Today i kicked off the ‘Community Builder Certification’ programme: it’s the latest of my Social Leadership programmes. It’s a 12 week facilitated online journey based around three elements: IDEAS, which is the underlying research and frameworks, TECHNIQUES, which are practical tools to use in a Community, and running your own EXPERIMENT. As this is a prototype programme, it includes some well developed work (the Social Leadership framework) as well as some completely new thinking (the Community Star work, and the 5 Day Experiments). I would normally expect only around 40% of a prototype programme to make it through to the final version, which means that these first cohorts can be pretty fun and chaotic as we find our way.
I enjoy the Certifications for two reasons: firstly, they are good for my personal discipline, compelling me to take aspects of my work from ‘idea’ into ‘practice’, which is where you really make a difference and secondly because these early cohorts are invariably populated by the most ardent Social Age explorers, which makes them safe and creative spaces for me to fail in (for which i am eternally grateful).
In line with this rather flexible philosophy, i’ve also shared this structure with the group, even though as we start the course, it is still incomplete: the first six weeks are the ‘content’ sessions, and the following five are the ‘experiment’ ones, with the final weeks being our shared learning and legacy. Again, this fluid approach allows me to adapt the shape of the second unit according to how we get on in the first: specifically i think that we may want more time to rehearse and practice the two main tools, so i can add a layer of that into the second phase.
I try to build these as examples of Scaffolded Social Learning in practice, which means that they contain almost no ‘answers’, but rather my role is to draw a thread through the collaborative input of the Community itself. The social co-creation of meaning (built out of both the formal ‘knowledge’ that we put in, and the social experience of the cohort) is very much what Social Learning is all about. Plus: the ‘rehearsal’ is part of the learning, so by graduation, the Explorers have ‘done’ what they learn.
These things are not perfect: some people hate the lack of structure, and sometimes i find i am unable to keep the experience coherent. I am far from the best facilitator, so we end up burrowing down rabbit holes and chasing interesting kites. But then again, what is ‘learning’ if not about curiosity? What you learn may be less important than the fact that one is open to learning: recognising that we do not have all the answers already is part of the humility of Social Leadership.
I will #WorkOutLoud on both the design, and to share the experience, as we go. The second cohort will kick off in May, giving me time to really work the ideas and experience through before then.