This is the final blog post of 2021: in this, my primary reflective space, i’ve written around 50,000 words this year, and shared about 180 illustrations, all as part of #WorkingOutLoud. In 2021 i have deliberately given myself more freedom to roam: to revisit things that i used to feel certain about (learning, leadership, culture) and to discover some new aspects to explore in greater detail (belief, social currencies, failure, future of work, and experimentation).
That total is less than most years (the average for the last seven years is around 68,000 words), but mainly that’s because i took time out for paternity leave, and also when i caught Covid.
It’s also fair to say that it’s been reasonably challenging: whilst we have been very fortunate and grateful for the arrival of our beautiful daughter, the pregnancy was challenging and we carried a great deal of worry through it, all of which impacted on my energy and ability to write. More generally, as for so many people, i have found working fully remote to be both liberating and challenging.
Pre-Pandemic i typically would spend 36 weeks a year on the road, and i think over the last seven years have shared this work in over fifty different countries. In 2021 i have visited none, and delivered no face to face sessions at all.
There’s also been a shift in the virtual sessions i deliver: whilst face to face tends to be day or multi day events, my sessions have tended to be shorter, often programmatic across multiple weeks.
The main change i’ve made in my publishing work is to add ‘Social Leadership Daily’ into the mix, three months ago. This is still experimental, but whilst the blog is a diverse and reflective space, carrying me from reflections about democracy to nerdy work on learning science, the Daily space is a practitioner one. Sixty seconds a day of questions, activity and reflection. I’ve just hit 300 subscribers on Substack, but slightly to my surprise the main engagement has been on LinkedIn, where it’s driven significant community growth already.
In terms of Open Events, the focus this year has been Quiet Leadership: over a dozen cohorts have explored this space, all as part of the four week free programme, and hundreds of people have taken part in the global research that accompanies it. In some ways this is small scale work, about leadership in the smallest of actions, but perhaps because of this it feels quite accessible for people, and the feedback has been really lovely. I intend to scale this work out in 2022 to offer 5,000 free spaces throughout the year.
Whilst in some ways Quiet Leadership, and Social Leadership Daily are intended to be very open and accessible, some of the most interesting work has been here on the blog, which remains my most challenging space, as i try to find out what i think in new areas.
I’ve spent a lot of time, and iterated much language, thinking about systems, boundaries, and mechanisms of engagement, as well as ‘the work of place’, which considers how we belong, are effective, are connected. At times this work has been hard, and i’ve felt lost in it. At times i’ve been acutely aware of the naivety of my own language and understanding. But that is the point of these spaces.
I feel very fortunate: in 2021 i have been able to work in a global community of collaborators and explorers that has grown very significantly: tens of thousands of people, many of whom are willing to share their challenge and support! It’s always challenging to articulate exactly how a ‘community’ helps one find energy, but at a simple level it allows one to feel that we are heading at least vaguely in the right direction.
My focus in 2022 covers a range of projects: Q1 will see ‘The Quiet Leadership Guidebook’ and ‘The Humble Leader’ books released, Q2 should see ‘The Social Age Guidebook’, as well as core research around ‘The Experimental Organisation’. Q3 i hope to publish around ‘The Work of Place’. There are some other floating projects: ‘Learning – Fragments’ is a substantial body of core work around Learning that i am considering how to share. It won’t be a traditional book. And ‘Radical Interpretations’ is a magazine series that i am considering, working with multiple collaborators.
If you enjoy this work, please do consider sharing it, and i hope you all have a great break.