A Forest of Social Leaders

A forest is defined as much by the space as it is the trees: it’s an ecosystem, with every part in balance with the whole. As a system, it’s constantly in motion, from the wind that sways the branches of the trees, to the beetles scuttling around in the leafmould, from the rain falling through the canopy, to the network of roots spreading deep underground.

A Forest of Social Leaders

Last week was a writing week: i worked on the manuscript of the ‘Change Handbook’, which immersed me in thinking about Organisations as systems, interconnected, and in various states of health. The hierarchy of the organisation provides a structure, defines a space, but it’s the social system that gives us the rich strength. In the context of the Social Age, our role is more one of ecosystem management than facilities management, so an understanding of how the forest is made is valuable.

Two weeks ago i shared the notion of ‘Social Leadership Trees’, a loose metaphor for the Organisational ecosystem: with the idea that each of us stand as trees in the landscape, each different, each a connected part of a wider, complex, ecosystem. The formal organisation gives us boundaries and structure, but the social ecosystem is more organic, constantly in motion.

Some trees are tall, some young, short, but each is subject to the same ecosystem pressure: if we take too much out, if we poison the water, or pollute the air, we all suffer. Similarly, whilst the individual contribution of one person may not be great, each person does contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem and, crucially, to the vista of the forest.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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10 Responses to A Forest of Social Leaders

  1. tutormentor1 says:

    Finding ways to motivate people in organizations to connect with each other, and with people in other organizations (the forest) is a huge challenge due to lack of time, technology and learning habits. Here’s a concept map I created to show the more than 2000 links in the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC web library. http://tinyurl.com/TMI-libraryFull

    I organize the library in sections which in your graphic would be “trees” in the forest (ecosystem) of people who need to be connecting, learning and building relationships with each other in order to overcome challenges and build systems of support that last longer and have greater impact and benefit to all involved.

    I’ve posted comments like this on your blog in the past. I’d love to find some web sites and/or blog articles where someone has used your graphics, but embedded links in each element, pointing to web sites and libraries where information related to each node (tree) is being collected and shared.

    That would take the fantastic theoretical and abstract ideas you share and show them in real world application.

    Is anyone doing this?

  2. Have you heard the Radiolab podcast about how trees communicate? I thought you’d be interested if you haven’t:



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