On Authenticity and Smashing Capitalism: Learnings from DotYork 2017 - Joi Polloi

It’s great to get out of the office for a day of creativity and inspiration especially if that can be found (nearly) on your doorstep.

I made the short journey up to York with my colleagues Karen and Dale to attend the DotYork conference. Though it’s been running for a few years this was our first visit.

Ian Worley inspires us to shoot for the moon, rather than be dragged into the poo

There were a whopping 16 speakers on the bill over 4 sessions which meant short-ish talks. There were definitely some speakers you were left wanting to hear more from.

One of the talks I found most memorable was Hannah Nicklin, a freelance game writer and designer, who took a very distinctive approach to tell us about Klondike, a French video game collective.

Presenting the Klondike Collective

The Dummy’s Guide to presenting tells you never to just read from a script. Citing that her talents lay in writing rather than public speaking, she did a wonderful performance of her poetic and passionate description of the collective’s story and philosophy, which counterpointed sound business advice with passionate calls to destroy capitalism.

DESTROY CAPITALISM says Hannah Nicklin (except for buying a copy of her book)

It was interesting and inspiring to lay out the varying definitions of a “collective”, and its connotations, and implied values over calling yourself a commercial company. Ultimately this comes down to having a strong sense of the purpose and values both of the organisation, and the things that it produces.

She described how their only rule is that there are no rules about what they can and can’t produce. Not being constrained by a house style, or institutional “wisdom”.

Particularly interesting was how they are a fixed sized, closed membership organisation — giving the feeling of a special, elite club that not everyone will achieve entry to.

What we brought back

Many of the ideas Hannah expressed in the talk seemed very relevant to our work here at Joi Polloi, reflecting some of the values we attempt to apply to our business and work.

The idea of the collective, with non-hierarchical structures is, in some ways, the default for any small business, but as we have grown, we have attempted to cultivate a culture of genuine co-operation across the company while still retaining individuals’ responsibility for creative ownership and quality. We have no desire to grow to be a huge, corporate bohemoth, if it means compromising these values.

Similarly being tied into a formulaic way of working, or a rigid house style is never something we have aimed for.

And while we can’t claim to be actively smashing capitalism, it’s always good to be reminded that doing things in your own, authentic way always wins — whether that’s structuring your business, in your creative work, or in how you present to conferences.