The new organizing

The new organizing

(by Fight Club & Lloyd Hotel)

New times demand new insights.

The same goes for me. Therefore, by the end of 2011 I held my own organization up against the light. I did this in two special ways. Firstly, I changed jobs with the marketing manager of Lloyd Hotel and the Cultural Embassy for the period of one day. Secondly, I analysed the film Fight Club, with the objective to gain insight in my own organization. 

The former resulted in the initiative #switchjobsforaday as a spin-off and the latter resulted in a new skill, i.e. video-editing. In addition to the other surprising insights the most important lesson learned was: in particular watch all of your spin-off, it may contain more business than your core business, provided that you direct it perfectly and are able to continuously manage it intuitively.

8 principles of Fight Club

I think Fight Club is not just a good film, but it also provided me with a special insight. In the film, personal dissatisfaction – and a psychiatric disorder – is the basis the start for a national movement. An regardless the fictitious character of the film, I consider it to be a dark metaphor for our current era and the way in which we are able to organize ourselves. The blowing up and collapsing of all corporate buildings symbolizes the cracking of the system and the structures that we are currently living in. And in line with the film I have tried to clarify this metaphor by creating my own short film on this issue.

My 8 applied Fight Club principles – with a wink at the 8 basic rules of Fight Club in the feature film – are the following:

  1. Have a clear core business – in Fight Club (FC) “I want you to hit me as hard as you can“: This sounds simple, but I dare you. There are many organizations that cannot tell it in a Tweet. And if they can do it, they either make it one-dimensional or it becomes too vague. We ought to know, after all it is our profession.
  2. Create a myth as a viral and binding principle – (FC) “we are brought up to believe that one day we can all be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars but we won’t, and we are slowly learning that fact, and we’re very, very pissed off!“: In HR terminology people no longer want a job, but a ‘life changing event’. They expect an organization to offer more than just a salary. A salary they can just as easily earn by themselves as a self-employed professional. Therefore we see a shift from Human Resources Management (HRM) to – Development (HDM).
  3. Use a moral or mythical leader, not a director – [Tyler Durden "[…] I am free in all the ways […]“): Nowadays leadership is a much demanding phenomenon. Someone without charisma and reputation will have no followers and someone with a large reputation and charisma may fall deep. These times ask for authentic leaders, who, at the right time, are able to navigate callously through the turbulent sea of reputation. Natural born leaders instead of deliberately trained leaders.
  4. Do not work with employees. Work with personally committed individuals instead – (FC) “[…] you are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else“: Instead of entering into fixed commitments, people will more and more enter into looser and shorter commitments. Maybe the agreement will also become the other way around; it will not be the employer that offers a contract to the employee, but the effort-provider that offers a contract to the work-provider.
  5. Concrete products are a means, not an objective – (FC) “It was beautiful, we were selling rich women their own fat ass back to them“: Actually, a product is no more than a provider of satisfaction. The same satisfaction could possibly also be provided, not by a concrete product, but by a service or another type of connection. The extension of this connection could result in the organizing of movements or communities. The product could then be the cause of such a connection, a type of banner.
  6. Avoid internal focus – (FC) “Rule number one: you do not talk about Fight Club!”: As soon as your focus is internally oriented, you are not concentrating on your context. Then everything you do will be without any contact with that context. As the context is changing continuously, this is not effective. Your attention will then be on the organization as fixed phenomenon and not on organizing as a continuous process. Organizing must always have an external focus.
  7. Use simple rules and settlement – (FC) “8 rules of Fight Club”: Whereas the seven certainties of the Jumbo Supermarkets provide them with a foundation (see Frankwatching article ‘Jumbo sleutelt aan de kern van het supermarktwezen‘), on the other hand simple rules and settlement can help every organization in the continuous game called organizing.  However, do keep in mind that there cannot be more than eight, after all according to ergonomists that would fit into everyone’s short term memory!
  8. Grow organically by setting up small cells – (FC) “We were finding out that we were not alone“: Already in the nineties, Eckart Windzen had organized BSO in cells. As soon as a cell threatened to become larger than 50, it was split up into two equal cells. The elder group kept the office and the younger one settled geographically at a distance from the other cells. This principle is now also described by the well-known Seth Godin in his book “Tribes”, by the way in combination with attention for natural born leaders.

Organizing 2.0

If I extend these eight principles, then organizations become increasingly more organic. They form themselves and disintegrate. An almost emergent process. Exactly like what is already going on right now, however at a much shorter time scale and therefore more continuously. Thus an organization is more of a community and less of a structure or a (legal) entity. This new organization is not bound to a location nor to objectives. The connection is the organization itself! This is The New Organizing.

Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy

I had the privilege to exchange jobs for one day with Renate Renate Schepen, Marketing & Communication manager of Lloyd Hotel, The Cultural  Embassy and since December 2011 also of the new Hotel The Exchange, that came into existence in collaboration with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. As the new Marketing manager I arrived at 9:00 hrs. on Monday morning, 14 November, and I left at 18:45 hrs. I actively participated in all Monday meetings, responded to all calls and e-mails, discussed the monthly figures, edited the press announcement for the opening of Hotel The Exchange and participated in a meeting with the municipality of Amsterdam. It was an intensive and very enjoyable day! The Lloyd Hotel & the Cultural Embassy are very special. And so are the people. Everyone liked our job switching. It was appreciated.

Much of the above described new organizing I find at the Lloyd Hotel. With them the connection is indeed the organization, or as Renate literally calls it: “our core business may be the hotel, but at the same time much more is happening. We are also working on ‘creating space to connect’”. By being a hotel and letting hotel rooms our revenue is realized, allowing us to develop all sorts of projects via the Cultural Embassy, thus creating connections (between disciplines, people, institutes) and generating spin-off. Maybe the unexpected spin-off could be the most important business of Lloyd Hotel. The question is to what extent one can deliberately steer based on this unintentional spin-off.

Intuitive adhocracy

What in my opinion makes Lloyd at least very innovative, is the fact that apparently they have no fixed structure and that they are fully context driven. In my opinion the Lloyd Hotel is the ultimate context driven organization. Without target groups and without a real strategy. However, definitely with a vision and an internal compass. And the ‘mythical leaders’ Suzanne Oxenaar and Otto Nan are able to decide well and quickly. Therefore I call the ‘intuitive adhocracy’. A theoretical utopian model.

I do wonder if it cannot be more efficient. After all the organization continuously keeps asking for the choice or the input of Suzanne and Otto. A number of people would probably better flourish if they would receive some more direction and a bit more space to isolate themselves and to concentrate, thus allowing them also to contribute well in their own way. In principle everyone can and may do everything, however the result of such a culture is that maybe not everybody is doing so.

The eight principles and Lloyd Hotel

In my opinion the Lloyd Hotel meets the eight principles as follows:

  1. The core business is indeed being a hotel and therefore the letting of hotel rooms, but according to Renate it is more ‘creating space to connect’ or in other words an offering of an environment where playfulness and creativity flourish. Without restrictions and without a fixed structure.
  2. Adventure and openness arouse curiosity. A curiosity that everyone appreciates. For a hotel it is unique to be as open as Lloyd Hotel. At the same you are at home, in a star-hotel as well as looking for all creative surprises and connections that you can embark on.
  3. Otto Nan and Suzanne Oxenaar really are the mythical leaders of the organization. They are definitely not the traditional board members. In particular the feminine, poetic and intuitive elements of Suzanne are pervading the entire organization.
  4. The LLoyd Hotel employees could be considered as part of the Lloyd family. In contrast to the focus on independency everyone has contract for an indefinite period of time, even those in housekeeping, what is often not the case in other hotels. Furthermore, Lloyd Hotel does not do business with agencies and self-employed professional. So there are no flexible commercial or project-based agreements, instead they have none-commercial connections with people and agencies that are also part of the Lloyd family. This now also applies to me!
  5. The product does not only consist of the hotel rooms, it could also have been something else. However, being a hotel does constitute (often unconsciously) the rules. Rules that are challenged by no one because the objective is different from those rules. Thus the rules are followed unconsciously, yet strictly.
  6. In contrast in Lloyd Hotel there is muchattention for everyone as a person. This is not the same as attention for the organization. The inner strength is the starting point (almost zen-like). Because of this focus on inner strength you create space within yourself and you will be open to the outside. In short: external focus because of focus on the internalization of the connection.
  7. In principle the rules themselves are simple, i.e. everything is always possible as long as it has sufficient quality and does not create constraints in the long term. The settlement is similarly simple, everything passes Suzanne and Otto and they always decide quickly based on intuition and internal compass. It would be good if everyone could do so
  8. It is Interesting to see that even during my brief visit Lloyd Hotel already grew organically. The Exchange has been open since early December and differs from Lloyd Hotel, it is not a chain! Some rules of play have been taken over and it is a ‘space to connect’.

The eight principles of Fight Club cannot be copied literally, but there is no doubt that they can be mapped easily on the unique organization that Lloyd Hotel is. The fun part however, was that the discussion on these principles perfectly reflected the differences between Lloyd Hotel and my own organization. I like structures, models and principles, but they are never rigid. They are ways to look at reality, to learn from it and to learn how to direct. This I do continuously and intuitively. In our organization this results in clear rules of play and clear connections. Sometimes however, it also results in exaggerated attention for the structures, models and principles and too little for the intuitive compass. Therefore, the way of working is completely different. This is exactly what made the job-switch so interesting.

Regarding the organizational ambition and management Lloyd Hotel and we are exactly the same: an intuitive adhocracy. However, both much too dependent on management and just too little attention for specific individual ways of managing. We come from the ‘regulations’ part of society, fixed on the belief that one cannot drive a car before one can shift gear. Lloyd Hotel originates from the intuitive part, based on the belief that one can only steer with the right compass and that only after this you select your method of transportation, let alone the selection of  manual or automatic gear shift. To put it negatively: we are pushy and Lloyd Hotel is recalcitrant. Positive is that Lloyd Hotel creates space and we create structure. If at one time that structure becomes rules of play and space is translated into freedom in connection, then both result in playfulness and creativity.

In order to achieve this Lloyd Hotel needs structure, reflection, attention, deepening, recording and concentration. A focus on completion! We have freedom, connection, diversity, letting loose, broken open space and attention for people. A focus on space! Concluding one might therefore say that the New Organizing needs a social foundation, in the shape of connection and internalization of one’s focus. It also needs structures, models and principlesbut never as a definite truth.


Base on Renate’s and my own need to look at our organizations from a different perspective a new initiative was born which I call #switchjobsforaday. It is more than simply switching of jobs, it is an inter-corporate dialogue. Characteristic for the dialogue is that it presents you with new insights that you could not have predicted in advance.

Martijn Arts @arts118

I just checked the press release for Hotel The Exchange. Great that the Damrak will get this unconventional addition #switchjobsforaday

It is important that you switch jobs with someone that one the hand inspires you, but who also is completely different from yourself. And who is in a different context. Next you need to let go of your own context completely and completely immerse in the other. Finally, based on our experiences, we made an analysis of both our company cultures. An analysis that we could not have made prior. Only by experiencing a completely different culture, you become aware of the idiosyncrasies and strengths of your own culture. To take this step in a mutual dialogue may result in a landslide for both corporate identities. Because they move closer to each other or on the contrary by an even stronger realization and use of their own strength. This movement is a continuous moving between one’s own culture and that of the other.

In this aspect this method is comparable to the inter-cultural dialogue as described by Heinz Kimmerle.

“In order to understand the ‘strange’ it is necessary to abandon the ‘own’ and to go to the ‘strange’. For a long time this the most important movement. But, there will come a moment in which one thinks to be able to return to the ‘own’, although in a relative sense, because the ‘own’ never is a pure ‘own’. This return to one’s ‘own’ is a late, but no definite closing phase in the process of understanding the other. It is about a continuous movement of returning as a counterpart of the continuous moving towards the other.” From: Interkulturalitat im Denken Kimmerles


And what is the result of the analysis of Fight Club and the job-switch for my organization? A new direction for 2012. A better understanding of organizing and organizations. More admiration for the film Fight Club and the skills of making a video-trailer. A new initiative #switchjobsforaday under which flag I want to switch jobs for a day at least twice a year. Being part of the Lloyd family and finally: a great new experience!

To find out more about The new organizing , please contact us directly 

Martijn Arts

Managing director, Total Active Media
T +31 20 750 94 25