Today's leaders recognize that sustainability in the Age of Network is the priority, and that leading for successful outcomes requires that leaders know how to circulate between core groups and social networks to be change responsive. John A. Byrne has described these networks as leaderless, constructed of multi-expert self-selecting teams of people who work in scenarios of high trust. (About Leaderless Networks)
In the US, job dissatisfaction is at an all time high. This is a generalized summation of how workers feel. The continually increase in financial uncertainty, continuous challenge of job insecurity and the rising cost of health and education exceeds what most people can afford. More people are being thrust into jobs that do not pay sustainable wages that permit them to live close to their jobs.
The need for change has grown into a very large voice that is shifting the entire way we work in industry, government and community. While some perceive the change is not happening rapidly enough, there is much a lot of good change emerging through grassroots initiative that do not get reported in mainstream press.
WorkEcology is a social network of people who facilitate, research and report on changes growing out of thoughtful people who have come out of the isolated homes and virtual cottages to join others to shape a new perspective and act on this perspective. Practitioners and researchers in our community are teaching new methods of working to core groups that are shifting out of forms of work that were based on tightly controlled hierarchies that operated from a very limited perspective.
Citizens, who "listen to act", while working as a member of a core group or social network is the new leadership practice. It is the only way leaders and citizens can join together to design activities and actions that consider a broad spectrum of stakeholders that influence or are involved when as leaders you work with others to respond to continuous change. It is the only way in which individuals and groups can learn to ride the wave of change thoughtfully with others to make a difference.
If you think it is possible for people to work, learn and sustain their health and remain vital members of the workforce, take the time to acquaint yourself with WorkEcology's Thought Leadership.
If you would like to know more about how groups of people can and are working more effectively together, read on··..
Beginning in 1996, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton identified a "knowing doing gap" through literature and action research that they summarized in their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action
The Ecommerce bubble burst at the end of the 90's created a pattern of burgeoning amounts of information. This burst has proven to be a clear indicator that information does not necessarily imply change and action. As was the case with Pfeffer and Sutton's research, no amount of knowing implies people can work together to foster change. Fewer than 15% of change initiatives succeed. Pfeffer and Sutton even boldly suggested that one critical solution for any company is simply to become thoughtful.
Imagine that building something new may simply grow from a group of people committing to slow down, focus and complete the hard work of learning and doing.
Pfeffer and Sutton's thought leadership is structured from the perspective of organizations, and very relevant to a growing sector of --- multi-sector and public private partnerships designed to tackle complex issues that are creating a system of re-enforcement that stops well intentioned individuals and groups from building sustainable initiatives that lead to job growth, affordable health care and education..
While people know you can't change another person, more and more are coming together aware that change is not going to happen out of what individuals learn and do unless we change in concert with each other and take constructive steps to foster this change..
During the 1990's, knowledge management, technology and the notion of web based communities of practice drew billions of dollars and time of investment. However, the promise of change that these communities promised, did not foster change. These technology driven expert businesses added to a growing cahos from economic unrest and a chaos dominated driven by the threat and numerous cycles of layoffs. Silicon Valley designed itself for projected return investment rather than a tangible concrete vision or successful outcome. The Northeast Corridor saw some very challenging consequences in economic slowdown and lost jobs protecting traditions of 100 year old companies.
Gary L. Neilson and Bruce A. Pasternack of Booz Allen Hamilton in their new book
Results: Keep What's Good, Fix What's Wrong and Unlock Great Performance in a series of articles written for Strategy + Business Magazine suggest that every organization has a DNA. In this book they describe 7 patterns of DNA and distinguish between what a company does to produce results and come to life and how to grow beyond a dysfuncational pattern that could if not addressed lead a company to its demise.
The implication of this recomendation is complex. The only possible way to change is for people to join to work together step by step and deal with the awkwardness of breaking away from mechanical habits. This means planning the time and effort to move slowly into a new practice, and learning the disciplines that permits people to move fast and with less caution. This approach is like an artistic endeavor. In these instances people have to practice individually and learn personal mastery and also practice as an ensemble.
Core Group Theory and its related practices are not a map or formula for success. The theory is adaptable to a wide range of initiatives that foster civil dialogue in all its phases to build cooperative efforts of change. Individuals or small groups cannot easily organize and spark change from isolated offices or institutions that keep the field of view narrow. This creates dysfunctional complexity. It is possible to engage at the edge of ANGST and empower change.
Theda Skocpol, a sociologist from Harvard University authored a book, Civic Engagement in American Democracy, that summarizes the changing civil dialogue and voice of what matters in the US, today. Skocpol's search of the literature and current research shows that the civil voice is growing among environmentalists, consumers, women and the peace movement reflected in the growing proportion of associations that are addressing public affairs through the formation of citizen groups, foundations, trade, health and corporate political action groups. The voice of labor, advocacy for vulnerable groups, rural and urban economic injustice and racial inequality is on the decline.
The education, campaigns and research authored by these groups can constructively spill over into the workplace. As increasing numbers of professionals in the workforce give associate with organizations e.g. Greenpeace, AARP and even the American Automobile Association. Experiences across these groups are integrating the values and beliefs of how ordinary employed people live their lives. If Core Groups are unfamiliar with how the people that work with them live and on what basis, they have no instinctual or intellectual feeling for how decisions contrary to the values and beliefs of social networks will impact.
For example, the issue of women's capacity (not ability) to enter the field of science has been challenged for years. It is common knowledge that the life of a scientist is not something easy to muster if your interests include having a family or being involved in other activities outside of work. As the voice of these women gained power, remarks in institutional settings about women's inability to be scientists has become unacceptable and the grass roots voice is impacting how leaders are heard, their credibility and how core groups can no longer function through domination.
Often within Core Groups, "credentialed" experts dominate the mission and decison making pattern, so decisions serve the Core Group rather than the stakeholders. The Core Group unintentionally creates barriers to change that the social network perceives can serve all community stakeholders.
So to lead as a Core Group participant and/or lead formation of a social network voice, you can't work in isolation. Those who join with others to map out the landscape and scheme of influences that are at work can learn from this with others and share a knowledge base from which they can build something new by.
It is for any leader to learn about who is in a social network, how they are comprised and how they operate day to day. This is why WE Thought Leader, Karen Stephenson has provided a infrastructure for thinking that can serve the most complex of merger/acquisitions or provide quantitative data points that construct an architecture for how to take their knowledge into practice.
- Bringing people together where the institutional leadership includes representation from a constellation of social networks creates what Practice Leader, Michael Jones describes as A Commons of Imagination. Building a Commons can be the first step in convening a multi-sector public and private partnership where people form a place where a view of a future can be constructed as something people can work toward.
When people gather on the Front Porch they find that conversation can become more relaxed and contemplative. As a result people become less mechanical and are far more willing to listen to each other rather than stay trapped with reflexive responses. In this kind of atmosphere, people can draw from disciplines, e.g. stakeholder or social network analysis, systems thinking and generative dialogue, to bring something new to life that no one could predicted as an outcome. That "something", if fostered thoughtfully, can grow into a successful outcome from ordinary work to something extraordinary that no one could predicted as an outcome.
If people can take the time to examine their working purpose more thoughtfully, they find a way to approach more rigorous ideas (social responsibility and stakeholder analysis) and construct a thought leadership to work into practice.
To read more about: WorkEcology Thought and Practice Leadership
To establish if you or your group are ready for this approach to high performance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To engage members of our community is easy. Contact us, we'll briefly chat and suggest a way to simply get to work on a small productive step of "learning to know what to do."