Harnessing Network Power

There has always been power in numbers, right?  Yet I continue to be amazed by this notion of collaborative outcomes buzz.  This warm glow is shining bright for citizens of the world – we are having our moment.  We are connecting through social spaces, engaging in meaningful projects, initiatives and other community work.  I’m forever grateful to those who have paved the way.

It really does take one seed, from one individual tossed in the air can that can nurture and start new possibilities.  It can ignite a team collaboration, foster culture change or even societal transformation. Yes indeed – we are in the ripe era of harnessing the power of our collective network potential.  It is bursting with flavor like a Mango groove in season.  Which is why this model of Collective Ambition by  Douglas A. Ready and Emily Truelove, is noteworthy to mention.  I hope you find this useful within your efforts, organizations or projects to help with any sense making required for your community efforts.

Community Manners

Etiquette basics such as you’ll find in Miss Manners, Debrett’s and Emily Post apply in online communities also – yet it’s easy to forget about manners when we are saturated in a day to day online community environment, so we thought we could share a few manners we have found most helpful to guide our daily online community lives.

Understand people are different and don’t assume.

Do you like to have your mobile phone beep at you with new status notifications?  How about listening to the noise of a colleague who has sound play for each tweet or instant message that arrives?  The first question is about how you manage your preferences.  The second is about how other’s preferences are important.  Both are part of good manners.  Language is also important – we may think we are being clear when we post a comment on within a community, but often they require clarification, explanation and/or further context.  So, don’t be offended if someone comes across short, unclear or frustrated.  Remember to be understanding, apologize and try to find another way to approach the topic.  So don’t assume that everyone has your experiences, cultural understanding, knowledge or common language – because we don’t.  Do assume positive intent and just invest in deepening meaning and understanding through dialogue and inquiry.

Invite! 

With corporations, individuals may play a role formally, but do have many competencies outside of their current role.  Don’t assume that an individual can’t or won’t contribute simply due to their role, title, etc.  Often times you can miss great contributors if you aren’t trying to assume how and/or what role they play.  Simply extend invitations and offers and allow members to determine where, what or when they will engage with the community.

The old adage that if we build it they will come simply doesn’t work.  We can turn on facebook pages, twitter lists and linked in groups – but that doesn’t mean they will come.  You need to understand your audience first and what is in it for them (WIFM) so that we are building a true ‘community’ where people are connecting over a product, service, business problem, or support issue.  It’s important to be spending time to tend and nurture this community in a non heavy handed way and marketing is NOT equal to community.  If you are approaching the communities as simply the same old marketing materials but in a new medium – that won’t work either, so make sure that you are bringing real conversations that are authentic, open and transparent into the social sphere.

Be honest.

If you don’t have an answer – quickly turn around and use your network within the organization or escalate through your management chain.  The most important thing we can do as knowledge brokers is to find the information quickly and share it back with the requestor and then teach them what we learned.  Was there a broken link?  Then tell them and thank them for highlighting this oversight but tell them you fixed it.  Then share feedback intra organization about this and/or think about how you can influence shoring up any broken processes in the meantime.

Jump in – walk the talk.  You will get more credibility in a commuity if you are active in another networks–don’t limit yourself, consider joining other communities and post interesting research information, good videos and/or other content that isn’t just marketing focused.

by Lauren Klein & Sharon Crost

Top Five for Content Curators

Content Curation Pathways

Know Thy Tags – make sure that you are familiar with the key tags that your key audience is using to tag their content so that you can ensure that your analytics tools are providing you with the dashboard you need to monitor

Perform Health Checks – ensure you are spending time to monitor new content creation, modifications, tags, shares,  likes, dislikes, subscriptions, followers or changes.  In  other words, pattern monitoring.

Monitor Conversations – carve out time every day to scan questions, answers and knowledge sharing within your key product, service, or content areas so that you can dive into them to respond, augment, thank and/or connect to other areas within the tools or discussions.

Tend the Garden Pathway – it’s important that in your cultivation activities you invest time to review pathways so as to ensure that they are meeting the needs of your members.  This includes pulling inappropriate content, cross referencing relevant or simliar content, facilitate safe pathways or simply invest in time to fertilize or foster social learning as needed.  What I mean by that is that it is important to facilitate an answer to the community content,  watch for new content so t hat you can facilitate the conversation, answer, problem, complaint, etc.  Make sure that content is linked to appropriate other objects such as spaces, pages, videos, blogs, etc.

Practice Gratitude – throughout your daily process, you should spend time to pick up the phone, send a message, mail eCards, and regular cards, send gifts, insert video highlights into online photo booth or simply put names on a marquee.  Just make sure you are demonstrating
gratitude and thankfulness.

Focusing on the Patient

Increasing patient care – this is what it’s all about.  Through my work with physicians over the last few years, I’ve come to really experience how this is  in fact their main focus.  Contrary to what you may read, they do really care about their patients.  Good to hear right?  So, what brings me to share my experience, well I’ve just returned from a weeklong conference which inspired me to write this post.

With the on-set of patients utilizing social media to connect and collaborate, many physicians are looking at these tools as a way to connect bridge and assist in efforts to increase patient care.   It’s exciting to see them embrace a new approach to engage with patients.  We patients, we are hungry for information about healthcare, about the best care, who to use, who has experience, how we  can share our stories and experiences as well as receive information on other experiences.

I was so impressed with Herbert Wolfsen, M.D. at the Mayo Clinic, I  co-authored a medical abstract on his experience in developing a Facebook group to support Esophageal cancer patients.  Why you ask?  Well, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and provide insight into the work Dr. Wolfsen has done in supporting this important group.  Because patients in this group face distinctive issues, it is important for them to connect with each other to share experiences.  The Facebook group is fostering the member’s needs to not only connect with the doctor himself, but with other patients with interest in this area.  This could allow them to have social learning beyond any F2F discussion’s they may have had in the past and continue the dialogue, but through an online venue even richer since it was a larger group.  Overall, I find it encouraging to see such physicians branching out of the hospital and utilizing online tools to enable connections in modern means that engage, support and educate patients.

By Michelle Groff Burling

Social Artistry – Linking the Unlinkable

In a meeting in San Francisco with Etienne Wenger in 2008, we were discussing the critical role of a weaver in the field of Communities.  It is more commonly known as a community manager.  Etienne described this ‘community weaver’ as someone who is a Social Artist.  This was the first time I had heard this term, yet when he described what he meant, I felt validated in the work that I’ve been doing for years. Being a weaver, or what Richad Koch calls, a SuperConnector.

Recently a former colleague was mentioning that they missed my role in the community.  She was lamenting the fact that I’d rolled off that closed community project as I was invited into a new community project.  What she was described to me in great detail in terms of the void that I
left in the community was that of the Social Artist role.  This is why I’m writing this blog post, to help provide more visibility and credibility to this capability as it’s not yet mainstream and therefore something that CEOs and other Executives don’t value within their organizations.

Wikipedia describes it as a technique, “Social Artistry, [6] represents a new model for leadership. Houston, working through the United Nations Development Group, has been training leaders through this modality since 2003. Under the direction
of Monica Sharma, [7]then Director of Leadership and Capacity Development for the UN, Houston traveled to developing nations throughout the world bringing Social Artistry techniques to leadership groups. As of 2011, Social Artistry  trainings and projects are ongoing in a number of countries and new leaders are being trained on a constant basis. This work is supported through The Jean Houston Foundation.”

Puzzle Pieces Cory Doctorow from London, UK

Social Artistry is a leadership skill where someone provides the glue and holds the entire community or network together.  They have an innate ability to see strange divergent connections between disparate concepts together via culture, human beings, and notions of progress and development.  They link the unlinkable.   They foster a feeling of connectedness despite the divergence and most importantly they communicate openly and authentically.    They make what could feel like a fragmented bunch of networks, instead the sense a community has is one similar to that of a puzzle that was recently completed, when you as a member visualize that last single piece snapping into place, which resonates
with your interpretation of that image. It just fits.

Got a Community tattoo, notch or mark?

Last week I attended #JW11 and got to thinking about my personal ‘notch’ metaphorically speaking for a community leather belt.  When you are amongst amazing talent in your colleagues at a conference, it is infectious and one can start to feed off the energy in the room, which I did.  At the
same time, it was an opportunity to reflect on my personal mark in my professional field of Community Building as I had the opportunity to meet
people that I’d not yet had the honor to meet in this field.  Therefore, I challenge each of us as community weavers or managers to think about our legacies, our tattoos, notches or marks that we desire in our community lives.  Is it an adoption rate, a culture shift, a new technology, or new idea?  It’s a very personal manner how one defines their personal mission statement or their approach to the shiny quarter.  Which is why I implore that each of us in our field spends some time quarterly to reflect on our approaches in communication, technology and stewardship?

Lastly, I was relieved when I reviewed the definition of community in Wikipedia, since the sociologists are also confused on the term, Community, as it means something to everyone in a different way.   “In sociology, the concept of community has led to significant debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of the term. There were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s.[1]

Watch for Women

Looking for a great podcast on Global Talent, look no further as HBR has one featuring: Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid of the Center for Work-Life Policy. These are authentic women sharing their research.  In fact,  their candor in discussing the growing achievement gap, developing markets and the blank slate phenomena was inspiring.  When you think about your organizational talent pool globally, or your recruitment programs, it’s no wonder you are left scratching your head when you think about legacy models that aren’t working to keep ambitious and committed women at large organizations.  It’s a must listen, reflect and learn.

Many of us are highly committed, ambitious and entrepreneurial in nature.  We seek meaningful work that allows us to unleash our gifts all the  while contributing to our local, global and physical communities.   We desire work that allows us to fly.

So thank you, to all the women in my positive conspiracies of change (deceased and/or alive) –as you have been and continue to be my mentors. I’ve forever grateful.  Don’t fret, I am too investing paying it forward through my circles of influence and look forward to continuing to build these bridges and opening these doors for generations to come.

Community Valor

MerriamWebster’s defines valor as, “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness: personal bravery.”  Whether you are working with an organization or an individual on their personal behavior or knowledge blind spots, you should come to the table prepared with your valor, so as to be prepared for backlash or other fears, which is outlined nicely in the Align Consulting presentation.

I was speaking with a KM Leader recently for a billion dollar company about how his Communities budget was cut and how it’s going to be a challenge to embed in this critical collaborative program into the day to day lives of individuals given the current economic environment
as well as the time that individuals have to invest in realizing business goals.  I coached him to be resilient and speak with others in the field about their programs on the cheap and what has worked for them, as we have all been through difficult economic times within  organizations and it often helps to talk with others in the same space.  But more than anything I’ve found that it requires deep focus on the business outcomes and clarity of mind to allow you to not get discouraged yet channel your passion and energy into a more positive manner that allows you to be brave, while taking risks and weathering the storm.    During times like these that I find solace in professional network as they provide much needed fuel for standing firm with valor. These can take different forms for different individuals- but indeed it’s the journey that is the most important and I’ve personally found that VALOR is a word that I wear with pride, like a flag, it a  symbol, a reminder to focus on the future with hope and possibilities.

Redefining the “People” Experience

Transparency, Trust and Authentic Communications are keys to the kingdom.  This was my take away with conversations that I’ve had with, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for the Disney/ABC Television Group (DATG) is that Steve Milovich is focused on refining the employee experience, from improving professional development, to growing strong capable leaders, and strengthening collaboration across DATG and The Walt Disney Company. The path to success, according to the DATG HR leader, “will be inspired in part by Disney/ABC’s achievements in connecting with and engaging consumers.“  Steve further states that, “This notion of collaborative approaches within the ecosystem of organizations is main stream in large organizations, which is exciting for those of us who understand that networks exist today.  There are collaborative people who are brokering informative actively today that we can help organizations really fly.  Sharing and transparency will help to broker and connect employees, partners, customers or prospects and lead to innovation and new product and service development.”

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to meet someone that is such a progressive leader within a world class organization that truly understands the importance of an
open and dynamic organizations – he truly is an example of the #futureofhr.

In fact recently during a conversation with Jay Galbraith, he reminded members at Executive Networks the importance of implementing an organization that builds alignment using his methodology of the star, which emphasizes strategy, structure, process, rewards and people.  He has found in his work over the years that good matrix organizational structures have strong networks and emphasize social capital.  They not only reward but also recruit the best people.

Overall, the trend line continues to emphasize the importance of authentic people who can help communities, organizations and families realize new heights.  We continue to have opportunities abound and I do hope you will join this important effort of “people” whether they are on during offsites at a luxury hotel, canvassaing for an election or within an organization.

Energy Cycles and Leadership

How does energy cycle and leadership go together?  Well during a knowledge share presentation with Executive Networks Global Talent Leadership and Kenneth Thomas the group was inspired by the research and work he has done around Intrinsic Rewards.  Kenneth is sharing his thinking around Intrinsic Rewards to drive Work Engagement, which are “Psychological rewards(positive feelings)  you get from doing your work well.” Also, they operate on an emotional level to keep you energized.  In fact, the group discussed how much of the new work cannot be automated or off shored.  The new work is more complex and non routine based, which requires judgment and creativity.  It’s high value
add and has a great deal of pride involved with it.   In fact, according to the Corporate Leadership Council, Emotional engagement (intrinsic motivation) is four times more powerful than rational engagement (extrinsic motivation) in driving employee effort.

Many of our Executives are finding this type of conversation extremely relevant to fire up the talent engine for all demographics.  This notion of creating a talent engine burning is critical to successful business today.  Recently I spoke with Robert Richman, Zappos Insight Product Manager who shared with me innovative programs and thinking around how they are engaging employees.  It’s something that we think seriously about as we look at remuneration programs, succession and talent programs across organizations.

Michael Tirrell contributed to this post.

NOTES / SOURCES

The Work Engagement Profile in the CPP has four dimensions:  Choice, Competence, Meaningfulness & Progress.

Source: Corporate Leadership Council (2004), “Driving Performance and Retention through Employee Engagement.”

Source: Adapted from Kenneth W. Thomas and Walter G. Tymon, Jr., Work Engagement Profile, copyright 2009 by CPP, Inc.