The key to success in the networked age? Just look around and be humbled


Curiosity killed the cat (Credits - Stuff by Cher)

Curiosity killed the cat (Credits – Stuff by Cher)

(Another older post that I just finalise here before I get on with new stuff based on your feedback)

When I was a child, one of the sayings that finger-wagging adults liked to throw at me and fellow little people was that ‘la curiosité est un vilain défaut’ – Curiosity killed the cat.

How much we have moved on from that age when staying where we are was the desired end state. A neverending never changing state. Now the only thing that never changes is change itself, though even that is not true because the pace of change is increasing – and so is our need to connect to others, with curiosity, and a little something else, of great importance.

Humility

As modern knowledge workers, we have to connect the dots, we have to find others, build trust with them, and do ‘stuff’ together. If ‘In complex initiatives, expert predictions of outcomes are barely better than flipping a coin‘, we must harness collective intelligence. And that will not happen with alpha male chest-beating behaviour but with humility, the other godmother of learning (remember the happy families of engagement?) next to curiosity.

Being humble doesn’t mean we don’t know where we’re headed and think everyone else does stuff better than us or better stuff than us; it just means that we recognise we are trying to do something (or some things) without full certainty, and are open enough to hear what others do in relation, and occasionally pick up useful elements from their approach.

The path to wisdom is paved with effectiveness, focus, humility and empathy and just so we learn by being intently open to any signal that may improve our own understanding and thought-processing, set of practices and attitude. Any opportunity is good to power up another segment of the collective brain grid, the common energy grid of intent, purpose and calling (something I’ve written about before).

We can keep our criticism about, we should question our education and educate our questions but this is no longer the time to be cocky, know-it-all and ‘go it alone’. We need specialists in this complex world, but only combined with other talents.

Humility, being ‘in over our head’ is what keeps us sharp and connected. It’s a non-negotiable in the networked, agile, constant learning age, unless you’re the best in the world at what you do. And even then, arguably…

Want some spicy questions, Nadia?

  • How come leadership still seems overwhelmingly attracted to alpha-male, know-it-all styles?
  • Is humility enough to be a good modern knowledge worker? What other traits of personality allow us to be agile, ever-learning, increasingly effective?
  • If humility was considered to be assessed (or even measured) in an organisation – for broad effectiveness – how would we do so to qualify it?

I’m all ears…

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Facilitation and collective action back on the menu… big time!


(Disclaimer for Nadia, Russell and others who commented on this post [and see feedback/results here by the way]: This post was drafted before and thus does not yet reflect some of the changes that I hope to bring into this blog based on your collective feedback…)

Lots of different happenings in the world of event/process facilitation as far as I’m concerned – lots of useful links and ideas that might inspire you too…

Graphic Facilitation with Nancy White (Credits: Gauri Salokhe / FlickR)

Graphic Facilitation with Nancy White (Credits: Gauri Salokhe / FlickR)

I’ve finally gotten into reading ‘The surprising power of liberating structures‘, and what a platinum mine of useful reflections, methods, tips, designs etc. a real gem for all collective action process (and event) facilitators… It’s perhaps the best recent thing I can think about that might help me revive the post collection ‘The Chemistry of Magical Facilitation

I’ve been following some LinkedIn groups (particularly the ‘Professional facilitators network‘ – mind that this link requires login) on facilitation with excellent insights. This is some incentive for me to actually blog more about facilitation… and perhaps even start a blog on facilitation as it’s a slightly different topic than strictly agile KM and learning (even though the two are interlinked for their focus on learning and collective action).

Another interesting idea came my way this week, prompted by my colleague Peter Ballantyne: the walkshops – an idea that the UK’s Institute for Development Studies has piloted and reflected upon. This is something to try out, and I think I just might in what could possibly become the third workshop focused on CGIAR communication and management for CGIAR research programs (or kmc4CRP ;)). Actually last week for an ILRI Comms meeting we had a walking session and it was a hit.

Perhaps most importantly, me and a group of fellow KM4Devers are thinking about focusing on facilitation, for the issue 11.1 (May 2015) of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. We are still debating the exact focus, as we’re rather struggling with too many ideas than too few. Our initial thoughts are available here. I personally hope we will cover blended facilitation (online/offline), moving away from events to fold into longer engagement and learning processes, modern uses of technology (using phones, clothes and other smart devices) to get groups to evolve, the distribution of facilitation and developing an empowering leadership culture as well as how capacity development comes into the picture. At last, I don’t despair finding time to come up with my own facilitation approaches – notably mimicking patterns found in nature and among animals. Wild, eh?

At last, I’ve had some conversation with Nancy White about doing an online (recorded) conversation for already quite a while, to feature on our blogs, and I think this ‘facilitation’ topic could very well be the topic we might want to zoom in on, but that is something Nancy and I need to co-create so certainly not certainty there 😉

Amidst all of this, I actually have a lot of events to facilitate in the coming months so time to kick myself out of comfort zone and to try daring new ideas and approaches. Wish me luck in changing myself, it’s never a given 😉 !

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See all posts under the category ‘Facilitation’

Sharing and feedback done, now learning and change to go…


And so the results of the feedback survey on this blog are in (though you can still vote here). A big THANK YOU to you all for chipping in! View the results via the link from the survey box below.

So: 19 votes pleading for more KM and more communication, and perhaps less on M&E. Two very valuable comments. One attached to the post ‘Fire your frank feedback and forecast what follows on Agile KM for me & you‘ and the other one below:

Ewen, nice strategy of engaging with your readers; I would suggest asking for domain/subject suggestions that might be of interest. The reason I skip your blog, at times, is because:- it is either too jargon filled and too much jargon suggests a closed language world and leads to inclusion and exclusion dynamics;- your blog is too much a reworking of other stuff and there is no personal or original thinking in there- as i am increasingly moving away from international development and working on regional and local issues, once again i am struck by this divide we have managed to make the international development and domestic/local focus; this is fascinating, it shows that there are different worlds (of thinking and working) around. I do not know if this is bridgeable, it is an area of longstanding concern.Good luck and keep on blogging and thinking out loud …. see john Stepper http://johnstepper.com/2014/05/24/the-best-peer-support-group-for-your-career/

Where does this leave me? With a number of excellent pointers which I will try and apply, though of course I also follow my own intuition and will not keep stuck with one way of doing things, or blogging in this context.

  • Use more visuals;
  • Write shorter posts;
  • Use spicy questions;
  • Avoid jargon;
  • More personal thinking;

And you might have your own ideas still about what other things I need to change…

In the meantime, before I process this feedback into the posts, here’s what’s boiling on this blog’s pan for the next weeks and months (that I can foresee now):

  • More reflections about event/process facilitation in relation with a number of important events and happenings;
  • Some counter-reactions to ‘Working out loud’ and getting it work collectively;
  • The sequel to Anatomy of learning: how we (individuals) make sense of information which will feature my very own thinking indeed (but it may take some time);
  • Smart consultant practices for modern organisations;
  • … and your topics of choice? Will you let me know…

Oh, and I reckon improving this blog is not just about visuals, but also about audio cues. So before I get seriously into this, here’s one for Richard Martin who confessed he loved references to Radiohead…

Let me get this blog to see improvements trickle down the pyramid, Richard!

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