This is the eighth in a series of articles exploring the new Map of the Social Age for 2019. Today, i’m considering ‘Interconnectivity’, something that has emerged as a new, and powerful, notion within my own work over the last 12 months.
When i talk about a more Socially Dynamic Organisation, i use the term to describe a future state: the Domain based Organisations of the past carry a phenomenal codified strength, but struggle to change, whilst a Socially Dynamic one will carry a different type of DNA within it. It will thrive in constant change, because it is engineered to be lightweight, scaffolded, and reconfigurable to need. And part of that scaffolding will lie in the ways that it is interconnected, at scale.
The formal structure of our Organisations are clear: teams, divisions, domains, all regulated by formal power, consequence, and communication, but the social structure differs in key ways. The predominant level of social organisation is tribal: smaller collections of people, bonded by trust, pride, respect, often local to each other, or able to claim private space to engage in those rituals of sharing, gifting, exchanging, that help the social structure to bond. A global Organisation is made up of many different, overlapping, tribal layers.
When we shape our views, share our stories, reach out to influence, we do that within our known tribes and communities, as well as crossing over into unknown ones, but the way that those stories land will differ according to the space. Within communities of consensus, it may be welcomed, whilst in communities of dissent, it will be opposed.
One dimension of this is well understood: echo chambers, a confirmation bias effect whereby views are self referentially reinforced, although generally it’s used in a derogatory term for a view or community that we wish to diminish. The reality is that virtually all of our knowledge and understanding of the world is held in self referential constructs, piled one on top of the other. There is a reason we do this: because unity of the group is important. Because we fear being outcast. Because a moderated view, where we silence dissent in favour of conformity and membership, is the way that we keep our social structures together. We can differ in some ways, but not in every way. Pragmatism is both a toxic force (when we tolerate toxic behaviour) and a binding one (when we silence minor differences, in service of greater unity).
Membership of a group requires conformity, and the silencing of vocal dissent.
Stories, knowledge, influence, all flow most easily within established tribes, coherent communities, but as Social Leaders, we have a responsibility to hear weak voices within the system, to connect up between spaces. To interconnect.
The context of the Social Age facilitates connection at scale, but possibly through the radical scaling of existing bias and imbalance. The role of Social Leaders is to connect diagonally, across the fault lines.
To do so requires connection, to find the voice, and humility, to truly listen.
Interconnection is not about stronger connections between known structures, but rather it’s about diversified connections between often poorly understood or even hidden ones.
And it’s not just within Organisations: a key feature of interconnectivity in our understanding of the context of the Social Age, is to understand how people may become interconnected outside of any formal Organisation at all. It’s easier than ever to find like minded people around the world, and to create new communities, hidden from any formal power.
The Social Age is a time or radical connectivity, in terms of volume, but our challenge is to interconnect, to made meaningful connections in terms of depth. Not just how many, but how good.
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