I am tidying up my blog and I like this post that I wrote in January about Obama’s arrival at the White House. Obama’s worldwind activity foreshadows how we will all work in future. Fast, decisive and above all, very dependent on our colleagues.
I am an Obama-fan. You may not be. But then it is all the more important to study the effectiveness of ‘his machinery’. Read carefully!
For psychologists, coaches and aspiring leaders, I’d be interested in your comments on the four points of effective living in the networked age the summaries that I added in italics and how life has changed.
I’ve also highlighted in red the work of leading a huge immensely talented team. Since I wrote this in January, I have become convinced that management and leadership will not change much in the networked age. It will just rest less on command-and-control and more on orientation, synthesis and coordination. I’d love your thoughts.
Learning from Barack
Day Two, Barack Obama continues with his extraordinary pace. With Hillary Clinton, on her first day, he appoints experienced Special Envoys to the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan. His Communications Director gives the first press briefing, and he tours the Press Room personally in a surprise visit. He signs Executive Orders, closing Guatanamo, and reinforcing the Freedom of Information Act (or US equivalent).
Importantly, he has done all of this in public view. For many of us, this is a welcome inclusion in the process of government. For others, this is a useful preview of work, leadership and management in the decades ahead.
Networking our work
We are seeing networked government in action.
Obama’s Blackberry is its symbol. He uses rapid, brief electronic communication, but his communications are neither thoughtless nor ephemeral. Indeed, as President, all his communications are recorded.
Everyone in the network was invited in for their experience and professionalism. They are able to assimilate new information quickly, point out what they don’t know, and act accordingly. Not everyone is old. His Director of Speech Writing is 27 and has acquired experience, confidence and judgment through successive elections.
The network moves with dazzling speed. Though they were able to prepare for these two days, they have been moving office, moving house, and waiting for confirmation of some senior people.
Networking our work
All work is going the same way, and we have questions.
How do young people get experience to join in at this level? How do we work with a leader whose vision is different to ours?
There seem to be 4 rules to this new way of living and working.
#1 Find our own vision
We have to find our own vision, build our own networks, and develop the mindful working skills to work with very skilled people in networks that are forever reforming and reshaping as they responding to world events.
Even the youngest among us needs to adopt a posture of leadership. We all need to be bold enough to work out our vision and identify the best people to take us there.
Dreaming is not enough. We need to reach out and be the bridge between people who are part of our vision.
#3 Be present
Personally and electronically, monitoring and nurturing involvement and direction.
#4 And because we need to be present, we can only pursue “one vision at a time”.
Whatever we pursue should be big enough and important enough for us to spend all our time with it.
Learning from the master
I am glad we can watch the President at work. He helps me pinpoint 3 challenges to ask myself at any moment.
#1 Those of us who grew up in hierarchical systems at home, school and work, may find it difficult to imagine a system where we are all leaders and that we are actually guiding an entire network at the moment when ‘the ball passes to us’.
At this moment, I am holding the ball. I am mistress of the universe. Quick! What is my vision? What do want for the world and what am I promising to work at with all my heart and all my might?
#2 Before the internet, we were able to compartmentalize our lives, putting on a mask as we went to work, and taking it off again on the way home. In this interconnected world, like the President in the gold fish bowl of the White House, we need to live as we mean to live, wherever we are, and whatever we are doing.
Is what I am doing ‘so together’ that I am happy for everyone to see it? If not, why am I wasting time and energy on it?
#3 And hardest of all, the old systems allowed us to ‘sleepwalk’ and blame the inadequacies of our lives on the ‘owners of the vision’. There was no need to be fully present, and it was probably better not to be.
Networked work requires us to be mindful. Just as we are part of a large fast moving network, today is part of a seamless stream of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and for today to play its part, we need to revere today and live it fully.
If this place that I have come to is not where I want to be, what must I attend to fully to take me on my way?
So today is Day Three. The President will have another tight schedule. He relies on the many competent people he has brought in to play their part without minute direction, but with minute coordination.
His role and contribution is to keep the common vision alive, to acknowledge and value the smallest contributions, and to ensure that the network gets rapid feedback about the way the world receives our actions, so we are able to respond effectively and appropriately in real time.
Our Day Three
Networked times have come and take some readjustment of our thinking. It is good to watch Obama in a White House that seems to have developed a glass front.
Our role is to start to take part. And our first step is to work on a personal vision, which is important enough to pursue with all our heart and all our mind, beginning in the situation in which we find ourselves today.
It is a big task. I am on to it. Are you?