Demystification attempt #1

It’s a new year. I’m writing and working from the wilds of Canada, in Nelson, BC. A new home and a new office for a new year. Is it a new me? (Ha, no. Just a resurrection of the old me, more to follow). Apologies for what ended up being a close up of my breakfast… Of course my new desk looks nothing so neat now.

It was pretty difficult for me to get back into the swing of work after a long holiday, filled with lots of time just for me! But, get back into it I did. It’s easy to do when I am able to execute my much needed formula for remote work while working on a project that captures my full attention.

In preparation for a workshop I am designing and co-facilitating, I have to explain Social Leadership in laymen’s terms (part of a bigger project, will share more when it’s ready!). As if to a 5 year old was the request! I’m sharing the result for your benefit and also to sense check. The story is based on the Social Leadership cards I developed last year and the Handbook (see above link).

These few words turned out to be a great brain exercise that happened in a few parts. I wanted to focus on Narrative, because this was the part that gave the most trouble to the participants in a previous workshop I developed. First I tried to draw my thinking.


This was a good exercise because it helped me understand that this wasn’t going to help me… I realized I wouldn’t be able to fit everything on a page and it inadequately conveyed my thinking. Not surprising since I had a previous attempt last year, live, that failed miserably (there is a photo… somewhere).

This attempt is more along the lines of a story. I’ve attempted to explain in clear terms, without reverting to jargon.

Narrative is the outward expression of your passion and interest. In the course of your work and the connections you have made with people, either online or offline, you have identified recurrent themes. From the stories you hear, the articles you read, the videos you watch, the podcasts you listen to, the books you read, the conferences you go to, the speakers you identify with, the community or network you are a part of, the shows you watch. All of these sources of information inform your understanding of the world. And from these sources of information, based on your values and interests, you make a path. The path is defined by all the information and people around you. The more people ask questions, challenge it, knock up against it, the more you talk about it, elucidate and deepen your understanding of your path. You learn what it’s boundaries are, and you are able to decide which direction it will go, based on your learnings and reflections about the information and people around you. The path is your Narrative.

In the ‘wild’ (on the open web), a social leader’s path emerges purely from values and interests. In an organizational context, a social leader negotiates the tension between the organization’s values and vision and their own. In an organizational context, the social leader contributes to the organizations values and vision, however is able to find and exploit the commonalities in vision and values between themselves and the organization.

When a social leader goes online and reads, watches, listens, they exercise their critical thinking skills. They have learned to discipline their minds, to take in information without losing focus (Rheingold, 2010). They actively discover and interpret the information they receive, they examine it, try to understand it and evaluate whether it is relevant to their focus. They make sense of the noise by curating. When a social leader curates, they determine what pieces of information are valuable, to themselves based on their values and interests. They are active, interpreting the world around them and relating it to themselves. They find the meaning in what they read, see and hear and they share that information with people they know because they think it will be useful and relevant to them. They share certain information in certain channels, depending on the narrative that is represented in that channel. For example, they actively decide and choose which platforms to share professional or personal information on. By sharing, they help others succeed. Social leaders not only share information received from others, but also connect the dots by reflecting on what they have read, seen and heard.

They share their perception based on what they have seen, heard, and read, by telling thoughtful stories that describe their context: where they work, what they do, what they see around them, expressing their views, either in agreement or disagreement, their opinions and their experiences. They communicate their perceptions with others, refining the language they need to express their ideas with every telling, both on and offline (rehearsal space). They invite questions, challenges and feedback from others. The more they tell stories, either in written or other form, they hone in on emergent ideas and concepts that occur again and again along a common path.

In the wild, their narrative will emerge from the stories they share, as themes and ideas reoccur. In an organisational context, the social leader creates a narrative out of the tension between the organisation’s values and vision and their own values, interests and experiences in the organizational context. The more they tell stories, share what they see, hear, read, the more solid, the more concrete their ideas, and their path, becomes. The wheat becomes separated from the chaff. They more they share what they deem or perceive to be valuable to others, the more they define their path. They are increasingly seen as someone who provides useful information and thinking along a certain theme.



An Agile feeling

I have an agile feeling. I don’t know if we’re doing this right, but what we’re doing feels right. Is this agile?

Work on the Social Leadership in Practice continues with Kate. After writing the user stories, we chose one that seemed to be the path of least resistance and decided on a way to address it. We decided that each of us would interview two out of four people we agreed were identifiable to us, based on reputation and character, as social leaders. After the interviews, today, we shared our initial thoughts, the ‘headlines’ of our analysis, to see if there was any common ground in each interview. Then we agreed on four themes to focus on, and write together based on examples from the interviews. This is where we’re at.

As a new team, we are building a kind of rhythm and some habits that we will be able to use to drive other ideas.

Doing the interviews did two things: gave more information about the topic and also inspired us to move forward with another mini project.

Working quickly together, to produce something in order to learn what value it has in our context, among our communities. It’s difficult to know what will gain traction before testing the waters.
Is this agile?

We are also learning about how we like to work. Interviews very fun to do, really long to analyse. Factoring in extra thinking time is important for the next one.

Our next experiment is from something that came out of the interviews: stories about how people got started. Each of our interviewees shared their beginning story. So we will see if we can get permission to share it or do a rudimentary recording and share that. It still responds to the same user story though. Is that agile?

It is a good way to understand more about social leadership in practice. Yet, it has less to do with the practice than with how the practice evolves.

For example, I’m currently running the beta testing the Social Leadership cards, and some feedback came in today. One person told a story about how she was using them,

The idea of a blog is something that makes me a bit nervous to be honest. I do value many blogs I’ve read. I’ve started looking at the approaches of others who share; I need to find my own style. Time to grab it and do something with it.

I added the bold. This was a pretty strong theme we identified. The beginning, the ‘leap’, the courage to start. And to continue. These are things I think about too. And I found it interesting to hear how others are doing it. So that’s the basis for sharing as well. I think it fulfills the user story better than the one we are doing now, but builds off of this one. That idea could not have existed without the learning we did, and continue!

I’m appreciating the experimental quality of the way we are working. We don’t know the answers, but every time we deliver something to test, we get a deeper understanding. Not just of the topic, but of how we work together and what form the eventual product will take.

Flexible in life does not mean Agile at work

I made my new year’s resolution a couple of months ago and I couldn’t wait until the new year to start (you’ll understand why when I tell you what it is).

My resolution is to follow through. Two words that, in my world, are a huge challenge. Ideas are cheap for me, I can trade them like currency. They are never lacking in any situation, any conversation. In fact, I actually have to work hard to rein them in. A friend once told me to stop spouting my ideas at her when she was catching me up and telling me about some challenges she was facing at the time. “What?!” I asked, “what do you mean?”

“Ya, I can’t just tell you how it’s going, you give me unsolicited solutions. I don’t need you to solve my problems”

Whoa. (We’re still friends!)

You know those moments when someone says something small, and it shines a light on your perception of yourself, and you realize that how you thought you were is not how others see you? Ya, that.

My resolution is to take an idea and follow it through. To the bitter end. Through the not fun valley of Making a Plan, through Checklist central and Process City. That’s how I thought of it. Trying to be methodical, and disciplined. Follow through is hard! Some people call it delivering, people write about how to do it. I’ve spent the past 12 months learning that discipline is not one of my strong points (See frequency of my blog posts). If I have to do something, it feels really hard to do alone. And reach the end feeling good. I don’t want to just feel good at the end though, I want to feel energised, ready to tackle the next thing. Part of a team, doing cool sh*t. To do that, I need people. Others get me energised & motivated, whether it’s exercise, or a new project.

My technique for making sure I work out? Sign up for a class of something. That way I’m accountable, I’m on the list, I have to go. I’m taking a similar approach with follow through: get other people involved. Suddenly, it’s not just me knowing I didn’t do that thing I said I was going to. Suddenly, if I don’t do that thing, it contributes to my reputation as a flake. I don’t want to be a flake!

I want to be a collaborator, a coworker, cocreator. I want to work with other people, foster community, be excited about what I’m doing. That’s what that means to me.

Hence, the resolution. It’s one thing to resolve though.

And this takes me to Agile. With a capital A.

Until I embarked on Agile (product development), the recipe for arriving at my goal was pretty straightforward and I had been doing things this way for awhile. As I’ve said before, solo consultant here, ready and able to be a one man show, pulling others along behind me, to create a whirlwind of discipline and action. I had an idea, found someone who could build it, and did it. But I found that the build was imperfect, there was usually something missing, or what I saw in my head didn’t translate into the product. I’m thinking of Storybox here. Classic example (not dead yet!)

Follow Through means a few different things to me. This resolution also represents a change in the way I want to work. Towards co-ownership. Towards a team approach, team buy-in. I don’t want projects to feel like a struggle anymore. I’m ok if I have to struggle, but with others, not against.

I wrote a post about Social Leadership in Practice, a project I am working on with Kate. Well, last week we started the project, in an Agile product development manner, with Sam kindly coaching us to get us started. First thing to do, user stories.

Day 2 of User Stories

Now, I’m a person who completely supports the idea of Agile. The theory looks fantastic. People working togeher, testing, iterating, reviewing, getting feedback from a community. Wow. I’m in. I love it. Of course, acceptance in theory meant my guard was down when it came to reality.  Writing user stories forced my mind in a direction I a) wasn’t aware that I would resist b) back to how I felt when I was forced to sit down at a desk and do math homework in school. In short, writing these made me feel like my head was in a vise.

Definitely not into User Stories

I kept thinking: I already know what I want to do! I have a vision, I have a collaborator, I know exactly what I want. All the ingredients are already here. How can I make these user stories say something that leads me to be able to do what I want to do?

Remember I mentioned before, those moments where your perception of yourself is challenged? I had one of those. I started asking questions, challenging, resisting! I realized that I don’t really take users into account. I design for me. To try new approaches, new ways of doing things. Projects are an excuse to try out different ways of getting a message across.

I’m not saying I’m completely converted. However, the exercise started us (Kate and I) in a dialogic process, and towards a truly co-owned outcome. It gave us permission to try something out, do something fun that fulfills what we want to do, but also is ‘quick and dirty’ enough that we can put it out rapidly, and see what response we get. It also took us in a direction that I think can be broken down into many smaller, iterable bits, just from one story.

And we have something like 15. So we have fodder for awhile. But we’ll need to keep revising and writing user stories. Simplifying them.

I’m a nomad, I explore, I work remotely sometimes with people I have never met, on projects I don’t understand. Flexible is one of the words I use to describe myself. I definitely can go with the flow. But Agile is a different matter. Just starting this way of working exposed my inner iron. I definitely have a stubborn streak!

Trying new ways of working can be a chore. It required my open mind and a modicum of self awareness, self understanding, to be able to observe why I was reacting the way I was. That I was reacting. That I was resisting. And to allow myself to do that. I told myself “I only have to try it, that way I can say I did.” I said I could do it once or twice and see what happened. I only really understood what the potential was yesterday, after sitting, stewing with it, hating it for a week.

Sometimes, you just have to turn your brain off. Let things percolate in the back there, unseen, until you pick it back up again and something clicks.

Learning Design and Learning Architecture

One of the challenging things that I sometimes get to explain is my relationship with Sea Salt Learning. In and of itself, it is pretty straightforward. However, what is challenging is that it doesn’t really resemble anyone’s understanding of the construct we all know as a ‘job’.

The easy answer is that: that’s because it’s not a job. I’m not an employee. I don’t work for anyone but my clients, and as such, I hold the work I do to a high standard.

I’m a consultant with a consulting firm. But really, I think of it as a collective. A group of people doing together what they could not do alone. As a highly collaborative, creative minded soul who gets energy and motiation from my conversations with others, this is a big and necessary part of my work.

This brings me to the topic for today. What is my work? As part of a start up, that is a constantly evolving thing, but I am beginning to understand who I am in relation to others, what type of work I am best at and where I need additional coaching. On my business card, as a Sea Salt Learning representative, it says Social Learning Designer. I don’t find that this encompasses quite what I do however. Yes, I have an understanding of Julian’s ideas on scaffolded social learning and can talk about them, even design to them if that is what is on order. However, I find myself, as I gain opportunity to work on different types of projects, coming back to my “roots”, my first loves: transformative learning and informal learning.

It’s not all that surprising that I am drawn by these ideas, as a self directed person, who has spent some time doing self work, I gravitate to the question of change, spaces that change occurs in, and how to build opportunities for learning and change. This sentence, this idea is really what informed my approach as a teacher, as an instructional designer, and now, as as learning architect.

I am claiming that title. Learning design happens within the architecture. However, we must first think about the architecture, the bare framework that will host learning and change. What technologies would work best? What methodologies should we adopt, that best meet our goals and objectives? A good design will work within the greater architecture, taking into account the motives, and tools available. Within an architecture, there will be many designs, many ways of learning, and different topics, that all serve this overarching architecture. At an organizational level, this boggles my mind. I can start a bit smaller though and make sure my ideas are scalable.

My interpretation of those two loaded terms might be far off. However, they help me express how I design. Here are three ideas that guide me when I design learning opportunities:

  • we do our most memorable and effective learning from our peers
  • a behavioural change will not happen without a mindset or perspective change
  • change cannot be taught, it must be fostered (Mezirow).

Given these three ideas, I necessarily take the long view when thinking about design. What is the end goal? What is the perspective change that we are trying to bring about? And work backwards from there (a la positive psychology).

I won’t tell people exactly what they will learn, defined by objectives. It is delicate to tell people that the workshop they are attending is designed to change them. That is a sure way to put people’s backs up! However, it is fair to talk about the topics that we will cover.

These are some initial thoughts about learning architecture, design and how I like to operate. I look forward to your questions and comments (I find these help me to challenge and advance my thinking).

If you know of any additional resources I should be aware of regarding any of the ideas mentioned, please do write them as a comment!

Social Leadership in Practice

I’ve come down to Hood River, OR for the weekend to work on an idea that has two objectives. 1) to be an example of social leadership in practice and 2) to provide a resource about social leadership for those who are interested in starting and are struggling with where to begin.

Ssh! Rocky is still sleeping after the epic drive from Seattle. Good job buddy! 

The term ‘social leadership’ is used to mean different things. In this instance, I use it to relate it to a book I have been tasked with “teaching”. In my opinion, this concept, as it is understood by Julian Stodd, cannot necessarily be taught. It can be tried, and tested, explored and reflected on, yes. However, I cannot tell you “how to do it”.

In fact, I make it my business, literally, not to tell anyone how to do ‘it’. It has to be incorporated into a personal change journey, it speaks to the base values that you hold as a human being active in the world. It is a suggestion, a framework that can be played with, experimented upon until the version that fits with you, with your wants, and desires, your needs, emerges.

This is a difficult way to approach anything. Especially now that social everything is everywhere. We get information from so many sources, we barely have time to think about it. To do anything with it. Yet more and more organizations are changing their approach to learning and development, seeing the potential of a decentralized, democratized learning system. Tapping into the workforce for stories of experience can build a highly collaborative and innovative culture. However, navigating the information, and sharing information out does not come naturally to everyone.

“People with agency”, those mythical beasts! Who have clear goals and objectives thrive in this seemingly chaotic environment. They do this naturally: taking and sorting, synthesizing the information newly available and running with it. For people like me however, it can sometimes be overwhelming. I’ve spent the past 14 months (since I met Julian and got my hands on his first edition) testing, trying, seeing what works for me. Why? I saw this take on social leadership as a way to help me channel my values and interests, creating in me a sense of agency that can be seen by others, in the trail I leave behind.

In collaboration with another curator, Kate Ensor and (hopefully, eventually!) other curators, the proposal is to create a social leadership in practice narrative, drawing from relevant and active members of this burgeoning community spcifically with a view to providing a resource for practitioners.

In an of itself, I want it to be a space people can refer to, hear stories about, share challenges of, social leadership. Really, it’s a space that will help us to make sense of the noise and connect the dots, by helping others do the same.

I’ve just finished going over the notes from today, which was a truly co-creative day! We came up with some basic understandings, a manifesto if you will, for this resource:

  • No part of the Social Leadership framework can exist independently of the other. Identifying an element as a goal or challenge to work towards requires a holistic approach, each element of the framework helps work towards that goal.
  • Where I go, what I do with social leadership is based on my values and interests.
  • One person does not need to perfect each element of the framework. There is no legendary Social Leader status. Understanding where you are and identifying goals will help you to find others who complement you, who can help ‘fill the gaps’*
  • Social leadership is about change. It is a way to navigate a rapidly changing world, improving personal resilience and flexibility, a path to innovation and continued inspiration, and a way to lead a values driven career.

*The third one goes against the text in the definition I provided above (I noticed this as I pasted it in). This is a philosophical difference perhaps, in which I do not think that there is mastery here. Based on the first point, there will be different versions and iterations of success, depending on what your goals are. I don’t think one person can or should aim for all of everything. There is no state of social leadership nirvana.

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!

Feedback is tough.

Feedback is tough.
As part of the first edition of the Journal of the Social Age, a group of people volunteered to read and give feedback on submissions, as part of a peer review process.
On paper, feedback should work, it’s pretty straightforward: read something and give your opinion. But there is no better way to get a glimpse into how subjective it is, both the giving and the receiving, than to ask people to do it.

I was up front about the fact that this was an experiment, that we were attempting to co-create a collection of thoughts from the Twitter learning community. The words are one thing though. They don’t cover other people’s needs or expectations. That kind of disclaimer is a safety net to catch you when something goes wrong, when someone’s expectations fail to be met.

During the first review team meeting, I learned that people want criteria, want a way to assess work. During the first reading, I learned how different my review style was to my peers. Some focused on mechanics. Others on format. During the critical friendship period I learned how this feedback relationship does not just materialize (except when we’re lucky) and that each person’s notion of it is different. Each person’s evaluation of its success is different.

The idea of feedback, feedback in its most idealised form, is aspirational. The reality I found is that you have to put as much thought into who will read what, who will give feedback as you do into who to hire, who to choose for your team. Personal style matters, and when it’s not there things can backfire.

I have a to do list for next time, because I’m not giving up. The negative outcomes of this experience are as valuable as the positive ones, and both inform my learning and ideas about how to ‘do’ the next edition.

The reason I don’t want to give up is because I see this project as a way to show what cocreation can yield. What can emerge when people are put in each other’s way.

Thanks @eGeeking for inspiring this post with your own story!

Me, organizing a Journal? What?!

A non-academic peer-reviewed journal. An experiment in validity and rigour, in writing and storytelling. In providing a space for people to express themselves and an opportunity to co-create.

For me, it’s about putting all this talk of social collaboration into action, exploring ways that I can contribute, collaborate, co-create in a meaningful way. As an instructional designer I will also have my analytical hat on. How is this accomplished, received? What challenges behind productive networks and communities? I can read all about it (and in fact I have). However, I deeply believe in informal learning, experience being the mother of knowledge. It’s interesting how my current path is actually just a reemergence of a path I’ve been on for awhile (see photo of an article I found while going through my boxes during my visit back home to Canada).


AKA “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” -Lao Tzu

I’m a person who has many, many ideas. Things I want to do, accomplish. I’ve always known I can’t do many things alone, but in practice I usually do work alone. Things don’t move fast enough for me, I get impatient. Then I go, go, go until I have no energy or interest left and move on to the next idea. This experience has been an exercise in purposeful collaboration for me. Actually collaborating, working out loud, asking for feedback on initial thoughts, learning what to expect from who in a new network of people.

Beyond the Journal is the building and fostering of a network of fellow collaborators, creative people who are genuinely interested in and open to working together without an expectation of immediate reciprocity in many different areas. Eliminating transaction from the equation and pushing the world towards altruism, towards a way of being that build relationships over time. That requires trust, transparency, courage. In a world of immediacy, surrounded by solutions, the answer to all of life’s problems, I am not looking for answers. I am looking for an opportunity to ask questions, and for others to ask me questions, to challenge me. Critical in the constructive sense.

I’ve come across the concept of ‘critical friendship’ in the last couple of months and my immediate reaction was “yes! Where has this been all my life?!” This is part of the process I am interested in using for this journal (shamelessly imitating the person who introduced me to this concept). I will be experiencing it as a friendee by writing a piece for one journal while simultaneously being a friender as I organize the peer review process for the Journal of the Social Age.

This experience has highlighted my strengths and made me work on those lesser known qualities (to myself and others). It’s a space I get to play in, where I test different ways of using the tools and tech available, different ways of finding people, of inviting collaboration, different versions of myself: the project manager me, the writer me, the mobiliser me.

The deadline for submissions is next week, and then the real adventure begins: prototyping the peer review process. What works, what doesn’t? What will we get, what will we need?

Recognition: concept implies hierarchy?

This week we visited an organization that was interested in social leadership and our take on what Julian calls the Social Age. It was a great opportunity for us to practice representing Sea Salt, in a Sea Salty way, showing and talking about Social Age ideas and explaining  what we can do with them.

It was also a good opportunity for us to ‘do something’ with what we call the Sea Salt layers. It’s an idea that Julian has about our structure as an organization that we have taken and run with. A one page discussion paper has turned into a small book about what I call in general terms Sea Salt recognition. How do we recognize people who are engaged with us? How do we express the way we work together, with a view to building in ritual?

This week’s prototyping was about the wristbands from the Safari. Or rather what they represent. We thought about this together as a team during our coworking last week. The outcome is an agreed way of thinking about the many people who ‘want in’ so to speak, in one form or another.

As an organization that has tasked itself with representing, being on the edge of, the future of work, we think about culture, structure (or lack thereof) and our values intentionally. These layers are one representation of that. Beginnings of thinking about who is around us, who is ‘us’? They will evolve over time.

One of the questions that came up about this during coworking is, who are we to ‘reward’ engagement, to dole out recognition like pats on the head? Our challenge, in my opinion, is to recognize intentionally. I’m interested in giving people a way of showing the world, saying ‘Look at me, this is what I’m interested in at the moment, what I am engaged with.’ I’m not imagining I am bestowing any kind of honour. My intention is to recognize thoughts, ideas, and work in a similar vein. Perhaps it is ego-centric. Only trying it out will tell me  how people will react though. And putting these ideas up here! Working out loud, inviting feedback  and reactions.

Explorers are people we think of as having been introduced to the ideas around the Social Age and are beginning to ask questions about what this all means to them personally and to their organization. My intention is to gift wristbands during workshops or sessions we are invited to give, a physical representation of a widespread, global community of people.

Seafarers are Explorers or community members who are getting creative and building on     Julian’s ideas around Social Age themes or learning methodology and run with them, building on them, applying them and challenging them or adapting them.

Adventurers are Explorers who are interested in working together, wanting to engage with Sea Salt because they see potential applications of these ideas in a specific context and see an opportunity to build something together.

——– (I don’t have a good name yet, help think of one!)  are individuals who are contracted, who work or have worked with us on projects in specific roles.

Crewmates are people who are working on the day to day operations, highly engaged and committed to Sea Salt as an organization.

The intention is to have a consistent ritual around each of these, letting people know they are seen and appreciated. Is that condescending? Maybe. Experimentation will tell.

Building trust with a virtual team (as a nomad)

I’ve worked remotely now for most of my career, and as a nomad for the past two years. I’m currently working with a UK based start up, 18 months old. Though I’ve been working with this start up for 12 months now, I’ve been part of the ‘core team’ for 6. That’s also when I started my travels to Australia, Indonesia and China.

Before I started traveling, I had been working remotely from one location for five months and on a specific project. My team was completely virtual, in that time we had an in person kickoff meeting once, when the project started.

Now, six months later, staying with a crewmate (that’s what we call each other) in the UK, trust and resilience have been on my mind. In April my presence was requested in the UK. I could understand that. While I was in theory ‘building the business’ in addition to my project work, in reality, I was on the other side of the world trying to have meetings and build client relationships with no experience and no support. Not surprisingly, the business building became less of a priority for me. When asked what kind of support I needed, I wasn’t sure how to respond, this being my first foray into the start-up world. What could I ask for? How could I be sure it would be provided? What is reasonable? I think now that the support I wanted and didn’t know how to ask for, articulate, was what I had in my project work: a cohesive team.

Feedback from crewmates about that time is that I faded in and out of focus. In and out of view. What I had expected was the same kind of structure, same kind of coworking that my project work supplied, so I didn’t have to be constantly in touch and online, so I could have a flexible schedule. From my perspective, I was on the hunt for wifi every day. I was constantly challenged not to work, as everyone around me was on holiday. My most productive times were when I shared living space with other people who were working.

Since I came to the UK, we, as a team, have had a few milestones that seem to have paved the way to a more effective virtual team. This is certainly my own objective since I don’t plan to stop my nomad experiments. It is the way of the future. However, we have to figure out how, as teams and as individuals. There is a learning curve, for everyone, in order to make this work. Part of this is to learn how to communicate, tell stories about our own lived experiences in order to be better teams.