All Hands on Deck

The title of this post is also the apt description of how these cards went from a table in a word document to a prototype that we were able to use as part of a workshop on Social Leadership this past week.

I’ve learned a lot about myself, how I work and what my needs are in terms of production and motivation over the past couple of months as I’ve led a few different projects for Sea Salt Learning, some in a better way than others.

As someone who has built a career in sole or partnered consultancy, where each of us had clearly marked ‘fields of battle’ that we would periodically strategise about but where I had my domain, I think my past is catching up with me.

While I want and need more people to collaborate with, I am also jealously guarding my domain, inviting collaboration in non threatening spaces. Again, my ego is appearing and that dilemma,  how much of myself do I give in order to be collaborative while at the same time protecting myself? I live out here, in the wild, where I am attempting to build a reputation that I will be able to rely on when things become lean. However, how much is about that worry that all consultants must have and how much about learning to lead?

The story of the social leadership cards is one of great collaboration, where I planned, explained my vision and them let go of the project. I asked a colleague to manage the iterative process of revision and review as I knew that my time zone didn’t allow me to respond fast enough to the needs of our graphic designer. If I wanted this project to happen (and I needed it to since I had already planned time for it during the workshop) I needed to get out of the way.

It turned out superbly. The cards, yes, exciting to have them in hand, but also the way they happened. I went to sleep and in the morning, they were ready. I was able to, because of the way our team used Slack, go over the process, see the different versions that happened over the course of my teammates’ day (while I slept) and was able to respond to questions and decision points where I was tagged and my input was needed.

Working my card with Sam

I don’t think I would have been comfortable and would have been able to let go with anyone else, and I’m grateful my instinct proved right, going a long way to trusting my teammates in a way that I admit I hadn’t before.

Working virtually is sometimes isolating and on this particular small project we did a few things that I plan to carry over to future projects. These are pretty obvious, but actually implementing them into the way we work together is not so simple. They require a leap of faith, trusting those around you will break your fall.

  • Video explanation: the fist thing my product development colleague Sam asked for was a video that showed how I intended the cards to be used. It went a long way to clarifying what, to me, was self evident (what do you mean you can’t see inside my head!) like the front and back of the cards. Our graphic designer Phillip soon followed with his own.
Actual first prototype, we’ve come a long way!
  • Buddy system: Having someone to talk to about this one part of a bigger project alleviated worry. I was able to talk it through and ask for help, something we don’t always take time to do in our regular course of operations. Lots of client meetings, not many ‘just us’ meetings.
  • Daily commitment: I’m one of those people who work to a deadline. I posted a daily commitment in the team channel that I could be held accountable to. As I posted these, I learned what was realistic to expect to accomplish over a day, among my other commitments. It ended up being one thing only, but this helped me get my act together and do what I needed to do in time for others to be able to get eyes on where I needed them to.


Three things. They sound pretty simple, but I wasn’t doing them because I felt out on my own, rather than part of a team. Trust is a big part of why we do or don’t engage.


Now they’re here! Cards are here….

The first prototype in a line of versions that I see leading to a tool that will help practitioners ‘do’ social leadership, building community and collaborative relationships along the way.

How to play?

Stay tuned for a ‘launch’ message from Sea Salt Learning!

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