kin'22 Takes the Collective Beyond

In May, kyu hosted its second annual collective-wide gathering, kin. kin and its content were designed to reflect the interests of our collective and to represent the thinking that leads kyu’s businesses as we move beyond the pandemic to a world continually transformed by digital innovation.

In landing on the title “Beyond,” kin’22 captured the essential challenge facing the collective, in every geography and every business: To rise to the challenges of today, we need to go beyond—beyond the confines of our companies, our teams, our individual projects, and our ways of working.

Over the gathering’s three days, there was a generosity of spirit, and a desire to discover and collaborate — a genuine collective energy validated all who participated.

Here, five big ideas worth exploring.

1. The transformation of society and the economy by digital innovation has been accelerated.

The pandemic was a setback, but, as was stated on Day 2 of kin’22, the comebacks are always stronger than the setbacks. In this case, as has been noted elsewhere, the transformation of society and the economy by digital innovation has been accelerated. This goes beyond booming e-commerce: all aspects of society and business are being impacted by digital innovations that are altering the power structure and therefore the conversations that create markets.

Public Digital’s Mike Bracken introduced the topic
of referent power—the power of influence rather than control. This social power is transforming every market and every social norm.

Digital technology—in the right hands—replaces the hierarchical system of reward and control, then flattens it. Naturally, referent power can accrue to bad players as well as good, which invites creative professionals into a conversation about the ethics of influence.

2. The digital economy is “collective” not “controlled.”

People shared content that showcased new social organizations led by ethics and influence rather than command and control.

There were brilliant examples of how social exchanges fuel digital economics, and how collective expression is more empowering than individual expression.
“The Sound of Happiness,” from Gehl, allowed us to witness prototyping in real time as the team produced an audio landscape from our many tiny contributions.

3. Embracing mistakes and misfits yields magic.

Learning from each other, with different perspectives and having our prejudices challenged, is part of the innovative energy of creative collaboration. Diversity within this context is key to creative excellence, and respect for diverse talent and skills is essential.

The Tokio Misfits session was the perfect opening to make participants feel welcome, with its disruptive kickoff to kin’22. It offered silliness, and that silliness was its magic.

Gehl’s live prototype of “The Sound of Happiness” provoked an eagerness to contribute and play. The “Office Ours” card game, which reimagined the
future of work, and IDEO’s Web3 experiments were opportunities to directly inform and respond to the work that teams are doing, at a moment when everyone is exploring new edges.

How might we create safe spaces where people can escape social hierarchies and conditioning to be free thinkers, explore, and play? To learn from a multitude of perspectives, to loudly listen to one another, to make the diverse definitions of “creativity” feel tangible?

4. Neutral third spaces will level the field.

kin created a magical space and a low-stakes environment where people could find sanctuary. As Michael Hendrix
of IDEO noted, we need to step into “co-owned” territory, where everyone has the same footing to engender new connections and successful creative collaboration.

How might we provide these third spaces and create new rituals (both virtual and in-person) for the transition from offices to neutral territory?

5. Creative collaboration has its own rhythm.

As noted in one post-event survey response, cross- pollinating ideas is “a powerful motivator and shows the real power of kyu,” but the best approach will vary.

I want to be in a band with you, as shared anecdotally
by IDEO’s Hendrix, is a better invitation, yielding more positive energy than being asked formally to join a workgroup. kin was a model of what collaboration across kyu could look and feel like, and a first step in fostering ties and facilitating meetups in an organic environment.

It was also observed that it takes time for groups to form before they can “perform.” This investment of time, though, can produce relationships and
friendships that become timeless.

The power of kyu is both as facilitator and provocateur in building and fueling kinship among the collective so that, slowly but eventually, there is purposeful collaboration.