Esko Kilpi on Interactive Value Creation

The art of interaction, the design of digital and the science of social complexity

Tag: Twitter

The foundations of social business: pull communication

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In mainstream thinking, managers are understood as the prime originators of what happens in their businesses. The central concern is how the active manager/subject gets the passive follower/object to act in ways that reflect the manager’s perspective. Management continues to see communication in terms of influence and manipulation.

The social business view sees relations and communication as conversational processes of meaning making. It is a movement of thought on the basis of multiple perspectives that you invite or you pull. A person, when networking, would be subscribing to contextually relevant topics and people. Push transforms to pull.

Interaction starts with recognition. It is about granting attention to people and information and making room for them in our lives.  Leading and following in the traditional corporate sense have seen the leader making people follow him through motivation and rewards. The leader also decided who the followers should be.

When seen through the logic of social business and social tools, leading and following have a very different dynamic. Leading in this new business sense is not position-based, but recognition-based. People, the followers, decide who to follow and what topics to follow.  You pull information from someone you trust to be at the forefront in an area, which is temporarily meaningful for you.

Another huge difference from traditional management thinking is that because of the diversity of contexts people link to, there can never be just one source of information. Thus, an individual always has many topics and people that she follows. You might even claim that from the point of view taken here, it is highly problematic if a person only has one “leader”. It would mean attention blindness as a default state.

Pull communication is at best a process of active following, creative learning through observing and simulating desired practices. Leading on the other hand, is doing one’s work in a transparent, inspiring and reflective way.

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Thank you John Hagel, Stowe Boyd and Stephen Downes

More on the subject: Stowe Boyd.

The really big idea of social business

It is often said that the transformation to becoming a social business means facilitating activities such as transparent action and cooperation instead of the competitive individualism we are so used to.

Management buy-ins are also seen as a challenge that needs to be tackled. But can it be that the real challenge is not the return of investment of the new tools or learning new ways of doing things, but acknowledging that there is a need for rethinking what management is and refreshing the theories it is built on.

The way business thinking sees the self and its relationships is based on Cartesian philosophy; I think, therefore I am. Everything in management and thus also in mainstream social business takes place from the first-person point of view.

This Cartesian isolation was strengthened in Newton’s physics, where matter and also people, were seen metaphorically as billiard balls, bumping against one another every now and then. Billiard balls don’t really meet. They don’t get inside each other and alter each other’s internal qualities. During a collision they may undergo a change of position or direction, but they remain essentially the same. This is why psychology and sociology were separate disciplines. This also explains why human capital and social capital are seen as two separate things.

The Cartesian/Newtonian paradigm of isolated individuals having external relations underlies the mainstream thinking about what is going on in Twitter, Facebook and social media in general.

The often-asked question is what causes things to happen. When we seek for causal explanations, we begin to split the world into independent entities. There are causes on the one hand and effects on the other. Thus when we try to understand a person’s actions or try to understand what is happening, we search for an independent set of conditions that bring these about. This is why we search for the good managers and blame the bad ones. The manager is the independent cause – and deserves to be paid accordingly. The rest of us are the effects.

In attempting to understand the big idea of  social business, let us replace the metaphor of billiard balls by the metaphor of baking as Kenneth Gergen suggests. It is then about the combination of ingredients and how the ingredients co-create the end result. With the right combination you get delicious food. The elements don’t independently cause the end result to be a success. From this standpoint a lighted match does not cause a fire. Rather the fire took place because of a particular combination of elements of which the lighted match was one. In the same way, a rude remark does not start a fight. The argument starts as a combination of an offensive remark and a coarse response

The really big idea of social business is to reconfigure agency in a way that brings relationships into the centre. The task is to see action within relationships. It is about interdependence instead of independence.

Every human relationship serves as a model for what is possible. As we observe others we incorporate their actions into our own repertoire. Learning is the fundamental process of socialization. Within any relationship we are also in the process of becoming. We come to play a certain role, a certain identity. With my deceased father, I came to being as a child. This happened even when I was a grown up. With my son, I come to being as a father. Each relationship will bring me into being as a certain kind of person creating a huge repository of potentials. What social technologies are making possible is a much, much richer repertoire than what we were used to in a traditional firm.

Amyarta Sen has written that wealth should not be measured by what we have but what we can do. As we engage in new relationships we are creating new potentials for action. There is still the little boy in me but also much, much more, not least because social media are part of my life.

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Thank you Kenneth Gergen for great conversations! This is based on my notes from our meetings. Thank you also Stu Kauffman and Doug Griffin

Twitter, Facebook and management

Emotional contagion is a fact of life. It means that our moods and even physical health are created in interaction with other people. We tilt either to the positive or the negative as a result of our relations, and the further relations, the people that we relate with have. It is a chain that goes far beyond the horizon. This is why we can no longer see our minds as independent and separate but as thoroughly social. Our mental life is co-created in a larger and larger interconnected network. What we have called the individual mind is something that arises continuously in relationships between people.

Our social interactions also play a role in shaping our brain. We know now that repeated experiences sculpt the synaptic connections and rewire our brain. Accordingly, our relationships gradually frame our neural circuitry. Being chronically depressed by others or being emotionally nourished and enriched has lifelong impacts.

Mainstream thinking sees the social in social business as a platform or a community, on a different level from the individuals who form it. The social is seen as separate from the individuals.

The approach suggested here follows a different reasoning and sees individuals as social. Both the individual and the social are then about interaction, where the individual is interaction inside and the social is interaction outside. The inside and outside cannot be separated or understood separately.

Interaction starts with recognition. It is about granting attention to others and making room for them in our lives. Being recognized has tremendous significance. People in traditional companies were often stuck in narrow, repetitive patterns of communication that provided them with numbing, repressive and even neurotic experiences.

Leading and following in the traditional corporate sense have seen the leader making people follow him through motivation and rewards. The leader also decided who the followers should be.

When seen through the logic of social media, leading and following have a very different dynamic. Leading in this new social business sense is not position-based, but recognition-based. People, the followers, also decide. The leader is someone people trust to be at the forefront in an area which is temporally meaningful for them. People also recognize as the leader someone who inspires, energizes and empowers them.

Another huge difference from traditional management thinking is that because of the diversity of contexts people link to, there can never be just one “boss”. Thus, an individual always has many leaders that she follows. You might even claim that from the point of view taken here, it is highly problematic if a person only has one leader. It would mean attention blindness as a default state.

Following is at best a process of active, creative learning through observing and simulating desired practices. Leading is doing one’s work in an open, inspiring and transparent way. Leading is engaging with people and being reflective. Patterns of recognition and patterns of communication are the most predictive activities there are in forecasting viability, agility and also human well-being.

Identity is a pattern in time. The individual and the social are born, and form one another at the same time. You can’t add a social layer to what you do, or to your IT systems – you are social!

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Thank you Ralph Stacey, Doug Griffin, Ken Gergen and Dian Marie Hosking

More: “The idea of following in the age of Twitter

Clubs may be the future of offices

Although work today is primarily digital, organizations still have a spatial dimension in one way or another. Even in the digital age we still think in terms of space. The key thing is that both the organizational structure and space greatly influence the patterns of work. A few years ago, the typical organizational design meant that work was divided into multiple parts that were simply added together to create the product. Individual workers did not need to know much more than what was specific to their individual tasks to complete their jobs. This created the offices we have today with separate meeting rooms for people to use when face-to-face communication with others was needed.

Today, the results of work are not brought together at the end but are communicated throughout the process. A growing number of people are involved in generating ideas and information and bringing those ideas together in collaborative sense making. Work is interaction and an ongoing meeting. Communication is not talking about work. Communication is work.

Three archetypes of communication can be seen in firms. The first type is communication for responsiveness and coordination. This creates the need for transparency. The right hand knows what the left is doing. The second type is asymmetric following. It is about a Twitter kind of information logistics to help people keep up with new developments that are contextually important for them. The third type is serendipitous inspiration from ad hoc encounters. It is spontaneous and helps people to come upon the unexpected. The third type of interaction often occurs between people who work on different things and draw on different disciplines. These people don’t often meet in traditional work arrangements. They don’t normally have a lot to do with each other on a daily basis.

Most managers will acknowledge the role played by the organizational structure and the process chart, but not all understand that physical space is equally important. Structure and space together influence how we work and how efficiently communication takes place when we meet.

There is an interesting benchmark available: private clubs. These clubs are places where typically only members and their guests are allowed in. The rooms are defined according to a function, such as socializing, eating and reading. These rooms are open to all, rather than being assigned to a single worker. You can book a more private room for a specific purpose, but in a clubhouse, you cannot put your name on the door.

Members of future organizations will use these new co-working spaces for projects, networking and for concentrated work, but they are not going to have spaces to fill with their personal belongings.

Many people bemoan the loss of a personal designated space, a little home away from home. However, I believe that they are going to learn to appreciate the value of freedom of choice and the escape from the control system of being seen in the same traditional office cubicle nine-to-five.

If you are in the middle of a conversation with someone, you seldom pause to talk about the conversation itself. But today, it is time to pause and consider, not only the new digital tools, but how we work physically together and where we meet to do that.

And yes, we are also going to continue to meet face-to-face in small groups in the future.

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The inspiration for writing this came from meeting my friend @elsua face-to-face for the first time a few days ago. Thank you @villepeltola and @sakuidealist

Advice on how to manage off-site workers

Attention blindness and the social business

Cathy N. Davidson has studied the way we make sense and think. Her claim is that we often end with problems when we tackle important issues together. This happens “not because the other side is wrong but because both sides are right in what they see, but neither can see what the other does”. In normal daily conditions, it may be that we don’t even know that other perspectives other than our own exist. We believe we see the whole picture from our point of view and have all the facts. Focus however means selection and selection means blind spots leading to (attention) blindness. We have a partial view that we take as the full picture.

This is one of the reasons why people in companies are often stuck in narrow, repetitive and negative patterns that provide them with numbing, repressive and even neurotic experiences.

The opportunity provided by social tools lies in the widening and deepening of communication, leading to new voices taking part and new conversations that cross organizational units and stale process charts.

According to Cathy Davidson, attention blindness is the fundamental structuring principle of the brain. Attention blindness is also the fundamental structuring principle of our organizations and our political system. We see and understand things selectively.

Knowing in the brain is a set of neural connections that correspond to our patterns of communication. The challenge is to see the filters and linkages as communication patterns that either keep us stuck or open up new possibilities.

The opportunity lies in the fact that as we don’t all select the same things, we don’t all miss the same things. If we can pool our insights we can thrive in the complex world we live in. In this way of thinking, we leave behind the notion of the self-governing, independent individual for a different notion, of interdependent people whose identities are established in interaction with each other.

From this perspective, individual change cannot be separated from changes in the groups to which an individual belongs. And changes in the groups don’t take place without the individuals changing.

Our attention is a result of the filters we use. These filters can be a mix of habits, company processes, organizational charts or tools. Increasingly these filters are social. They are the people we recognize as experts. Our most valuable guides to useful bits of insight are trusted people whose activities we can follow in real time to help us enrich our views.

Management research has focused on the leadership attributes of an individual. Leading and following in the traditional corporate sense have seen the leader making people follow him through motivation and rewards. The leader also decided who the followers should be.

Leading and following when seen as a relationship, not as attributes of individuals, have a very different dynamic. Leading in this new sense is not position-based, but recognition-based. People, the followers, also decide. The leader is someone people trust to be at the forefront in an area, which is temporally meaningful for them.

People recognize as the leader someone who inspires, energizes and empowers them.

Another huge difference from traditional management is that because of the diversity of contexts people link to, there can never be just one boss. Thus, an individual always has many “leaders” that she follows. You might even claim that from the point of view taken here, it is highly problematic if a person only has one leader. It would mean attention blindness as a default state.

We are now at the very beginning of understanding leadership in the new contextual, temporal framework. The relational processes of leading and following should be seen as temporary, responsive activity streams, not only on the Internet but also inside companies. They are manifested as internal (Twitter) feeds, (Facebook) updates and blog posts from the people you associate with.

Richer, more challenging, more exploratory conversations leave people feeling more alive, more inspired and capable of far more creative and effective action.

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Thank you Cathy N. Davidson and Doug Griffin

Responsiveness, emergence and self-organization

I gave keynote speeches at two conferences this week. The organizers of the events did not suggest a (#) hashtag to be used by the delegates. There wasn’t any backchannel Twitter discussion going on in the audience. I felt strange.

I wasn’t able to listen and respond to real-time feedback. I was missing the self-regulation and self-organizing that social media make possible. This is what I have grown so accustomed to. I started to ponder on two questions: Is it becoming more common for responsiveness to be the missing ingredient in many communities? And can there be rules for responsiveness that help to create viable communities?

I know that there are problems with two-way communication. There are the people with a pre-set interpretative model. We all know the people who are grinding their axe at the back of the room. They are the know-alls and the one-point-of-view evangelists, the people who insist on bringing all conversations round to their particular issue.

I know that there are even bigger issues: All participants are never visible. Any given conversation on the Web may have a few active participants and several silent ones. This creates a fundamental imbalance in the system and gives the oddballs the opportunity to dominate the space in a way that would be much harder to do off-line.

What I felt at the conferences was a crucial disparity: they hear me talking, but I don’t hear them. The audience was both present and absent at the same time. A conference with a Twitter backchannel creates inputs from the official speakers and responses coming from the audience that is present, but also the online audiences elsewhere. The most important thing is that the primary inputs can then be further adjusted on the basis of the responses from the group. There is real-time emergent self-organizing going on.

Information flows are far too often unidirectional. The audience is present but in a passive, invisible way. The tyranny of the hatemonger results from this one-way flow and scarcity of feedback.

The volume is too high for any single individual to filter out the useless or plain repulsive. There are, however, ways to filter out the irrelevant and the obnoxious, but it requires people to respond. If you are a participant, you are also a moderator.

The quality control has to be handed to the community itself without any single individual being in control. The solution is fairly simple in theory. It is about responsiveness and a mix of negative and positive feedback.

You always rate what you see. The ratings coalesce algorithmically into something that is called karma in Slashdot. If your contributions are highly rated you get karma points. The karma you have earned means that your subsequent posts begin life at a higher level than posts by others. Your ratings also have a higher value than ratings given by people with fewer karma points. Dynamic rating is to posts what links are to websites.

The people worth following, the leaders, raise bottom up. Hierarchies in network architectures are natural and dynamic heterarchies. In fact this is the only way that there can be leaders in democratic systems. One “algorithm” tracks the value of contributions; the other tracks the value of contributors.

The Web 2.0 gave the audience a voice. What is happening at the moment is much more radical. It is not about representation but gestures and responses leading to emergence and self-organization. It is not about the message or the media any more. It is more about the rules of responsiveness. In a simplified way, you can express those rules as constant positive and negative feedback moving the whole system towards a particular direction based on the behaviour of the participants.

The definition of what is quality and what is crap is a result of the responsive interaction. It is not group think however, because the ratings of people with high “karma points” weigh more than the assessments of the average members. The huge problem is that the majority viewpoints get amplified, while minority opinions get silenced. This is why we need a new category to support quality. It is diversity.

Changing the algorithm to reward diversity of opinion means the emergence of a system that looks totally different. Instead of highlighting posts with high average ratings, the system could highlight posts that have triggered a high divergence of ratings. There are many +5 responses, but also many -5 responses. The posts that inspire strong responses either way, both positive and negative, could then rise to higher visibility. The system can thus reward controversial voices, not only popular ones.

A viable system needs to reward perspectives that deviate from the mainstream. We need perspectives that don’t aim to please everyone. The oddballs would still be marginalized but the thoughtful minorities who attract both admirers and critics would have a visible place in the ongoing process of creating the future in responsive collaboration.

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Thank you Steven Johnson

Lessons from the early adopters of corporate social technologies

The mainstream approach to management places a heavy emphasis on the formulation of plans and intentions and then communicating them as actions to be implemented by the organization. The starting point for change involves conceiving a picture of the future that is somewhat different from the picture of the present. After the content side is taken care of, the focus is then on providing tools for the process of change.

The approach that is made possible through enterprise social media is very different. The question that is now asked is: “How can people participate in such a way that things develop and change over time?”

The strategic focus of the early adopters of corporate social media is an ongoing continuous movement that is open-ended, and always incomplete. The strategic logic is temporal rather than spatial. When following a spatial metaphor, there is a territory that can be explored and understood, but here the territory is seen as being under continuous development and formation by the exploration itself. “It is impossible to map an area that changes with every step the explorer takes.” People inhabit a world of emergence, uncertainty and responsive change.

Themes such as communities, social network analysis and social graph underline a fairly strong sense of definable relationships and a sense of “us”. Our studies, however, show that social media create a dynamic and shifting sense of groups one belongs to. Conversations always follow from previous conversations and move on involving others, often as a result of responses from outside the corporate firewall. Work utilizing social media has much less clear and managed beginnings and endings. There is, typically, no pre-conceived design for the pattern of work: it evolves live.

Corporate life is improvising together

Physical meetings in organizations are often more or less orchestrated and planned in advance: “You should come prepared. There should be a clear goal for the meeting.” Following this thinking, there is no true sense of creating the future together. It is much more likely that people construct what they have always constructed. When people use social media to connect, they experience the potential inherent in communication, depending on how they express themselves, and how they respond. “Social media create the experience of acting into the unknown, creating the future together, improvising together.”

By linking improvisation to a group, like in theatrical improvisation, we get to what is in fact happening in social media. All of us with our differing intentions, hopes and fears, are acting in corporate plays that are very close to improvisational theater. We are self-organizing in shifting social configurations in the responsive interplay of different players.

We are fellow-improvisers in corporate ensembles constantly constructing the future, and our part in what is happening, in responsive interaction. The idea of improvisation is often associated with notions of unrehearsed, unintentional action. However, the more skilled we are, the better we can improvise. The better we have planned, the more flexible we can be. The more intensely we are present, the more responsive we can be.

The real time web is creating a real time company. The most important outcome is that social media focus attention more on what people are doing in the present than on what they intend to do in the future. The focus is on communicative interaction, the next tweet and the latest blog post.

The pattern of relating also becomes very clear: “We get to see who is talking and who is silent? Who is invited to join and who is excluded or opts out?” The focus of attention is on the processes of participation and the life stream as the narrative of progress.

A senior manager in a very large multinational corporation explained the impact of social media: “Since I moved away from thinking that what I do is manage the corporation through communicating with the whole corporation, I have started to pay attention to my own participation with the people I meet or should meet, and my responses in everyday interaction. Through asking different kinds of questions and through pointing to different kinds of issues, through changing my own participation, I have in fact changed my company.”

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Thank you Keith Johnstone, Srikumar Rao, Patricia Shaw and Doug Griffin

Productivity and mobile devices

Lenovo unveiled their new tablet-capable business laptop last Monday. The company made a conscious decision not to bring out an iPad like tablet PC. They said customers don’t want it. “The feedback was that for our customers it would not work because of the need to have a physical keyboard.”

The discussion around a virtual or physical keyboard caught my attention. The purpose of a keyboard is fairly straightforward: to get words onto the recording medium. The ability to capture a symbolic representation of spoken language for storage or transfer frees information from the limits of individual memory or location. But do we need a physical keyboard for that?

The patent for the typewriter was awarded in 1868 to Christopher Sholes. An early problem of the typewriter was the jamming of the type bars when certain combinations of keys were struck in a very close sequence. As a solution to the problem, Sholes arranged his keyboard in such a way that the keys most likely to be struck in close succession were approaching the type point from opposite sides of the machine. The keyboard is actually configured to minimize speed of input. At the time, reducing the speed of the typewriter was the best way to prevent it from jamming. The QWERTY keyboard was designed to accomplish a now obsolete mechanical requirement. It can be claimed that it is very unproductive to use a keyboard as an interface to productivity tools. The situation would of course be different if we all used ten fingers and did not need to look at the keyboard as we type.

Mobile phones are still mainly associated with communication, not productivity software. As a result a knowledge worker needs two devices: a laptop and a mobile phone.

No mobile phone has created as much of a buzz as the Google Nexus One since Apple launched the iPhone. As in other Android-based mobile devices, there is no physical keyboard. Text input relies on a virtual keyboard. But there is also a voice-to-text input functionality. We could use our voice and video instead of a keyboard! And additionally the camera is paving the way towards augmented reality!

The third device category is tablets: bigger than mobile phones but smaller than laptops – and often without a physical keyboard. The critiques claim that tablets like the iPad are just laptops without keyboards, while others are really mobile phones with proper-sized keyboards, without any definition of a real market need. At least the Lenovo customers don’t want them. Hopefully the Lenovo case is not  a matter of history repeating itself, as when Ken Olsen was explaining that DEC customers didn’t want PC’s.

The question here is not only how we think about the means of input. In the corporate context, it is even more about how we think about productivity and what kind of software can be called productivity software.

Productivity is a function of interaction

Instead of thinking about productivity as if it were associated with certain types of documents, it is closer to experience to think that productivity emerges or does not, in people’s interaction with each other and in interaction with the devices we use. Productivity is a function of interaction. Interaction is the content of social media! Therefore, it may not be a very good idea to bring the old document-based productivity software to mobile phones, or use Lilliputian keyboards.

The key productivity focus should be on widening and deepening interaction and reflection. This leads to a new perspective on information-related practices and productivity tools. Rising productivity requires changes in the way we communicate. Can there be a richer and easier way to use our devices? This, by the way, is the main sales argument behind the iPad.

The fastest immediate increase in productivity comes from either learning touch typing or using voice and video as means of input. Perhaps the keyboard of the future is speech combined with transcription? Anyway, the productivity software of tomorrow needs to be interaction-based. The most efficient productivity suit of tomorrow may well be a combination of Twitter, blogs and Facebook.

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Thank you Kuutti Lavonen

Background

Mobile data

A temporal pattern of networked intellect

Charles Darwin is reported to have written 15.000 letters during his career. The case of Charles D becomes interesting if we assume that he received roughly the same number of letters as he sent. Think about the time he spent reading and writing; think about the time he spent networking.  Would we have advised Charles to limit his time spent on social media and stick to his productive work? Perhaps not.

The history lessons taught in schools and leadership case studies taught in management education classes see the properties and ideas of particular persons as the drivers of the events that unfold in the world. Even today, this reinforces the common notion that history is made by outstanding individuals. But is it really so that if Newton had never been born, we would still be ignorant about gravitation?

The question we should ask is whether the great man theory of innovation, science and business really helps us to understand the world? Alfred Wallace, the British explorer and anthropologist published his version of the theory of natural selection at the same time as Darwin, or, as many claim, before him. Wallace had an impact on Darwin and among other things, prompted him to publish his work.

The interesting thing here is that a great idea matured in different places roughly at the same time.

However, the idea had a history. Both Wallace and Darwin based their studies on earlier work by the Augustinian priest and scientist Gregor Mendel. To be really fair, we should of course continue the chain and know who the nodes in the network were well before Mendel? So instead of talking about Darwinian evolution, we should really call it Darwinian-Wallacian-Mendelian-and-the-scientists-before-them, evolution!

People have always networked. Before the time of universities scholars depended largely on correspondence networks for the exchange of ideas. These communities, known as the Republic of Letters were the social media of the era, following the communication patterns of today astonishingly closely. Many researchers claim that one of the key success factors in science is the network of the scientist. This was also the case with Darwin. Historians claim that Darwin’s network was the decisive thing that tilted the focus towards him and not towards Wallace.

The better-networked scientist is the better scientist. The better-networked knowledge worker is the better knowledge worker. The better-networked student is the better student.

The main difference from the time of Charles Darwin is the efficiency of our tools for networking, meaning thinking together.

This is what Darwin used letters for, to think together with his network of contacts.  Over 6000 of those letters can be studied today at the Darwin Correspondence Project web pages. What is similar to the social media of today is the many casual, almost intimate letters Darwin sent, reflecting his own life and the life around him. Darwin did not make a distinction between his professional life and his private life in his approach to communication with his network. Perhaps we shouldn’t either.

A “man of letters” may today be a man of tweets, blog posts and Facebook, but the principle is the same: the size and quality of the network matters. What matters even more than the network, is networking, the way we use the network. In trying to understand what is going on, we should shift our focus from independent events and independent heroic people to networked temporality.  Even more than understanding networking, we should acknowledge the inherently creative commons nature of thinking and all development. Life is a temporal pattern of emotional and intellectual interaction.

We are our interaction.

The Individual and the Social

There are two distinctly different approaches to understanding the individual and the social on the social web. Mainstream thinking sees the social as a platform or a community, on a different level from the individuals who form it. The social is separate from the individuals. A totally different approach to social media sees individuals as social. Both the individual and the social are then about interaction, where the individual is interaction “inside” and the social is interaction “outside”. The interaction inside is silent and private, while the interaction outside is vocal and more public. The main difference from the first approach is that the inside and outside cannot be separated or understood separately. Here I repeat my friend, Professor Ralph Stacey, and his work which builds on that of Norbert Elias and George Herbert Mead: here both the individual and the social are sides of the same process of communication.

The individual is the singular of interdependence while the social is the plural.

If we subscribe to the second approach, the main importance of social media is in the formation of who we are. An individual recognizes herself, as a self, in the recognition of those she follows and who follow her on Twitter, who like her updates on Facebook etc. In this way of thinking, we leave behind the notion of the self-governing, independent individual for a different notion, of interdependent people whose identities are established in interaction with each other as Professor Doug Griffin, my close friend and teacher has put it. From this perspective, individual change cannot be separated from changes in the groups to which an individual belongs. And changes in the groups don’t take place without the individuals changing. We form our groups and our followerships and they form us at the same time, all the time.

Identity is a pattern in time.

People in companies are often stuck in narrow, repetitive patterns of conversation that provide them with numbing, repressive and even neurotic experiences. We should look at communication as the most predictive group activity there is in forecasting viability and agility. The opportunity provided by social media lies in the widening and deepening of communication leading to new voices taking part and to new conversations that cross siloed organizational units and stale process charts. A key management challenge today is to understand that the only way to guarantee agility and resilience is to actively and widely participate in the conversations that matter.

Richer, more challenging, more exploratory conversations leave people feeling more alive, more inspired and capable of far more creative action.

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Thank you Doug Griffin and Ralph Stacey.