First week of the year and i’ve been working on a new model, looking at pressures on Organisational Culture. Last year i defined the Social Age: a mindset and way of working where the primary relationship is between us and our communities, not employer/employee. In the Social Age, our communities are where we build reputation and that reputation is what generates our authority. In the Social Age, meaning is created in the moment: an agile approach. It’s the best of the old, with the best of the new, facilitated by technology and the evolving social contract between organisations and individuals, where the four walls of the office exist only in our minds.
Which is why the initial ideas around the CAIR model are only half formed: the blog is the first iterative space of my thinking, the first point where ideas are exposed to the support and challenge of community, and the first chance i have to consolidate and reflect on my thinking.
Another Social Age trait is that of #WorkingOutLoud. Talking about what you’re doing: so today i’m reflecting on the process so far. My own Social Learning experience as i try to create meaning.
For the last three years, i’ve spent a third of my time writing. I’ve written the blog every day and consolidated that thinking into five books of varying lengths. This year, i’m aiming to spend nearer half my time on writing. That’s the background to this weeks activities.
I’ve been trying to conduct more primary research, read more widely and build better models, diagnostics and frameworks, as a way of letting people take the sometimes ephemeral ideas and do something practical with them. But it’s hard to get these things right without piloting them, revising and refining them and getting feedback. Hence sharing them early.
When i wrote ‘Mindset for mobile learning‘, i took myself away for a couple of weeks and wrote full time every day. I shared around half the writing directly to the blog. Under an old model of publishing, commercial suicide, but the end result was stronger for it. Exposing ideas early lets you broaden your perspective and develop your ideas. The weak ones fall by the wayside whilst (hopefully) the stronger survive and are developed further. This week i published the initial, longer, article on Organisational Culture and had feedback from Robin, relating to how trust can be strong within teams, but can fracture more widely. That led to the second article around ‘Rifts in trust‘, developing out that area.
Yesterday i met someone who talked about “an organisation of 10,000 people, all of whom were lovely individually, but the whole culture was toxic“. That informed yesterday’s diagnostic questions, with a strong focus on internal pressures (where our personal decisions are hard to make without compromising one dimension or other of our personal beliefs).
I’ve had feedback in the Learning Forum from Nigel, who says “Not sure that the CAIR model works to explain the crisis in trust: it merely elaborates on the power and extend of culture and its impact on trust“. Good point. I am still reflecting on this, but will engage back in the Forum later today, to address this and the feedback from Bill.
The Learning Forum, with it’s 350 or so members is a private space, but other feedback has happened in the public sphere: Chris came back last night with a lengthy piece of analysis, which i need to work through. “I really appreciate the challenge you have set yourself and you have many valuable ingredients here but I am not yet comfortable with the model or some of the assumptions around it. So I offer my thoughts and reactions to help move things forward“. The types of feedback we receive in social learning spaces vary: here is a challenge, but it’s a challenge that will add rigour to my thinking.
Chris is someone whose views i respect greatly (in Social Age terms, his reputation is high, based on my experience of his interactions in various learning communities and, not least, his approach to sharing wisely, with context). This respect and reputation makes it easier for me to listen to what he has to say. Humility is a core trait of the NET Social Leadership model: in the Social Age, we don’t need to know more than other people, but we do need to be willing to listen and learn together.
Whilst i know Chris in person, John came back with this: “Trust is certainly critical to a positive productive culture. Maybe equally as important is a “unity of purpose”. How would or should that fit into your CAIR model?” A good point, which, again, i will incorporate as i develop my thinking further. I can’t quite remember where John and I connected (through Twitter or LinkedIn?), but every now and then he comments broadens the strength of my immediate network, even though we haven’t (yet) met in person.
As well as this direct input, there has been widespread sharing through LinkedIn and Twitter, which helps expose ideas further and generate new ideas.
Sharing isn’t always easy: nobody wants to look like a fool, and the first iterative space of the blog is a risky space. These are not ideas that are worked up for final publication: they are works in progress. But you can see that in just three days i’ve been able to draw upon and benefit from global expertise and support. Lucky me!
John Stepper is a great proponent of #WorkingOutLoud, every saturday his latest blog post lands in my email and is one of the very few posts i read every time. If we are brave enough to trip now and then, brave enough to fail, we can produce some of our very best work.