Dao Ventures have created a fast and sustainable way to rejuvenate organisations that have lost their way, help struggling teams transform failing projects, and support leaders in rediscovering their inspiration and direction.

For individuals

When people struggle, feel pressured or stressed… it’s from a sense of feeling powerless, overwhelmed or being a victim of circumstance.  In our time together we learn that this need never be so.  You talk. I listen, and together we reveal the insights and inspiration that resolves whatever appears to be the issue or opportunity… leaving the source of the answers and all power with you.

For teams and organisations

With an holistic approach to organisational transformation, our premise is that work and business should be a joyful and life-affirming experience… and when it is not, there is something structurally amiss that is easily resolved. What’s more, it is this resolution that is the key to the long term resilience and well-being of the team or enterprise.

Scroll down to read about The Opportunity, The Process and Tools for Transformation

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The Challenge & Opportunity

The top-down way we typically structure decision making (think of a typical org. chart) is a throw-back to the start of the industrial revolution, where the principal resource was human labour, and control was deemed necessary to maximise efficiency and minimise errors. It’s a model of a machine, rather than a living entity. The problem is, machines break down and eventually wear out. Living systems, designed to adapt and evolve, do not.

While we’ve papered over the cracks of this basic mismatch for the last 200 years or so, we believe it is no longer possible to do so. Our enterprises have grown more brittle over time (the average lifespan of an established enterprise in the UK and US is now less that a third of what it was 60 years ago). But more significantly, the younger generation are no longer willing for their work to be a means to an end, rather than a source of fulfillment in their lives.

The opportunity is to create a very different kind of team or organisation that flourishes by default, and where our work together is an enlivening rather than dispiriting experience — the kind of place that everyone yearns to be a part of. But to do that we must look at how living systems heal and rejuvenate, and how they evolve and continue to thrive.

Read more here…
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The Process

We work with you to instantiate three new capabilities:

1. Discover ‘a new source of power’ — The basis of our work is an unwavering faith in the limitless creative power of the human spirit, in everyone. The problem is, the way we have structured our organisations is the anathema of this, and so a quiet cynicism is usually the norm instead of an experience fulfilment. We can do the opposite, and organize in way that supports the exploration and expression of our full potential, building teams and enterprises that are a joy to work in and have dealings with.

2. Allow things to become very simple — by aligning our teams around the living systems principles of identity and self-organisation, the simpler and more effortlessly innovative everything becomes. Conflict and stress arise when this alignment is missing, and then the controls necessary to keep the lid on this, and manage in spite of it, grow evermore complex.

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” ~ O.W. Holmes

3. Create a virtuous circle — by putting the principle of continuous evolution at the heart of our decision making and governance processes, we create an enterprise that constantly evolves, gaining resilience and new capacities from all the stressors and trials that traditional organisations struggle with and fail from. And so we become a magnet for aspiring cohorts, clients and collaborators; and appear to be incredibly ‘lucky’ as our environment leans towards us to support and uphold what we are doing,

Read more here…
Panel 3

Tools for Transformation

“Good morale is worth an extra fifty thousand men” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

We provide three tools that establish this new way of working together. While every enterprise will always have it’s own norms, structure and practices; these tools work universally because they embed principles that work for all living systems. People respond well because they honour their own aspirations and concerns in the decision making and business development process.

The tools are:

  • the Convo practice for decision making that taps into our innate wisdom — ‘a new source of power and beauty I never new existed,’ as Roger Bannister described it.
  • the Convo framework for organising that offers a secure way for teams to self-organise in a way that both supports its members in fulfilling their personal aspirations and (by using consent based decision making, rather than consensus, compromise or top-down) enables teams to move quickly, coherently and easily course correct.
  • the Convo co-creation tool (based on Jira or Asana) to give visibility to the whole process, that enables everyone to collaborate on the continuing evolution of all the essential stuff that makes up a enterprise — policies, strategies, practices, work flow processes etc.

We take a hands-on approach to work with you to ease the transition to this new and sustainable way of working, to handle any ‘old school’ resistance, and to help you implement a process that addresses your specific needs and uniquely works for you. 

We also mentor and support leaders who are open to learning how to use these principals to rejuvenate their team or organisation — so it thrives naturally, where the issues they once struggled with become the catalysts for further transformation and unbounded success.

The ‘Wall’ is resistance, and we’ve all witnessed its effects. It often lurks in the shadows of our mind, and holds us back from fulfilment. We approach it from a purely positive perspective — instead of the source of dysfunction and pain in our lives and our enterprises, as a bridge to where we want to be.

Resisting, ignoring or working around resistance metastasizes it, but embraced, it shows us what we need to see that sets us free. As Carl Jung said, “Unless you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”

Credits: Hugh McLoud of Gapingvoid Culture Design Group for the images here, and the brilliant art blocks that adorn my office. Also, Cathy Sierra for the ‘Big Wall’ image.

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Hi,  I'm Nick Smith

Dao Ventures is an itch I've long needed to scratch — a project born out of two nagging ideas:

First, that although very few live truly fulfilling lives, it is something that everyone is capable of, regardless of our history or present circumstances.
Second, that the way we manage our projects and build our enterprises is broken... that there has to be a simpler, more natural, sustainable and enjoyable way — a way that supports and upholds the first idea.
In a former life I was an entrepreneur, founding business in contracting, retail, financial services and computer software... with success and 'failure' in roughly equal measure, but each perfect in bringing me here now.
Please email theteam@daoventures.org or Nick Smith at nick@daoventures.org or post a message below: