4 Questions with Osvaldo Danzi, Founder, FiordiRisorse


Osvaldo Danzi  FiordiRisorse

“I put human before resources because only flipping perspectives we can change the ending – Persons' and stories'.”

[Translation note: in Italian, we'd say Resources Human. But even when we say HR in English, we still mean to focus on the resource part, not the human.]

The word itself means the best of resources, la crème de la crème, if you will. FiordiRisorse is what would happen if trade associations were able to follow the questions, rather than be all too eager to give fast answers.

Because we're living at a time of great change, and the people who're doing something interesting and original are too busy doing the work to speak at events. Or if they do, it's at great sacrifice to their practice, with a willingness to open themselves to potential misunderstandings. Because creators minds have more words.

Which is where groups like FiordiRisorse (FdR) come in to provide an alternative platform – a safe space to get involved. In Italian, we appropriately say, mettersi in gioco, because our reputation and credibility are in play. Though, I may add, we play to stay in the game, rather than to win. And that's an element of cultural style I embrace.

As is the case with so much in life, we can learn from anyone we meet if we know how to observe. I've been observing Osvaldo Danzi, the founder of FdR, through content and conversation via LinkedIn ever since someone in my network shared precious word of mouth about a publication he shared.

Zafferano was the news site and its author (this is an improvised reference to a famous expression in Paolo and Francesca's chant in Dante's Inferno.) I was hooked. 

I was curious about how you'd set up a business community in Italy. And it turns out not differently from how you'd set up one in the U.S., as I did and managed between 1999-2007. Yet, when you look under the hood to context, that's when things get interesting.

It's a different time and place. Accelerated change, too. But as I'm reminded often, “technology changes, people don't.”# Or rather, Persons, uppercase, as Osvaldo says.

Q: FiordiRisorse is a management ideas incubator and Business Community for pure networking with Uppercase People (Persone Maiuscole), offline. I love how it’s organized as a system of tools to practice ideas. Tell me more about how it came to be, who’s part of it, the purpose.

Osvaldo: FiordiRisorse (FdR) was born as a Linkedin group in 2008. The idea I had was to create an HR community that would make culture in the human resources area in the regions of Central Italy. Unlike Milan and other big cities, these regions have fewer opportunities to compare notes, and thus are less oriented to the exchange of ideas and opportunities sharing.

In reality, it was enough to have a first spontaneous meeting between members of in Tuscany (at that time the group was only open to Tuscany and Emilia) to understand that there was a greater need to cross-pollinate ALL areas of management. Thus, I decided to extend the invitation to join FiordiRisorse to all the people whose company role was managerial.

At the time, I organized two meetings with subscribers to introduce FdR and explain what I had in mind: a community of Persons who offered content and skills for the benefit of others. I wanted to create a physical network between people who could get to know each other through FdR and find ways to collaborate. Without a commercial or marketing end: it was all free, yet highly selective and curated.

More than 300 people attended the first two meetings. Then IKEA's personnel manager offered to host a FiordiRisorse meeting inside the store. That's when we realized that this was the ideal place for FdR meetings: companies.

From 2008 to today, we have organized more than 200 meetings in major Italian companies. We've involved extraordinary speakers, managers, scientists, philosophers, and authors who resonated with a countercultural vision vs. the mainstream themes espoused by large trade associations.

Today FdR has more than 6,000 followers and organizes meetings in all major Italian regions.

Q: How did you go about developing the idea and the tools?

Osvaldo: I did it working with Persons. In the beginning it was a voluntary collaboration: someone knew how to build websites and applications, someone else had technical skills, knew certain speakers, or make their company available for hosting, another person shared contacts…

Naturally this was the heart of the FdR philosophy: to get to know people through their craft or their relational competence. It's clear that as professionals, they had the opportunity to “showcase” their skills and make themselves known through what they could do.

Q: What surprised you, so far, and what delighted you?

Osvaldo: I continue to be saddened by observing that there are still people who believe their success depends on lobbying and traditional trade associations and not the other way around. Competent Persons with skills and abilities don't need that kind of network, too often driven by politics and the self-serving interests of those who run them.

It saddens me to see Persons with great talent who get no support and motivation in their companies. I'm surprised to see how generously those same people generate energy, ideas and share knowledge in FiordiRisorse. I'm surprised to see how little curiosity the business world generates and how much curiosity individuals have when they leave the company and have the opportunity to express themselves and generate culture.

Q: You seem to have the finger on the pulse of new, sustainable, models, what’s next for business?

Osvaldo: As an example of what I've said above, you might have seen recently dozens of posts on Linkedin of companies that are boasting of having replaced plastic bottles with steel water bottles. Here it is.

For companies (Human Resources in particular) this action communicates a high degree of sustainability. This is the maximum they've been able to generate. Companies that fail to understand how sustainability first needs a new managerial vocabulary. “Leadership,” for example, “smart working,” “diversity,” are all words that are a problem for previous generations of managers.

A single generational change will be enough to make a clean sweep of what we consider “problems” today. “New workers” will be naturally accustomed not to see gender differences. The idea of working chained to a desk for 10 hours a day won't even hit the antechamber of their brain. Nor they will think about managing their companies through command and control.

But here we are, still getting some corporate zombie to organize hundreds of conferences on topics that are already dead.

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“I'm an explorer,” says Osvaldo. “My job is to find the most suitable characters to stories that are always different.”

Compare these words with how we typically talk about recruitment. Headhunting comes to mind, the practice of taking and preserving a person's head after killing the person. Forget uppercase. If we want a different ending, we need a new beginning, not just a new story.

Next week we'll talk to someone who knows more than a thing or two about how to use words strategically.

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