My work is iterative and evolutionary, developing in response to new thinking, new research, and simply in response to discovering that parts of it are wrong. I share this work and thinking as i go, and this space, on the blog, is my primary #WorkingOutLoud space. Today i am revisiting some of my core work on Social Leadership.
I first published ‘The Social Leadership Guidebook’ in 2014, with a major revision to the second edition in 2017. About 40% of the text was substantially rewritten, and the overall body of work ended up about 20% longer as i added in more work on taking the ideas into practice. Four years later i’ve shared this work all over the world, and developed a substantial new collection of ideas around the context, ‘The Socially Dynamic Organisation’.
Increasingly i see Social Leadership within this broader context: our broader society (context of the Social Age), our structures of social organisation (‘Community Builder Guidebook’ and ‘Trust Guidebook’ etc), our models of Organisational Design (‘Socially Dynamic Organisation’), and mechanisms of effect (‘Social Learning Guidebook’ and ‘Learning Science Guidebook’ [unpublished at this date]).
In this work i often talk about how our legacy structures of understanding- epistemology of knowledge, structure of organisations, philosophy of connection, measurement of value etc – may themselves be outdated. This trap is equally true within my own work: by writing in the verticals of ‘leadership’, ‘learning’, ‘culture’, ‘innovation’, and ‘change’ i may be restricting myself – my thought and effect – artificially.
That’s one reason why my work is all sketched: it’s not simply that i am a mediocre artist so much as that it can be scratched out and redrawn, overlaid, pasted, or traced.
This inherent imperfection in my work is a gift – it provides me with space to re-think and re-do that is often lost if we are trapped in the delusion of perfection – the perfection of ourselves or our thinking.
On the flip side, it’s disorientating when everything is in flux, especially if one retains the notion that there is ever a ‘destination’ or completion to this journey. ‘Knowing’ is not an arbitrary state, not a digital one, but rather a constant flow. So you’d better find a way to enjoy the journey.
The illustration above represents the nine core aspects or ideas of Social Leadership that i used in the model: originally they were clustered into three broader categories (‘narrative’, ‘engagement’, and ‘technology’), but i no longer find those terms useful.
I am currently guiding a group through this Foundations work, and using it as an opportunity to consider, and evolve some of the explanation and thinking around the nine terms. It’s not likely that i will drop one altogether, but some need recontextualising or working: for example, since the original work on ‘Social Capital’, i have come to look in far greater depth at the idea of Social Currencies – so my research and practice has allowed me to add depth, but also to uncover new aspects of ignorance – where are these currencies traded, how, what is the regulation that applies etc.
I will continue to share this work as it evolves, alongside the parallel effort i am making to update and revisit my core work on ‘learning’ itself. I don’t have plans at this stage for a third edition of the Social Leadership Handbook, preferring instead to build out the work on the Socially Dynamic Organisation, as well as the newer ideas around Quiet Leadership and Humility, but beyond 2022, who knows…