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Month: January 2010

Your work personality: games-player or puppet-master?

How fast will the 2010 be?

We talk of the world becoming faster.  But in many ways, this pace is an illusion.  Try getting a decision out of someone!

Will we be any better organized?

There is a strata of the world that is not particularly accountable to any one.  Fads and fancies are adopted and dropped.

Will we put into play the basics of organization?

The issues of organization remain the same.

  • We need to have people “close up” who deal with fast cycle events and who thus don’t have the overall perspective.
  • We need people who operate one or two steps back from events who can collate and detect patterns.
  • And we need ways for these two groups to communicate.

Will the internet help us implement the basics of good organization?

What the internet allows us to do is to be both redundant and to communicate laterally with greater ease.

Alternative reality games illustrate this principle.

The plays contribute information “to the point of redundancy” so it is fine for any one person to dip-in-and-out at their pleasure.  Any one player is effectively redundant to the game.  As long as sufficient people are playing at any one time, the marginal value of the last player is redundant.

We need the number and diversity of players that “kicks” the game into a phase state consistent with the 3D Lorenz butterfly.  No one as far as I know has studied the critical mass of players.  Nor has anyone studied how the lateral communication of the internet affects the number of people we need.  So far, people have just noted that the lateral communication allows us to treat individual contributions as marginally redundant.

Interestingly, successful games have ‘puppet-masters’ in the background.  They’ve designed the game, they moderate the game, and they write up the game afterward.

Will the internet change the tiered-nature of good organization?

Alternate reality games have those familiar two layers: the day-to-day actors and the background ‘puppet-masters’.

Where do you like to play: games-player or puppet-master?

It’s a personal choice where we play.  We might also choose to play different parts at different times or on different games.

Which is your preferred role?  Games player or puppet-master?

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Personal leadership: Answer the moral challenge of our age

Psychology blossomed in the noughties

Positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, and mytho-poetic tradition are well understood and taught in psychology and management classrooms in all corners of the world.

But we need a name

Paradoxically though, the technical names for these fields are relatively unintelligible to lay people. If there is anything we want to achieve in this field, it is to be intelligible to ordinary people.

Would personal leadership do as name?

Eventually, I settled on the term personal leadership.

We are concerned about styles of leadership that are personal.  What I do, for example is not strictly relevant to what you do.  And what I do today, has little bearing on what is relevant tomorrow.

And does the name contribute to our understanding?

Having described the rationale of this new field in these words, is it truly a discipline that belongs in the professions?

How can this definition of leadership generate a theory that is useful in practice? After all, if what is relevant today and is not relevant tomorrow, what use is that theory?

We have an ontological challenge

The difficulty is less in the epistemology, that is in the way we study leadership, than in the ontology, the nature of leadership.

We used to think of leadership as something we do.

Now we look at ourselves in context. Our unit of analysis, as researchers say, is “ourself in context”.

What are the practical implications of defining leadership as ourselves in context?

We don’t exist when we don’t see

David Whyte refers to attention. “When my eyes are tired the world is tired also”. We are our habits of attention. We are what we attend to. We are our capacity to pay attention.  When our way is lost, we find ourselves by paying attention. By becoming mindful and “touching and feeling” what is around us.

The big change in our understanding of leadership

Who we are is not what we do repeatedly and well.

Who we are is our frontier. Who we are is the place where we are curious about the world. Who we are is the frontier we cannot ignore.

Paradoxically, often when we feel tired, it is not because we are at our frontier, it is because we are not. We are not at a place where we are confronting the unknown carried by the energy of compulsive curiosity.

Leadership is not a spectator sport

We feel alive when we are in a place where “we want to know”. We are leaders when our curiosity about a situation leads us to ask questions. We are leaders when our compulsive curiosity asks questions which holds a mirror up to a situation.

We are leaders when our questions allow people to ask their questions.

How can we understand leadership in a way that allows us to share knowledge?

This question has two goals.

#1  What is the knowledge I can share?

There are many ways of sharing knowledge and we know stories are much more effectual than dry statistics answering questions that were unlikely from the outset to produce a practically significant answer.

We also know that knowledge is also more likely to be absorbed when people trust the presenter – when the presenter shares the journey of the students.

#2  What can I charge for my knowledge?

And probably more important is the heretical question of what can we charge for our knowledge. How can we claim and sustain status for our knowledge?

It is this question that personal leadership answers. We share knowledge not because we are right, but because we are willing to share in the gains and losses of a decision.

It is here that the field of personal leadership enters into the spirit of our age. Authority comes from being willing to share the gains and losses of a decision.

Are we so curious about the people we are with that they are willing to be changed by them ~ without notice and without guarantee?

That is knowledge to be passed on. Am I willing to act with you right now?

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What do psychologists and HR managers contibute to a flourishing organization?

A psychologist by any other name

I belong to an odd profession. I am a psychologist, I specialize in work & organizations and in some jurisdictions I am called an occupational psychologist or an industrial psychologist or an industrial/organizational psychologist.  Sometimes I am called a business psychologist.

I usually work for myself but we do our work at our clients.  So my office is my car, my laptop and my smartphone.  When we get to our clients we are likely to “check in” at the general managers’ suite.  As we are concerned with people, much of our work interweaves with HR management.

So what do psychologists do?

I like to phrase that differently.  What do we contribute to an organization which is flourishing?

We have three tasks

  • To reduce the cost of management
  • To raise productivity and initiative
  • To pass on the benefits to the workforce

Whether we deal with a big business or a neighborhood store, whether we work with government or an investment bank, our job is to reduce management cost, raise productivity and initiative and pass on the benefits to the workforce.

It’s also our job to tell the story.  It is our job to say out loud what is happening, to hold up a mirror so that people can see themselves reducing the waste of management, enjoying their work more, and making more money.

That’s what we do.

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Unless we have a relationship with ‘the other’, we cannot believe in our success.

What happens when we connect strength with strength and hope with hope?

We know what happens, but we don’t dare hope.

Because we don’t believe the connecting steps at the edge of our group.

We know what happens but we don’t believe it will happen here.

Because we don’t believe the other has strength.

That’s why first and last, leadership begins with a leader’s belief in his followers.

We lead well when we believe in our followers, deeply.

When we believe, others believe.

When they believe, they connect,

strength with strength,

and we advance together.

And then we must trust ‘the other’ too.

And as each trusts each other, we are liberated from anxieties.

Unless we have a relationship with ‘the other’, we cannot believe in our success.

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