NOTE: For the audio, go to the Patreon post.
Today there is another REVEAL for you!
It’s pretty long, and it comes straight out of today’s 3,000+ word session. (Side note: Hitting targets week after week feels so damned good. I’m going to carve me more time on this book while I have holidays and can’t wait!)
Thanks for making this year such an incredible year. Because of you, I have achieved more, creatively, in one year than I have in more than 12 years. If there is one thing I can give you to as a result of my experiment so far, it’s this: If you want to do anything – and I mean anything – don’t use your willpower. Change the structure instead.
EXCERPT FROM THE START OF ACT II
‘Let’s run through what we’re going to get into today.’ John held a pointer aloft and a presentation came to life, beaming onto the wall at an extraordinary size, in perfect clarity.
‘First, an overview of what The Integration Project really is. That’s coming to you from Ellaina, one of our advisory board members. We’ve asked her to do it, as proof that the project really is simple to understand.’ John laughed, as the perfectly tailored, grey-suited, severe-faced Ellaina stood up in mock horror, hands on hips. ‘Just kidding. She has been on this project right since the very first days and has traced it perhaps more carefully than anyone else. She knows it better than anybody else in this room. Thank you,
Ellaina moved to the front of the room and took one of the spare seats that ran at an angle to the left-hand side of the room. They were clearly the chairs for the speakers.
‘Then, you will hear from Dr Shaw.’ John smiled to the left-hand side of the room, and a dapper man in a James Bond suit stepped forwards with a nod and a smile. ‘Dr Shaw will talk to us all about the process of integration. What are the requirements? How does it happen? What’s the impact? He is going to answer all of those questions after we hear from Ellaina.’
Dr Shaw walked smoothly to the front of the room and sat with one leg folded over the other, an expensive watch peeking out from the edge of his cuff.
‘And last but certainly not least, how does the project run? What are its objectives, timeframe, measures, and conclusions? What is the timeline? And what next? All those project-related questions will be addressed by your favourite project manager and Scrum Master, Mark Nimh.’ John raised a hand to indicate Mark, who stood up in the rear corner of the room, and gave an exaggerated bow. He, too, moved to the front of the room and took a seat.
The surprise in the room was palpable. John saw the eyes of nearly everyone else – including Mandy – open as wide as saucers, as it dawned on them just how much knowledge Mark has kept to himself. He laughed.
‘And if you ever wanted to know who is good at keeping a secret, you are looking at him. Nice work, Mark. I think nobody suspected that you had any idea.’
Mark laughed, a ringing, high-pitched giggle. He winked at the group. ‘I’m smarter than I look!’
It broke the tension in the room and got a giggle from the audience in return. Mark sat down at the front, and John turned to the speakers.
‘Thank you, all three, for coming to this amazing kick-off session. I can’t wait to hear from you.’ He lifted the pointer and pressed a button to go to the next slide, which was a picture of a group of happy people in a park; a polished, too-good-to-be-true stock photo from a country somewhere else in the world. ‘And now, I’ll hand over to the first of our speakers.’
Ellaina stood in a singular, fluid motion that seemed to belie her age. She had not one silver hair out of place, her suit appeared to float above her body, and as she faced the audience and began to speak, her expression changed so dramatically that Mandy wondered what on earth she’d done in a past life to deserve such an awful resting bitch face.
And to cap it all off, she had a voice like caramel and a diction worthy of the world’s best finishing schools.
‘Everyone, I am just beside myself that we are in a situation where we are kicking off The Integration Project. For the longest time, I wondered whether or not such an ambitious – some might say, ludicrous – plan was possible. But, as with all unknown unknowns, applying oneself to the problem shows us what is possible or what *might* be possible, and what is out of reach right now, but that might *become* possible if a different something is resolved first. As with life, worthy projects tend go to through a process of unfolding, wouldn’t you agree?’
Ellaina’s now-youthful face appealed to the audience. The nods in the room were sometimes accompanied by chuckles of recognition.
‘You might not realise it, but The Boss wasn’t the originator of this idea,’ she continued, eyes sparkling. ‘It was me.’
Ellaina turned to face the wall briefly, flick through to the correct slide. The slide depicted Ellaina and The Boss sitting in a swanky cafe – one that wasn’t in this town – with a mess of scrawled notes and empty wine glasses beside them. They were both glowing with wine and possibility.
‘I took the idea to The Boss, and we refined it through a series of brainstorming and research sessions.’ She paused an regarded the audience. ‘Even though they looked like we just got drunk, we were actually doing valuable work.’ Ellaina flicked through to the next slide, which contained a video of a series of iterations on a set of Business Model Canvas documents.
‘Has anybody here got any experience with the Business Model Canvas?’
Ellaina appealed to the meeting. One or two hands were raised. She smiled. ‘Great. Then, you will recognise this process. For the rest of you, the Business Model Canvas is a single document that allows you to capture assumptions and facts about your business. Once you’ve captured them, you take them out into the world and test them in your target market for uptake, while learning about whether or not the idea is feasible. As you do this, your canvasses change and adapt. It is a rather experimental process, one in which you see every change you make as simply another experiment. And you experiment your way to success.’
The next slide showed a highly corporate meeting, in which two parties – The Boss and someone else – were shaking hands and looking like pals. In the photograph, Ellaina was sitting in the background, much more like an observer than a participant. She was wearing an outfit identical to the one in which she presented today.
‘The result was the deal of a lifetime. An investment team saw the same possibilities that we did. They granted Hammersmashed its first round of funding, which enabled us to kick off development internally. And at that point,’ she smiled across the room at The Boss, ‘it was brought to you. Do any of you remember that moment?’
Mandy nodded. That was the same day in which they’d had their how-to-run-a-project-like-a-secret-service session. But instead of calling out her agreement, she asked a question.
‘Hi. My name is Mandy. I remember that day. What I want to know is whether the internal secrecy thereafter was a condition of the investment agreement?’
Ellaina gave her an approving smile.
‘Yes. It was. However, even if it wasn’t, we would still have approached this project from the same perspective. Groundbreaking projects require the utmost in kid gloves, as I’m sure you appreciate.’
Mandy wasn’t sure she liked this woman. She looked around the room and noticed that everyone else was wrapped up entirely in the process. Maybe there was something in the food that enabled them to provide their undivided attention to something so damnably mundane. She looked at her watch and grimaced when she realised that hardly any time had passed.
‘Today is the first day in which we are going to give you the details about what this project is all about.’ Ellaina held aloft the same prospectus that Mandy had received when first talking to The Boss. ‘I’m sure you all have one of these in your possession.’ She flicked through it as she spoke. ‘You would have noticed that everything in this document is very high level. It doesn’t actually tell you anything much at all, and it reads like a sales brochure; it’s a pitch document without the detail.’ Ellaina dropped it on the table to her left.
‘What it doesn’t tell you is that The Integration Project is going to merge you with machines. You will be part-human, part machine. Not because you are going to have a big, hulking exoskeleton. Not because you are going to undergo significant surgery to replace parts of your body with machine parts. No, no,’ Ellaina smiled. ‘It is much more subtle. It is a very simple implant. The physical technology has been designed to merge with your body and eventually to dissolve, leaving the patterns and knowledge from the technology permanently merged into your neurology. It will irrevocably change your neurological composition,’ she raised her hand as people started murmuring to each other. ‘Please wait, you will have time to discuss this later.’
Ellaina waited for the muttering to die down, resting bitch face in full effect. She really was very severe when she stopped trying to be engaging.
‘This is incredibly advanced technology. It isn’t like you will forever have a chip inside you that can be tracked or traced in the future. Instead, the technology becomes you, and you become it. So, what is the purpose of such a radical invention?’ Ellaina raised the pointer to the wall and flicked to the next slide. ‘Deep integration.’
She turned and paced the width of the audience.
‘Existing technology integrations are limited. They allow you to complete transactions. To pay bills. To turn things on or off. To enter or exit from doors by controlling locks. To verify that you are who you are. They are very basic RFID technology simply put into a new form.’ She stopped pacing, paused, regarding every person in the room.
‘The Integration Project makes you part of the matrix. You don’t simply use it for transactional effects. You become part of a new model of being. It will connect you not just to the things around you, to the Internet of Things, and won’t just allow you to participate in transactional moments. It will allow you to tap into a broader network that is a human network, connected through the technology, communicating and sharing knowledge in ways of which, until now, humans have merely dreamed. Not only will you be able to do things, you will be able to control things. You will be able to interact with a real Hive Mind for the first time. It means that instead of just being you. You will be you, and you,’ Ellaina pointed to each of the volunteers. ‘And you, and you, and you, and you. You’ll be the first humans deeply connected to each other and the technology that permeates the world. In doing so, we will all learn what we might be capable of.’
Ellaina surveyed the room. It was silent. The implications of this integration were astonishing, and it had hit every single person in the room like a cricket bat.
Mandy didn’t know what to think. She didn’t notice the silence. She didn’t notice the people around her. She didn’t even notice her own mind.
Ellaina looked over at John, who nodded briefly and shattered the silence with his booming voice.
‘Wow!’ He expanded his personality to fill the space, moved towards Ellaina with his hand extended ready to shake hers. ‘That is the most incredible way to put this phenomenal project. Thank you so much.’ He shook her hand and motioned her back to her seat, before appraising the room.
‘Incredible, huh? Not just integrated, but *integrated*. Now, I want to take the opportunity at this point to let you guys know that, knowing the extent of this technology, if you want to exit from the program, and aren’t particularly interested in hearing the rest of today’s presentations, you are most welcome to get up and leave at any time. We would like you to participate in full knowledge and full expectation, and not under duress, after all!’
He paused. Nobody stood up.
‘Ok, great. Well, let’s continue shall we?’ John walked over to the table and picked up the laser pointer, the better to welcome Dr Shaw to the front of the group.
‘Our next speaker is Dr Shaw, who is going to talk to you about how this integration even happens,’ he lifted an arm and extended his hand, palm upwards, towards the dashing practitioner. ‘And even though he looks like James Bond, I have been assured that he is *not* an international man of mystery, just someone with excessively good taste.’
One person at the back of the room giggled, but it sounded like it was out of pity rather than genuine amusement.
Dr Shaw stood up in his creaseless suit and grasped John’s hand in a warm shake, then took the pointer out of John’s other hand before turning him around and pushing him out of sight. Then he hooked one hand in his pocket and shook his head.
‘I don’t know what you guys think, but the dad jokes are really terrible,’ he shook his head. ‘I hope you don’t pay him to say these things?’ His charming smile disarmed the people sitting in the front row, who smiled back and shook their heads.
‘Righto, well I am Dr Shaw, and I am here to tell you that the process of Integration is absurdly simple. Here’s why.’
He flicked to the next slide, which depicted a woman getting an injection in her upper arm.
‘This is all it is.’ Dr Shaw regarded the slide dispassionately, before turning back to the audience. He waved at the slide with the pointer. ‘I’m sure you’ve all had this experience, yes?’
‘What the actual hell,’ someone in the back said.
‘My good sir, that was my *exact* response when I started working on this project. Thank you!’ Dr Shaw called out. He turned off the projector. ‘It is a little bit more complicated than this, but not much. It’s only complicated because we shoot it into your bloodstream, rather than your muscle. So it’s a little more like having blood taken than getting an immunisation booster. Nevertheless, it is absurdly easy. No surgery required. No pre- or after- care required. Nothing. Nada.’
‘Sooo. Why are you here then?’ A woman from the side of the room wondered aloud.
Dr Shaw beamed, his perfect teeth glimmering in the low light of the room.
‘Because the injection is just the beginning.’ He walked over to the table, dragged it out to the front of the room, and perched himself on its edge. ‘You recall what Ellaina said about the technology becoming fused into your neurology? That’s the risky part. That and the risk that the technology doesn’t do what it is designed to do, which is to disintegrated over a period of time. I’m going to tell you exactly what you’re facing – if you decide to continue on this pathway. I’m going to tell you the risks, the processes we have in place to mitigate the risks, and what you will be expected to submit yourself to as one of the guinea pigs in this extraordinary trial.’
TO BE CONTINUED…