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I spoke at Social Media for Business ’10 the other week and in the panel session afterwards we were asked what we thought social media in the enterprise meant for leadership and management. Big question. I flannelled off some stuff about leadership through service, that the leader needs to encourage and facilitate what’s already going on rather than decide what needs to happen and then make others do it.
(Oh man, I wish I could take my own advice sometimes…)
It ties in with some of the work that’s been stuck up on the wall at #c4cc for a while – a bunch of statements of value that Frankie noted down when I was speaking about Tuttle2Texas at TEDxTuttle. They summarise the value an organisation might get from interacting with “us” whoever we are – tuttle, tuttle consulting, me & Brian & Heather, just me? That’s all for another post.
But when I’d finished writing them out it seemed to me that there was something else to it. These things are only valuable if you have a particular mindset about the people you work with. So I wrote the following things on the end, intended to summarise our assumptions about the sorts of organisations we can deliver value to. If someone is going to buy from “us” they probably will share these assumptions – that managers or leaders need to:
- be more comfortable with their own creativity;
- let go of the myth of control;
- work more effectively in groups;
- report on what they’re doing in an engaging way;
- be more responsive to changes in a market or organisational environment;
- lead people in audacious acts of innovation;
- better understand the cultural implications of what they do.
so, each of those probably needs a blog post of their own but I think that if you’re looking for ways to get the people around you to do some of the things on this list and you’re struggling then you should come and have a chat about how we can help.
“Volcanic ash can be dangerous for aircraft, causing damage, reducing visibility, and potentially clogging engines” and so there are currently no flights over the UK and much of Northern Europe.
At 8.20 tonight the NATS site said ” restrictions will remain in place in UK controlled airspace until 1300 (UK time) tomorrow, Friday 16 April, at the earliest.” and “at 0230 (UK time) tomorrow we will advise the arrangements that will be in place through to 1800 (UK time) tomorrow. However be aware that the situation cannot be said to be improving with any certainty as the forecast affected area appears to be closing in from east to west.”
As I walked through London I overheard conversations between worried tourists and businesspeople, but also jovial banter about people stuck on holiday in the south of France.
First question then is for the vulcanologists and meteorologists:
“How long will the cloud of ash stay over the UK?”
Answer is of course “We don’t know, no really, we don’t” – it depends both on the length of the eruption (it’s still going on) and on the weather conditions.
So it could be over in a few more hours. Or it could go on for months (!) Thor Thordarsson is quoted on BBC news as saying: “If the eruption has a face change and starts to produce lava… then we might be in for a much longer haul, an eruption that might last for months or even years, with a quiet period in between intermittent explosions.”
Prof Bill McGuire, professor at the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre is quoted in the same article: “it is worth noting that the last eruption of Eyjafjallajoekull lasted more than 12 months.”
That was 1821-1823 though – no jet engines to damage.
So more questions, this time for economists. In the case where the eruption continues for months:
1. What is the daily economic effect of a total ban on airtravel in the UK? (I normally hate these big numbers bandied around, but if we can do it for snow hitting London, we can make an estimate for this) What are the costs? Missed meetings, people just not being in the right place at the right time, delayed delivery of cargo etc.
2. How about that for those countries that are currently affected by the cloud?
3. How long can airlines stay in business in the face of no air travel? Are we talking days, weeks or months? When might we expect the first call for a government bail-out?
4. Which are more vulnerable to a prolonged ban, airlines or the airports?
5. Which other businesses in the air travel value chain will be seriously affected – who is highly dependent and already economically weak?
6. Who’s going to make a killing, other than Eurostar? or (gulp) the ferries?
Note: these questions are not all mine, they have came up in conversation with fine Tuttle people in the course of this evening.
I’m yet to be convinced that the internet can’t look after itself. We may need some forms of organisation to help make sure we’ve thought through the risks and continue to do the next right thing but that organisation isn’t anything that should be modelled on governments or corporations. It needs to be native to the net and it will emerge in the same way that organisations have emerged on the net before. That’s how the net looks after itself, it adapts.
In 1997 or so, I remember talking to my then boss about what an intranet might look like for our team and how it differed from the internet and how it might be useful to us. If you were around in those days, you’ll be familiar with that conversation with someone who kind of got some elements of what the web was about it but wasn’t rooted in the culture like us. It’s pretty much the same one that people have been having about social media for the last few years.
We then drifted onto the idea of .com and what commerical entities on the web (we were part of government and so could sit and theorize about such things) might do with this new thing and how they might behave. I was very bullish about this. I’d just come from the Computing Department of the University of Surrey where I’d been immersed (probably to the detriment of my degree class, but hugely to my personal benefit) in usenet and the nascent web-culture.
I was quite sure that there’d be a fight. A fight between the cold commercial forces of capitalism and the warm, fuzzy, hippy-dippy types committed to openness and co-operation and collaboration for the greater good. And naturally “we” would win.
And how did it turn out? What actually happened? Well I don’t think there was a big battle – both sides lost something, both won something – we all adapted and the web became something that had a more commercial heart, but wasn’t just another channel for business as usual.
Is the web now full of people wanting to make a quick buck, pushing advertisements and 20th Century mass production business models in our faces? Well yes and no. Is the web full of anarcho-hippies, knitting their own yoghurt and urging us all to wear sandals? Well yes and no. Both extremes exist but can be ignored if you wish. Where the really interesting stuff is, is in the middle where social entrepreneurs are creating new value in many forms, giving stuff away, being open about their processes, sharing but still making enough money to enjoy a comfortable standard of living. More than that we’re finding new ways of working together, organising and making stuff happens that benefits us and the whole community.
My personal experience with Tuttle has been that the network is much stronger and more robust than we imagine. Whenever it get’s a push against it, it either repels invaders or morphs into something similar enough to still be Tuttle, but different enough to survive.
So yes, I remain to be convinced that the accelarant properties of the cloud are any more of a risk to the cultural effects that we value than any other infrastructure changes we’ve seen.
Counterpoint will publish Charles Leadbeater’s report Cloud Culture on 8th February with a debate and conversations at the ICA featuring Catherine Fieschi, Charles Leadbeater, Ekow Eshun, Paul Hilder and me. If you haven’t booked a ticket yet, there are still some left here
I just got access to Twitter Lists – the feature where you can create and publish lists of people to follow. The obvious thing for me to do is to make a Tuttle list, innit? But I’m not, and I can’t and here’s why:
You’re a member of Tuttle if and when you decide you are, it’s nothing to do with me. Now if you really misbehave and hurt people in the group or something (it’s never happened yet) I might ask you to leave and not come back (it’s never happened yet) but that remains a hypothetical case.
So I don’t know who should be on the list, and I can’t and I shouldn’t – that’s what decentralized power means, it’s none of it up to me, it’s up to you. If I made a list, I can guarantee you two things: 1) I would miss someone out and 2) I’d put someone on there that someone else doesn’t think belongs (say they came only came once and you didn’t see them) and every week I’d have a god-awful job of asking new people if they wanted to go on the list or something. Blaaah. No. Not going to happen.
So now I’m pondering what it means about Twitter (the company) and their attitude to centralisation, personal choice, list-making and popularity contests. But it’s time for bed.
I remember reading, somewhere, something like: “As a blogger, if you’re not writing enough, it’s probably because you’re not reading enough” I don’t believe that’s true, I think it probably only applies if you’re the type of blogger who only writes about what other people have written, but somehow it got stuck, wedged into the part of my brain that somehow doesn’t like me sitting and writing and publishing stuff on the web and so it gets in the way every time I go anywhere near the “New Post” button.
The same bit of my brain that lures me into Google Reader and Twitter far too often. “I need to read a little bit more and then I’ll get down to writing.”
No. The only thing that gets me writing (and I love writing, I really enjoy it and I always feel good when I’ve done some) is sitting down and writing. Reading just takes up time, gives me little ideas that get squirrelled away in my head and rattle around like acorns. They rarely get out where they were supposed to go (here, on the blog) and just add to my levels of anxiety, depression and occasional psychotic delusion – which tend, to be honest, to get in the way of writing too.
Oh that’s better.
It’s very easy to get paralysed at the moment. Either stuck in the headlights of the juggernaut coming to crush your industry or befuddled by the sheer number of possibilities, choices, opportunities.
One thing I hope that I do for people is to give them some thinking space by saying “Hey yes, it’s all quite uncertain and generally a bit scary, but I’m willing to hold up the ceiling that seems to be crumbling and about to crush you all, while you finish your conversation”. OK so it’s not always that dramatic. You should know by now that I’m prone to melodrama, but you get the idea.
Many people tell me they value Tuttle for that reason, that it gives them time out from worrying about what they’re going to do next, time to think but also time to look around and see what’s really going on.
Someone once told me that when they were recruiting creatives, they knew they’d struck gold when they found someone willing to hold uncertainty for themselves and others.
The consulting work we did together last week (which continues tomorrow) felt a bit like that too. It seems to be something people value and something that people find hard to do for themselves.
So. y’know. yeah.
Now this feels weird.
It started with a tweet, like so many things in my life today.
And of course a bit of banter arose and a hashtag was suggested #LloydDavis4MP but then I started to talk to other people about it and realised that they were taking the proposition seriously, being encouraging saying things like “Oh yes, I think that would be marvellous” So I’m writing about it here so that I’m quite sure that I’m not being blindly selective and only telling people who I know would be supportive but also to better understand what I might do next.
Because I’m up for it, I think. It fits very well with making social art and building community, which is what I (and others) see myself doing. I’m just not sure how.
I see our current national political system suffering from similar issues to those faced by other large organisations – that large-scale centralised bureaucracies do some things extremely efficiently but mostly at the cost of the people who are supposed to be served by them as well as the people who spend their time trying to run them. I think that working out what it might mean to run this country (or any country) in the next century is something worth putting time and energy into.
The expenses row shows just how vulnerable the system is to abuse of trust. I’m quite sure, from the gobsmacked faces and embarrassed shuffling that most MPs considered they were playing the game as it’s supposed to be played and that from their perspective, the goalposts have been moved. Yes, they knew it was probably wrong, but everyone seemed to be doing it and it’s easy in that situation to tell yourself that you’re doing the right thing. Very easy, that is, if the only people you talk to about it are other people who are engaged in the same activity.
So there’s a choice for those of us who see that change is needed. I could write about this over and over and work out what I think and tell other people what they should do or should believe and engage in endless conversations about policy and designing a better system, or I could say, y’know what, I don’t think it’s possible to stand outside a human system and tinker with it, design a desirable future state and then implement it – that’s the process that got us into this mess and innumerable messes before. I think we have to participate in our democracy in a much more active way.
Which brings me to our current parties. I joined the Labour Party in 1983, soon after the second Thatcher election victory. It felt like a grim time. I was a 1 in 10, a number on a list. The economic base that most people at that time had believed would be with us forever, manufacturing industry, was being swept away, restructured or sold off. I instinctively disliked the hard-headed, stubborn, dogmatic and combative style of the Tory party under Thatcher – I preferred the being hard-headed, stubborn, dogmatic and combative in my *own* way, and on the side of people more like my family and friends, so I joined the Labour Party Young Socialists (which for those unacquainted with the history of such things, means what the press at the time dubbed “The Militant Tendency” though that wasn’t what I thought I was getting into at the time). And then throughout the 1980s I took part in political activity that didn’t work. At a local and national level, we lost again and again. I wasn’t forced out of the party over Clause IV or for being a member of a party within a party or anything like that, the reality was that when my son was born in 1991, I had just been made redundant and I needed to spend more time on caring for my own family than fighting for others. I have voted in every election I’ve been entitled to and on each occasion I’ve voted Labour or spoiled the ballot paper where there was no Labour candidate. And perversely I’ve always lived in Conservative constituencies – the only time that the candidate I voted for has won has been in District Council and European elections. But now I’m done with combat and dogma of whatever flavour and you should judge me on what I do and say today, not the things I went through on the way.
And now I feel quite distanced from any of the parties. They don’t seem to live in the same world as the rest of us. They seem to be still trying to play the same game and the game has become more important than the original function.
Those of you who’ve seen me at Tuttle will, I hope, have seen me being of service to the group, to the community. The more that I’ve done that, the more I’ve let go of trying to run it, or make it go in a particular direction, the more successful it has been and the more I’ve enjoyed being part of it. I’d like the opportunity to try that out on a grander scale. And representing local people at a national level seems where there’s most improvement to be made.
We’re all quite exercised about how public servants should act with integrity and honesty – my definition of integrity is simple – you do what you say on the tin – you are open and clear about the principles that you apply when making decisions and you do what you said you’d do.
So the idea of standing as an independent candidate is quite appealing, running on a ticket of integrity and true service. And I’m attracted to serving Bromsgrove because I lived there, I know and love the town and because they seem to have had a rough deal with MPs for a while. I’m open though to doing something elsewhere or accepting that I’m completely wrong about the whole thing and should just get on with something else.
And of course, I have some interesting ideas about how my knowledge of the use of the social web could support both a campaign and the day-to-day business of being a sitting MP.
I’m very interested in what others think on this. Are there qualities that you think I’m lacking? Can you see a more suitable way for me to contribute to this issue?
I’d only had fictional accounts of Bletchley Park until yesterday. I’m really glad that I took the opportunity to go up and sample it first hand for one of the StationX social media cafe events.
I first heard of Bletchley Park in 1986 when I saw the pre-west-end run of the stage version of Breaking the Code with Derek Jacobi as Alan Turing at the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford. It’s a hugely touching human story of course but also intriguing that so much was going on during the war that we had no idea about.
I went at some point around 1991 I think, to a Computer Conservation Society open day at the Science Museum and Tony Sale was talking about the prospect of rebuilding Colossus. Some people were looking at him clearly thinking he was bonkers, but he did it nonetheless.
Then I read Robert Harris’s Enigma about ten years later when I was in need of fiction to read just after my finals. It is fiction, it is a bit Ripping Yarns but it’s also thrilling and brings the whole story to life.
So I was not at all surprised at what I saw when I arrived yesterday morning. It was good to see Christian as always and Bill Thompson was there, recording some stuff for his Digital Planet show. Highlights were the ever growing National Museum of Computing with it’s mainframe room, new PC gallery and nascent supercomputing room with a stonking great CRAY YMP-EL sitting in the middle of it. Adam Bradley is working on getting it going, apparently. He’s 14.
Then we popped over to the mansion and a special treat to be allowed to see and photograph inside Station X itself, an MI6 transmission station, high up in the tower. I heard yesterday that the X is like the X in OS-X it just means Station Ten, rather than being anything particularly top secret, although of course it was, y’know, particularly top secret.
Another unexpected treat was the cinema and film projection museum. Real geekgasm material here, mainly because it was such a surprise to find it all in such a small nondescript building. Great place for a solobasssteve gig, I think. By the time we got to the reconstructed bombe machine, I was running short of time and blood sugar. But there’s still an awful lot more to see. I’ll be back.
One particular idea that Christian floated was to turn some of the derelict concrete buildings into a geek warren – make it safe, run in a big fat net pipe, add some soft furnishings and get some use out of the space again at least for a few years, with a use that’s congruent with the place’s history for housing the sharpest mathematical and computing minds.
And if you haven’t done so before or recently, chuck some money in the pot to keep them going.