Iceland: Endlessly Flowing Through Forms

The sunset casts a brilliant, low, light across the landscape, smearing silent shadows from my boots across the beach. In my hand, a hundred years, a thousand years, a hundred decades of precipitation, frozen in the form of a diamond, a crystal clear commemoration of precipitation. A rugged chunk of time, a temporal crystal, a frozen saga of storms and silence.

Iceland - Glacial

Iceland is enigmatic: uniformly beautiful, unendingly fractured, utterly captivating. After a long day driving, down roads and gravel tracks, this beach, beside a glacial lake, offers an unexpected surprise in the form of these clear ice boulders, these glacial gems.

Tress set down rings as they grow each year: with ice, it’s more about deposits of rain and ash, successive layers of wisdom, frosted one upon the other, dateable, differentiated, delicate. Most notably, the silent records of eruptions: black layers, imperfections that melt early as they suck the heat from the sun.

Glaciers are neither silent, nor motionless, despite their sedentary reputation, they are an awesome force that simply scales out at a different tempo. They shear and shatter, calve and cave, spewing forth a jumbled field of shattered time that gently drifts to the far shore, finally alighting in it’s last minutes upon the beach. Accelerating towards it’s liquid end.

The water is shockingly cold as i reach in: grasping the slippery ice gives it weight and meaning. I lift it up, watching the light catch, distort, reflect. Other worlds splintered into view as the heat of my hand causes cold rivulets to through my fingers, falling through to my boots below.

Iceland - Glacial

As the sun sets, a fiery red glow suffuses the sky, reflected back at me from ice and water. I turn my back, black rock crunching underfoot as i head for the road. On the beach, i leave behind the history written in ice, sculpted by the wind, a story frozen in time, ending one cycle, starting the next. Endlessly flowing through forms.

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Mutiny! A Matter Of Trust

I spent today prototyping a game around trust: I thought I’d just share a narrative of the experience, is it really got me thinking about how complex trust is within groups. The nature of the game is that it’s played with six people, all of whom are on a pirate ship, some of whom are mutineers. You don’t know at the start how many, if any, of your crew mates are mutineers. All you know, is whether you yourself are (it’s decided when you are dealt a card at the start of the game). I don’t worry too much about the detail of the rules, but rather the experience of playing.

Mutiny - a matter of trust

It turned out in this prototype game that two people were mutineers, and four of us were loyal crew mates. I did not guess who the two mutineers were, indeed, I had a strongly held view, forged over the five rounds of the game, that two other people were guilty.

One thing that was very interesting was how we all, in the discussion phases, picked up on the tiniest details as we scrutinised our crew mates to try to determine who was guilty, and who was innocent. One person was judged guilty because they use the word ‘we’ a lot, and it was felt that they were trying to ingratiate themselves to others. One person was judged guilty because they were quite quiet, and we felt they were trying not to draw attention to themselves.

It was fascinating to see the way that looks were traded, the ways we desperately trying to think of ways to test whether people were loyal, the ways alliances were formed.

Trust is complicated, is not outwardly visible, is easily misread. Playing the game today may be recognised that no matter how much research I do, no matter how carefully we map the Landscape of Trust, trust will always be complex, and we may never know who the mutineers are until it’s too late!

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Intractable Resistance: Frustrated Change

There is a familiar dilemma around change: if we focus on small and manageable projects, it’s easy to define, easy to achieve, but ultimately often fragmented and ineffective when it comes to addressing the wider challenge. But if we focus on the wider picture, the broadest magnitude of change, it falls outside the remit of any manageable programme and often is so daunting as to be almost unmanageable. There is often little sense of a middle ground.

The 16 Resisters of change

Within the Dynamic Change Framework, I try to address this through the 16 resistors, and 16 amplifiers, of change: the intention is to build a diagnostic approach to allow us to segment resistance, a structured way of identifying which parts of the organisation are most Resistant, deeply Constrained, and fully Dynamic. I’m prototyping this diagnostic at the moment, I look forward to sharing some early results soon.

The Change Curve: Losing Momentum in Change

It’s an easily stated truth that change is difficult, but we do nobody any favours if we stick to the easy but ineffective projects, or become paralysed in our consideration of the massive and overarching complex ones. We have to find a way to align the energy of multiple small projects, so that the overall movement generates momentum, momentum within a framework, co-created and co-owned by the community itself. That’s the model of Dynamic change: framed by the organisation, but co-created and co-owned by everybody within the organisation.

Today I’ve been working in an Open Session with a group from the National Health Service in the UK, a session that I will repeat on Friday. This view of change is familiar in this context: the National Health Service is intractably complex, politicised, frustrated, and struggling. Change will not be driven from the top, but neither is it possible to fully change the system from the bottom.

The approach of co-created change that I favour would look instead at how we create the conditions for change to occur, how we build the Socially Dynamic Organisation which is able to change repeatedly, and easily, because its strength is held within its communities, and the deep connection and dynamic tension between the formal and social systems.

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Reputation: A Work In Progress

Reputation sits at the heart of Social Leadership: it’s earned within our communities, through the actions that we take, and, if we earn it well, it acts as the foundation of our Social Authority. But reputation is not carved from stone, it’s not cast in iron. It’s fluid, adaptive, responsive, responsive to our actions. It’s a work in progress.

Social Leadership 100 - Reputation

If we earn a strong reputation, through kindness, fairness, humility, a willingness to do what’s right, not just what’s easy, then, in turn, our community will help us to be more successful. We are stronger because of the support and alignment of our community, not because we use or abuse it, and certainly not simply because of any formal power given to us: formal power does not carry weight in social communities.

So, when we consider our reputation, we should consider how we earn it, and how we maintain it. We should always view it as a work in progress.

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The Landscape of Trust Research: 4%

Last week I launched Phase 1 of the Landscape of Trust research project: this work will run throughout 2017, exploring the nature of trust between individuals, within teams, in organisations, and through technology. It will build out a range of diagnostic tools and practical interventions to help organisations develop high trust networks and hence become more Socially Dynamic.

Landscape of Trust at 4%

In Phase 1 we will build a substantial data set to create diagnostics and support the modelling of the Landscape: this will be done by gathering 1,000 narratives around Trust. These fall at the highest level, explaining ‘What Trust Means To Me’. It then down into subcategories, stories of how Trust is earned, fractured, where it is held, how it fails. So far, in the first few days, i’ve gathered an initial 42, so the job is just over 4% complete.

From these stories, we can use existing Trust measurement techniques, and create new ones, that we will test in Phase 2 later this year.

This is where i need your help: in Phase 1, i am gathering 1,000 open narratives, stories from people like you and me, but also recruiting 20 Research Partner organisations that can run an internal Cohort. Ideally, these will each be of over 100 people. So, if you can spare ten minutes, please take part in the research yourself, but if you think your organisation may be interested to be a Research Partner, get in touch!

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Bonds of Power, Bonds of Trust

The Social bonds within an organisation cross over the formal structure: whilst formal relationships are forged on bonds of power, social ones are founded upon reputation and trust. The Organisation is able to see, own, and control the formal bonds, with the Social often entirely out of site and, most certainly, beyond control. I’ve been working on a couple of illustrations around this, which will probably end up in the book on ‘Change – building the Socially Dynamic Organisation‘, that i aim to complete by the summer.

The Socially Dynamic Organisation - Bonds of Power

It’s important to understand the relationships between Formal and Social systems, to understand how we can build the Socially Dynamic Organisation: it relates directly to the Landscape of Trust research that i have running at the moment, the ways that we support the building of wider networks of trust and reputation, rather than simple, formal, power.

The Socially Dynamic Organisation - Bonds of Trust

The ‘Landscape of Trust‘ is a global research project running through 2017. You can sign up to take part here.

If you enjoy the blog, you can sign up to my weekly Captain’s Log email newsletter here.

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Design Layout: Social Leadership – my 1st 100 Days

I just landed from the flight back from San Francisco, and what better treat to be waiting for me than the design layout for the new book. I hope you’ll forgive a brief post as I’m rather tired, but in the spirit of #WorkingOutLoud, I couldn’t wait to share some of these with you. The book runs across 100 days, and for each day, there is an illustration, a provocation, and some questions or activities to complete.

Social Leadership 100 - Design Scamps

It’s a development journey that follows the nine stages of the NET model of Social Leadership, and is intended to help people gain momentum in the early stages of that journey. Within the next week or two, I will have a launch date, but currently I think it is about six weeks out. Watch this space, but I hope you are as excited about it as I am, seeing my first crowd funded book take shape.

Social Leadership 100 - Design Scamps

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