Saturday, April 14, 2007

What is it you care about?

Dr. Margaret Wheatley is on tour - not quite the same as Dylan, the Rolling Stones, CSNY or Iggy and the Stooges. Much as I'd pay to see BobbyD (within reason, of course) its better for my ears to listen to her. Her dreams and vision of community and organizations are part of a new story we can share. I think and write a lot about the journey we're on. Its a journey with many paths. If she's in your town, check it out!

I was privileged to hear Meg speak Friday afternoon. President Emerita of The Berkana Institute, I was introduced to her work 5-6 years ago through the book "Leadership and the New Science". If I were to review this book in one sentence - "We live in a world of chaos becoming connected". She's an extremely readable author especially for the non-scientist - me. Dr. Wheatley has newer books that taking her beliefs deeper and broader - so dig in. You should dig somewhere else if you prefer technical business, economic, leadership or marketing reading though. If your looking for answers all I can say is expect questions.

Her current slide talk begins with this quote:

"There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about".
As I sat in the law building lecture hall (she was the first to point out the irony of the set up as all good conversation happens in a circle), it struck me that discovery is constantly evolving. A community (insert organization anywhere you feel like it) no sooner gets what it wants then its on to the next thing. Its through this action where we engage each other. The relationships we develop during this evolution are what allow us to discover our true humanity. It is the people and the connections who make the community powerful. And the community is not a flow chart but a mish-mash of interconnections. I kept thinking of all the directions blogging and linking can take us. The image in the upper left reminding me of spheres of influence conversation in August and January. Its part of the story.

Wheatley talked about leadership principles that are found in healthy communities. Think about these as you build conversation and community on your blog. Think more critically about the principles as they impact your organizations.
  • People only support what they create. We have a strong desire to belong to anything we had a part of building. It begins with relationship. We are creative by nature but deny it too often for any number of reasons. Let it flourish.
  • People only act responsibly when they care about the community. When people care about the success of the organization they act as if what they do really matters. How they act, what they say and how they think. When a community is lead by loving and caring it is healthy.
  • Depend on diversity. The greater number of eyes, ears and voices - the better. Who is missing? Widen the circle by learning more stories. You can't dislike someone once you know their story. Its loud, its messy, it works!
  • Listen - listening is healing. Try to listen and not preach. Who fights that one? I know I do. Remember we are weaving and reweaving relationships of success and influence one comment at a time.
  • Everybody is an expert in something. You never know who will be critical to success.
  • The solutions to the problems are already here. They just haven't been re-discovered
  • Expect leadership to emerge from anywhere. Expect to be surprised when you see it.
  • Learning must be the primary value. We never stop learning from our experience. Problem is we forget what we learn too often. Ever do the same thing expecting something other than the same result?
  • Recall people to purpose. Why do we do the things we do? Why is it worth it to pour your heart into the work? Remind each other the reasons. I'm going out on a limb here. At least one purpose you blog is so your readers find occasional value in your thoughts and ideas. You have many others - what are they?
Remember that whatever the problem might be - community is the answer. We have the chance to make community the norm in our organization. Speak out on the issues you care about.


Gavin Heaton said...

Great post, Bob. Can't imagine that Meg will get to my town any time soon ;) -- but her ideas are great ... thanks for bringing them to my attention!

BobG said...

You never know, Gavin :) - She gets around! Her ideas and writing style resonate deep inside me. I'm munching up her most recent book Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time . Most of her work focuses on face to face communication. I'm trying to draw out the possibilities - plus and minus - in the www medium.

Thanks for commenting! You have the ability to appear at just the right time :)

Robyn McMaster said...

Hi Bob, I have Dr. Wheatley's book, "Leadership and the New Science." You've spelled out some really important things to consider as we build community. And Bob, if anyone models it well, you're at the top in my book!

BobG said...

Robyn - You're going to make me blush :) thank you for the encouraging comment. You are great that way and a fine example of creating community -

The new science book is a must read for anyone interested in organizational life, leadership and our shared humanity. It is very hopeful as we move to the future. Keeping in mind my bias, of course :) I was reading in the back of the current book. Dr. Wheatley defines todays leaders as anyone who wants to help at this time. While some define "help" differently, I like to consider even the remotest possibility that a blog can help in opening our understanding of each other.

The Idea Dude said...

Bob, terrific post, thanks for sharing. It's truly wonderful to hear others articulate so well what I care most deeply.

Mimi Lenox said...

Interesting reading here.

And if I haven't said it before....thanks for flying the Peace Globe banner. See you June 6th!

BobG said...

Thanks so much for the kind comment, idea dude. This post was bubbling for a while and Meg's short lecture gave me the shove to write it down -

Mimi - your welcome. I love my Peace Globe! June 6th gets closer every day!