People, Platforms and Purpose: Gunther Sonnenfeld Discusses Business Design and the Future of Work

Our great friend Gunther recently recorded this video (with subtitles in Portuguese) for a presentation in Brazil. For those of you who do not know Gunther, he is a visionary innovator and entrepreneur, and has these three major roles:

CIO at Faveeo (social web intelligence) Faveeo is a new social intelligence platform designed to help companies and organizations make more efficient and profitable decisions, which includes how they can better empower employees and their ecologies, as well as identifying emerging markets.

Partner at LUMAN (social innovation) Luman (meaning “enlightened human”) is a social innovation co-op that uses empathic approaches to transforming organizational structures.

Partner at Codemonkeys (tech development) Codemonkeys is an adaptive technology outfit that is platform agnostic, and capable of creating extensible code in any programming language. It is an a project-management driven, hub-and-spoke operation that leverages a network of top-notch front-end, back-end and specialty teams around the globe.

In the video, which is wide ranging, Gunther talks about how he sees investment markets evolving over the short and medium term, and this includes a look at how investors and entrepreneurs are changing their relationships with major corporations, developing new and refined hub-and-spoke business models, such as the venture between Proctor and Gamble and Cintrifuse.

A key theme Gunther picks out is how technology can help people do their jobs better. While his focus is of course on information systems, Gunther does not separate the issue of technology with the issue of people. Gunther sees that there is a “gaping whole” in the way innovation is conducted, namely that the human aspects are ignored.

So new tools and methodologies which have been introduced are not looking at how people can interact differently and help organisations evolve. Gunther picks out three general challenges for organisations. How can organisations:

  • know themselves better?
  • understand markets better?
  • operate in a totally different way?

A key lack in many organisations is the way in which they focus on innovation and technology to the exclusion of human factors, and especially the fact that most companies are not talking about building cultures for the future. This very much ties into a previous recent article of mine looking at the engineering culture of Spotify (see Squads, Tribes, Guilds and Agile Organisations).

Credit: StoryLabs

Credit: StoryLabs

Gunther discusses the way in which our own work around Holonomics blends in with the innovative work being done at his new partnership Luman. Again, if you look at Spotify, it could be said to be a holonomic engineering culture in that the focus is on how the whole comes to presence through teams, communication, culture and importantly shared values.

If we look at how Spotify ties in with the concept of an organisation as a living system, Agile has not been imposed on the company, but changes come through ‘meaningful disturbances’. So as Gunther describes, the work of Luman is not to impose their own ways of thinking, but how their approach is about

going in and listening and designing an experience with those stakeholders where their activity, their ideation powers, their knowledge can come out in spades, and we can all witness what that transformation looks like and turn that into a business or a market or an organisational opportunity or a series of opportunities.

Gunther connected with Maria and I after realising how Holonomics is very much aligned with his own experiences and my own vision for how organisations can thrive going forward. As Gunther says, Holonomics touches upon “the value of experience, the way of seeing holistically, the way of applying the way you see things, and acquire knowledge and spread them across organisations and the way you share” as well as being based on human values and aspects of spirituality which, in an organisational setting, “can no longer be ignored”.

Gunther describes Holonomics as “a very holistic way of looking at the world and business is literally, a lens into the human condition”. He sees there being much value to be “developed and derived and extracted and reinvented tied to how people think of themselves”.

Gunther and his partners at Luman are ultimately figuring out new ways to blend people, platform and purpose, in a way where they can engage with any organisation and help people enact their vision.

I hope that you find this video interesting, and that you too are inspired to develop new and innovative business models, ones which authentically combine people, platforms, purpose and of course planet. Below are some questions to help you in this quest.


Having watched the video, I thought that you may wish to use the video either as an invitation for dialogue within your organisations, or also as a training tool. With this in mind, these questions below may start off any discussions. I am sure you will have many of your own:

  • What now is the focus of strategy in US new ventures, especially those related to innovation?
  • How could hub-and-spoke structured business ventures and ecosystems impact on the overall strategy of large organisations?
  • Gunther is examining how information systems can transform organisations. Does your company have a well-developed information strategy from a human perspective?
  • What happens when products and services are becoming commoditised at an accelerated rate?
  • How can organisations help people to better constantly adapt to shifts in the market?
  • With this vision of the future, how does this change the strategy for partnering, collaboration and co-creation?
  • John Kotter in XLR8 is advocating a dual-operating system, one traditional and one extremely agile, within organisations. How does this compare with Gunther discussing hub-and-spoke?
  • “Business is a lens into the human condition”. What did Gunther mean by this?
  • How do people skills and empathy translate into organisational success?
  • Which companies are successfully blending people, platforms and purpose?

Related Articles Humans with the lights on: How can we transform the world through narratives and exponential growth? Guest article: Brand Economics and Solving the Coca-Cola Problem – Gunther Sonnenfeld Notes on Our Holonomics Hangout with Gunther Sonnenfeld Gunther Sonnenfeld on the future of journalism, social media and conscious innovation

2 responses to “People, Platforms and Purpose: Gunther Sonnenfeld Discusses Business Design and the Future of Work

  1. Pingback: The Future of Value Generation – Successful Strategic Innovation in Complex Environments | Transition Consciousness·

  2. Pingback: Setting Out Clearly the Challenge for Web 4.0 Search and Social | Transition Consciousness·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s