Exclusive Communities

Earlier this week i travelled by train, bus and car to visit a friend who lives out in one of the more remote communities. She runs a book club at her church. When she started it three years ago, there were nine members, but now a few have passed away and six remain. She said something that struck me as wise: she felt that it was hard for new people to join the community as the culture within it was so strong. So in May she will stop the group, and reconstitute a new book club in September, so that everyone comes in and feels equal.


Highly coherent communities can become exclusive, not because they are bad, but precisely because their strong internal culture is so successful.

Posted in Community | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Finding Balance

I’ve been delivering sessions throughout this week in Canada, sharing work around Social Leadership, the Socially Dynamic Organisation, and the Landscape of Trust. I’ve been starting each of these sessions with the new images and conversation about Dynamic Tension, and the more I use this, the happier I am with the notion. Our challenge is not to have a dominant formal system, nor an overwhelming social one, but to maintain the dynamic tension between the two.

Dynamic Tension

The formal system can give us strength, can leverage effect at scale, whilst the social system can give us innovation and trust. We need both, but we need an equal balance between the two, and a foundation of fairness and respect.

Posted in Agile | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

#WorkingOutLoud Illustrating Social Leadership: my 1st 100 days book

Whilst travelling in Canada, i’m focussing on illustrations for ‘Social Leadership – my 1st 100 days‘, and made some progress yesterday. Still feeling somewhat daunted: six down, 94 to go… but you only make long journeys in short steps. Today, some early pieces that relate to ‘power’, ‘knowledge’, and ‘community’. I’ll continue to #WorkOutLoud as i complete these, hopefully in the next two weeks!

Social Leadership 100 - knowledge

The new nature of knowledge.

Social Leadership 100 - types of power

Types of power.

Social Leadership 100 - Reputation

Posted in Book | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Illustrating Social Leadership: My 1st 100 days

I find myself in Toronto, illustrating. ‘Social Leadership – my 1st 100 days‘ is my next book, a practical guide to developing skills across a hundred practical activities. As the name implies, it’s going to need 100 illustrations, so i thought it would #WorkOutLoud and share them as i draw them. Today, working around my conference commitments, i’ve done the first one, which is about ‘choosing your space’, part of your foundations.

Social Leadership 100 - illustrations

To put it in context, here is the ‘activity’ from the book itself:

Day 1: Are you content?

Look at the Organisation around you, the Organisation that you work for.

Are you content with what you see?

Is it fair? Is it equal? Is it innovative and successful?

Is it ready to face tomorrow?

Is it adapted to the realities of the Social Age?

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

I would change: [ANSWER]

Ask this questions of someone else: do you have the same answer, or a different one? Across the organisation, would your answers be the same or different? Where is the space to have these conversations? Where is your space to drive change?

Social Leadership 100 days

It worked nicely, sharing all the illustrations as i went, for the Social Leadership Handbook 2nd edition, so i will do the same for this one. Aim is to have the work published on 1st April, so back to the drawing board for me…

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Developing Social Leadership in Organisations: The Book

I’m into the last two days of crowdfunding for my next book: Social Leadership – my 1st 100 days. Regular readers will have seen the content develop as i have been #WorkingOutLoud over the last two months on writing and developing it. It’s a series of one hundred practical activities, typically in the form of conversations or challenges, for individuals and groups, to develop Social Leadership capability.

Social Leadership 100 days

This will be my eighth book, but the first of what may become a series of ‘100 days’ volumes: a strong focus on building practical capability. I like the idea of having the ‘Handbook’ series, exploring the topic in depth, and the ‘100 days’ series, covering practical implementation.

The NET Model of Social Leadership

You can back the book here, or just stay connected to the community, as i will continue to work out loud and share the content as it evolves. The book itself, spiral bound as a workbook, probably eight by five inch format, will land at the end of March. Thanks to everyone who has supported this project so far, either financially, or simply through support within an engaged community, which is, after all, the most important thing you can find in the Social Age.

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Learning Technology Map 2017

I sketch a map of learning technology every year, not to talk about specific systems, but rather trends and direction, as well as reflections on application. Some key points about this year’s map: I retain an overall frustration that much of the industry focuses on features and technology over learning methodology and effectiveness. It’s a weakness of the system, where vendor’s lead conversations to sell product, to a market whose needs are changing, where many in the market don’t yet realise it.

Learning Technology Map 2017

For the first time last year I split the map into light and heavy technologies: the point was to represent how learning is increasingly impacted, out in the real world, by lightweight, pocket -sized technologies. Organisations tend to focus on heavyweight infrastructure technology. I think the Socially Dynamic organisation will maintain a broad ecosystem of technology that utilises both.

Learning Technology Map 2016

Learning Technology Map 2016

The key thing about lightweight technology is that it is rapidly developed, rapidly prototyped, typically cheap, highly interconnected, and most importantly of all, absolutely most importantly of all, it’s rapidly disposable.

This is a core weakness of current organisations: they are exceptionally good at procuring technology that is heavyweight and long lasting, and they do so from a marketplace of vendor’s trying to secure long-term and broad reaching contracts. And yet out in the real world, we are adopting and cycling through rapidly iterating and highly disposable technologies. In a rapidly evolving ecosystem, we need this capability.

Learning Technology Architecture

The person who has just procured a system needs the space and authority to walk in six months later and say, ‘this is no longer fit for purpose, something better has come along that we should prototype’. Few people in any organisation can say this, and yet the most agile and dynamic organisations will do precisely this. This is the challenge of change: constraints are often not imposed upon us from outside, but rather are held in the power structures and ways of being that we have built internally. The very things that made us strong yesterday may make us weak today.

In lightweight technologies I think the big interest is around AI, although what people usually mean is machine learning. True AI, if indeed it’s ever possible, may be decades away, but machine learning is with us now. It has broad potential and will revolutionise many aspects of what we do today. Indeed, if I had to characterise it, I think few people recognise how much of an impact it is already having. One challenge being that much of that impact will come at the cost of current jobs, power, and individual potential. As an entire ecosystem changes, new roles will emerge, and old ones will fall away.

The Future of Technology: innovation and impacts

Much of the early impact of machine learning will be mundane, but it will grind forward and change everything: particularly as we see narrative capability, storytelling capability, where the technology can tease out stories and write them in a compelling manner.

The potential for the geolocation and contextualisation of knowledge and learning is largely untapped: for many types of organisations, from manufacturing to military, there is huge potential here.

Future Tech: Innovation and Impact

Social learning is of great interest, although almost universally I see common mistakes: a belief that technology will drive engagement, when in fact it may do the opposite. In the Landscape of Trust research, the early results show that people trust formal technology much less than we would like to think, possibly 30% less. Technology is a foundation, but an early challenge for organisations will be to build high functioning, highly cohesive, high trust, communities.

The rise of reputation, held within social systems, but impacting into formal ones, is significant, and we are seeing the emergence of technologies that will support this. As with many aspects of technology that sits at the intersection between formal and social systems, we will have to find ways to maintain a dynamic tension between conflicting interests. Annual performance management is outdated, deeply asynchronous, and often misused. Reputation-based, synchronously measured, socially engaged, aspects of performance, measuring support, thanks, kindness, generosity, sense making, support, are deeply relevant. I would encourage any organisation to experiment meaningfully in the area of social reputation, measured with technology.

In an ever noisy world, filtering technologies will come of age. I would be exploring this as it has potential to clear space within the system, to give people the time needed for reflection.

On the heavy side, the LMS and other heavyweight systems remain often unloved, repainted but outdated, and often seeing social as their salvation. Don’t misunderstand me: I think most organisations need a really superb LMS as part of their formal infrastructure. The mistake is to expand the remit of the LMS into other areas, without understanding how those other, predominantly social, areas function.

The Socially Dynamic organisation will have a great LMS, alongside a broad range of other technologies: some highly formal, some highly social, all deeply interconnected. So there may be a heavyweight backbone, but surrounded by, and connected to, this wide range of lightweight and adaptive systems.

Work on badges is widespread and needs to broaden to cater for both formal and socially moderated badges: badges defined and awarded by the community itself.

I’m working more around game dynamics and mechanics at the moment, I suspect we will see the increasing failure of early game systems and approaches that are not based upon robust learning methodology that clearly demonstrates not interactions, but how game dynamics are supporting learning.

Games are another area to explore and experiment, not yet to buy off the shelf.

Finally monitoring: one of the early impacts of machine learning will be the monitoring and utilisation of social chatter within the organisation. As we step into this space, we need to be deeply engaged with and respectful of the community. Indeed we may need an ethics committee. Who owns this content? How was it recognised and rewarded? Tread carefully in social spaces.

I simplified the learning technology map this year: last years had more reflection in it, but in retrospect was somewhat complex when I shared it. We are just at the dawn of the exciting impact of many categories of technology, which will revolutionise learning. There are some great organisations designing and developing these technologies, and some great organisations buying and using them. I would just encourage a fluidity on both sides: for vendor’s to invest more in research and learning science, and for organisations to get better at experimenting, relinquishing control, and earning trust.

Posted in Learning Technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Has Your Back?

Fortunate enough to see Cirque Du Soleil tonight: a troupe of tumblers being a highlight. Nine men, ranging from heavyset to light, each taking their place in the routine. Diversity being a strength, quite literally in this case. One thing struck me: beyond the theatricality, it was clear that each one was carefully monitoring what the others were doing. The two youngest men were being thrown maybe twenty feet into the air, spinning and twisting, and as each came down, landing on the crash mat, it was clear that someone had an arm out, in just the right place, to steady them. It was seamless: you would almost miss it. But the individuals moved as a team.

Change Curve - the Control Effect

Who has your back? It’s good to be a pioneer: a driver of change. But will you always be in balance, will you ever fall? The first people we recruit into our change community should be those who will reach out with a steadying arm.

Posted in Change | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments