view, not saying it is right or wrong, it is just the way i see it.

thanks for the heads up on the post! :)

- v

Martijn Linssen said...

Awesome Venessa, you just became record holder for longest comment ;-) - thank you very much!

Words. If you check my About, you'll find I'm really a Linguist with a solid base in Latin and Greek. Don Miguel Ruiz puts high value on words as they are one of the most powerful things we can wield

Socrates filled his life with dialogues about the definition of words - only to find out no one ever really was sure of their meaning (including himself)

I'm rereading your definition of intimacy, and getting goosebumps all over. Strong, concise, extraordinarily to the point. It boils down to the mote and the beam in our eyes, like Jesus said. The model you describe is so big it almost seems sci-fi, at least in the organisations (tens of thousands of employees) I've wandered around in. Hiveminded organisations come to mind that aren't larger than hundreds of people each. I stick with my proximity here, and realise that numbers automatically mean distance, even if it's one big building that fits them all

really interested in your post, I'll read it later on, plastering walls right now and on a tight schedule ;-)

I'd rather avoid words sometimes, almost. In my line of business I usually opt for explanation without using The Words. Words are so much subject to the Law of Association sometimes. Again, Socrates and Don Miguel Ruiz come to mind

Yes, physically as well as emotionally I'm placing Intimacy and Anonymity on the outer ends of the scale here. Ah, the Self. You MUST read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, although I almost presume you have. Or Stephen Wolinsky, he's also in my About (it's a lengthy one LOL). Shadow people, Socrates and the cave, nice. I hope not that Enlightenment turns out to be a prerequisite for the optimal organisation ;-)

Beautiful Venessa, I'll get back at this later today. Astonishing view, I think it's the right view, and am hoping it's the way we're heading

Openworld said...

Intriguing - thanks Martjin and Venessa.

I'm wondering how your insights align with Buddhist views regarding wants and expectations.

Buddhism suggests, as I understand it (eg, that enlightenment emerges when we let go of our wants and expectations.

Your comments, on the other hand, suggest that people can and should become more sensitive to each other's (and their own) wants and expectations.

Where do you see the wisdom in both perspectives meeting and integrating?


Mark Frazier

Martijn Linssen said...

Thank you Mark! A very interesting question

I wrote down my thoughts on wants and expectations (a.o.) too, it's here: (and even longer than Venessa's comment so consider yourself warned)

You can't live without goals. Life goes on after Enlightenment, you still have to eat & visit the toilet, and there will always be boogers up your nose no matter what. Just sayin' that on purpose...

Epictetus ( might help here: he teaches which wants and expectations there are, and what their pros and cons are. 2,000 years old, Lost Wisdom

In the end, that also is very, very simple. Regarding your real question: we treat eachother like we aren't human, like we have a professional life and a private one. Well, maybe we did ages ago, but I feel that we all just Are 24/7/365. I'm always my Self, and there are times that I'm really really professional and focused on being that, as well as private, but the main cloth is a very large shade of grey, really

Anonymous said...

Great collaboration along the shades of gray between intimacy and anonymity. I agree it helps to envision these as ends of a continuum.

Now musing with a company setting in mind.

Let intimacy be light. I know you. I know about you.

Let anonymity be an absence of light. We are not connected.

Degrees of intimacy/anonymity in between.


1. Modeling intimacy as light limps as a comparison, because light is a one-way flow, intimacy is two-way (an example for asymmetric intimacy: stalking).

2.Modeling anonymity, or not-being-connected, as distance, this valid feeling could be brought about by too rarefied connections, a too low frequency of contact. "Never before" being an extreme and "just not enough to trust" being close to beginning intimacy.

3. Understanding the degrees of anonymity/intimacy as a choice leads us to four factors that determine the connection:

¤ my willingness to be open, to trust
¤ your perception of this
¤ your willingness to be open, to trust
¤ perception of this

Have we thus defined the components of social currency?

Openworld said...

Thx all - much wisdom to integrate! Initial thought is that our frames of reference send out ripples/waves. Inside the bounds of one's extended/empathic self (including valued others), there are "golden threads" of synergy created at the point where standing waves are formed by convergence of civic, business, and personal initiatives. (The initiatives grow in accord with deep underlying storyline pattern - my guess something like #narrativefractals as outlined in the "Visualizing Future" convo in the Forum.)

Emerging initiatives can be modelled as having "wants" and "offers" to become ready for actualization. These can lead to the social currency flows within trustnets, and/or to monetary flows (mainly with entities outside the boundaries of the empathic "self.")

My hunch is that valued initiatives that hatch and grow from the trustnets become our (ego-transcending) offspring. Wants and expectations then detach from their initial focus on concerns for the narrow self, to bind with concerns for these progeny and those whose lives they can enrich. As trustnets gather in more sentient souls, the Buddhist notions of transcending personal wants and expectations enable the kinds of intimacy that parents feel in creating environments where their progeny can choose their destinies, and thrive.

Hope some of these thoughts will remix with others, and evolve!



Unknown said...

Hello Martijn. Thank you for this wonderful post. I caught the link from Mark’s @openworld tweet. Vanessa's definitions are beautiful and touched my soul too. Then Mark's question on how we align these views with the (Buddhist) concepts of detachment and enlightenment challenged me to think about what I’ve been learning lately on my spiritual path. You've all enriched my very late Friday night in Australia.

Although I’m a long-time student of eastern spirituality, familiar with various paths, I'm no expert in any one, including Buddhism. However, as I deepen my studies of the Vedic texts, it seems the principles (if not the processes) around enlightenment are common to the various philosophies. On that basis may I share where I'm up to in my understanding around intimacy, letting go, wants and expectations.

"Letting go" is about detaching from what are, essentially, the ego's perceived physical, material and intellectual wants and expectations - the ones we believe are prerequisites for worldly comfort and status. In detaching - in ceasing to "grasp" after material opulence, we rest, we practice and increasingly we come to know who we are. Now we get free to express our true self. We develop, among other qualities, an innate sensitivity to, an understanding for, a knowledge of each other's (and our own) emotional and spiritual wants and expectations. Intimacy? We understand that the wants and expectations of our true selves are basic, authentic and universal – beyond just our individual wants and expectations - like Love, Truth, Peace. I’m not sure how I got to here and where this is going, but I’ll persevere!! The less we seek to gratify our senses, the more we get clarity to experience who we really are. It gets easier to connect with ourselves and others from that place of (absolute) truth. It is here we experience new levels of intimacy and connectedness, unconditional love, shared goals, global needs aligned to individual expectations. Beyond duality. Does that makes sense?.


PS: just about to post and noticed CoCreatr, Martijn and Mark round 2 - apologies for any overlaps .. so grateful to have found this mini-forum. tku

Spiro said...


"life goes on after enlightment" this for me is true, after i "became enlightened" i suffered depression, because of boogers up my nose lol

that's because when i "let go" i had to grab onto something again after that, i wasn't detached enough, until i realized, that "self" is the observer of life, and life is the mechanics of a structure that only asks to be aligned in this life...


For me enlightment as Buddha described it is th end of suffering, he didn't say how to become enlightened, but it's the end of suffering,

this to me means staying detached from the mechanisms mechanics. yes we need to put effort in rewiring or creating new neurons, but it's a detached participation to the original purpose of being, and allowing the do be a mechanics...

Intimacy for me is vulnerability anonymity the shiled that covers our vulnerability....


Paula Thornton said...

In an era where we need to question ALL of our existing operating assumptions, this is paramount: business IS personal.

Martijn Linssen said...


Thank you Bernd (CoCreatr).

Introducing a physical judgment doesn't do the process much good, I think, especially not if you tear it apart only a few lines later

It's not the statics I'm worried about, we all agree on the agreements. It's just that those agreements appear to be subject to random interpretation any time of the day, depending on who's talking. The really bad thing is that word-of-mind has precedence over written text in enterprises: you have to fight a battle to claim your indisputable rights

Social currency? Why don't we treat our working life just the same way we do our private life. Divorce 90% of the management. Oh and don't forget: whatever something is, it only exists in eachother's perception


Mark (OpenWorld), I don't know you but you're broadcasting
You posed a question, I responded, and now you ramble on
I'm sure that's not your intention and you're very intelligent, but I'd appreciate a bit of dialogue here - and I assume (!) that you do too


Suzie, I love you. Perfect


Spiro, I'm glad you survived :-)
You beautifully describe suffering as mechanism (mechanics), I'll quote you on that, because you're absolutely True there
Talking to the Buddha in you: if you know the value of a wire and its wirer, why rewire? I like the goal and purpose, but who's going to tell you you're done rewiring?

Intimacy is strength and power. Anonymity is vulnerability. Because Intimacy equals Love, and Anonymity equals Fear

headmine said...

Interesting discussion ...

Intimacy and anonymity don't appear as opposites to me.

You can lose your anonymity without gaining intimacy ... as a celebrity does roaming through a city of strangers. Or you can have both in equal parts ... as strangers do in a one night stand.

Distance and proximity form a tidy continuum but it doesn't map so cleanly to our notions of intimacy and anonymity. The density of the city allows everyone to remain anonymous, while the distance between neighbours in the country leads to a very real sense of intimacy in which no one is anonymous. Or to take an example from the original post ... in divorce it's all too often a lack of distance between partners that eventually evaporates their intimacy.

Michael Josefowicz said...

Interesting thread..

@headmine "Distance and proximity form a tidy continuum but it doesn't map so cleanly to our notions of intimacy and anonymity."

Perhaps it can work if it's not seen as a continuum but more like a set of overlapping fields. The anonymity of the city coupled with the increased density, increases the chance encounter that might develop into intimacy.

To my mind, the essential characteristics of intimacy is the ability to be hurt coupled with a pretty good view of the Other.

It's exactly the danger of vulnerability that creates the relief and "magic" when the authentic intimacy event occurs. It's the ability to have a pretty accurate view of the Other that makes it possible.

Nice point on "as strangers do in a one night stand." It's what Erica Jong in the Fear of Flying referred to as the "zipless fuck." The satisfaction of intimacy without the danger of entanglement or the work involved in seeing the Other.

To a different point, but I think maybe a clarifying example is framing twitter is as a field with the possibility of the "zipless fuck" in the sphere of ideas.

No real need to "know the other" coupled with very little risk of reputational damage if you say something in a pointed way. my 2¢ is that it's the risk of reputational damage that makes twitter so hard for "brands" and much easier for individuals.

Openworld said...


Back for dialogue! ;-D

>>Because Intimacy equals Love, and Anonymity equals Fear

How do you square this with Maimonides on anonymity and charity?



Martijn Linssen said...

Interesting article Mark, and interesting person that Maimonides

I wonder though if this really is about giving. To me it seems it is about feeling proud about having given - I'm having difficulties agreeing with the order Maimonides gives
But maybe that's because is behind it: for Jews it appears to be a religious obligation to perform charity

Off the record, I don't believe in religions and think they are always bad for anyone. Faith and belief I dig, but religions, no NO. Religions are institutionalised belief factories where look outwards for salvation, in stead of inwards

But it's interesting to see the distance growing and anonymity increasing. Would that mean less Love and more Fear? Well of course I have to defend myself here ;-) and state that there's more Love needed to increasingly anonymously donate - because of the absence of the chance of being appreciated and rewarded for it

The driver for giving turns from outside-out ("hey guys look how great I am giving alms to this poor sucker!") to inside-in. One gives, because one loves to do so. One doesn't fear to be seen as not holding up his religious obligation by not giving, one just gives because it's a good thing to do. At that point, I doubt whether people even still give because of the Tzedakah

There. I'm off to bed now, more later? Thanks Mark, I'm liking this!


@headmine and @Michael: awesome and great points, really have to mul on those. I'll try a graphic 3D representation of that and my Intimacy-Anonymity and Proximity-Distance. I'm really bad at that but if all fails I'll just write it down

Openworld said...


I agree with your point about anonymity, in this case of giving, being a sign of greater-than-typical Love.

But what if a love-filled person wants to (anonymously) interact online with an unhappy one, to encourage them to grow?

That's an act of gift-giving too... a case in which the reason for anonymity is not bound up with fear. Unless, perhaps, it is the giver's fear that the receiver will feel awkward around or indebted to a (known) source of an act of kindness.

What do you think?



Martijn Linssen said...

Well, basically, then the same thing happens as in my examples, where you experience distance in proximity, or anonymity in intimacy - but this is reverse

But would this be the slap in the face of not giving someone what he expects, or giving someone what he wants over what he may expect?

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Copy your comment before signing in...