Core skills to navigate the Social Age

A premise of the Social Age is change: change in our ecosystem, change in the Social Contract, changes in how we work, learn, communicate and play. The skills we used to navigate the Knowledge Age will not suffice for the Social one.

Core skills for the Social Age

Storytelling is a core skill: the ability to built commonality, so put shape around our intent, to build communities with shared values and purpose. It’s not the type of stories that organisations write, which are often designed to be broadcast to others, but rather it’s co-created and co-owned stories, forged in the fires of discussion in our ‘sense making’ communities. The ways we write our stories is important, but also the ways we share them. We have to understand amplification and momentum, something many organisations fail to grasp.

When we talk about ‘narration‘ being a core skill, we can see this at three levels: building our personal stories of learning and change, building co-created stories within communities and, finally, organisational stories of change. The big difference is that organisations used to own the narrative, whilst in the Social Age, it’s co-owned with the community or even entirely owned by them.

Social Leadership is important, because whilst there is still a role for formal, hierarchical authority, we need to balance it with authority within our communities. Social Authority is based upon our actions over time, our ability to forge strong social ties and add value. That reputation carries with us throughout our careers.

Mosaic of Fairness

We need every conversation to be fair, not just the big ones

There’s a whole island around ‘fairness‘, which i’m charting as the discussion beyond pure ‘diversity‘. Socially responsible organisations, ones that wish to be agile, have to have fairness at the heart of everything they do and say. It’s about every conversation being fair, not just the big ones. To achieve this, there are a constellation of skills: humility in leadership and learning, kindness in action, equalty in thought and communities, diversity being welcomed. Get it right and we can find agility: the ability to create meaning in the moment, to take action outside of process, to discover devolved creativity, unlocked through the spaces and permissions granted by the organisation.

Agility sails through all of this: it’s the core skill for organisations and individuals. In the old world, we codified innovation and creativity into process and systems. In the Social Age, we have to embed agility in everything we do, because the waves of change are constant and out ability to thrive depends not on conquering them or defending ourselves against them, but rather in surfing along on the top.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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