Tag Archives: Organizational change

Discovering the link between your internet connection and your emotional connection

Mead 2

I have a picture framing the famous Margaret Mead quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world . . . Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” hanging in my apartment. This quote serves as a constant reminder of the influence each individual holds in shaping their environments. When we think of how movements have historically evolved over time, the enormous amount of energy dedicated to creating results is all too clear. Martin Luther King, being an obvious (and relevant) example, faced an undertaking that ultimately cost him his life. The process of collaboration and influence in our society can be extremely daunting as one contemplates the countless hierarchies, rules, resource planning, emotional energy and other implications that make action so difficult.  However, the first and foremost problem in inspiring action is finding the support, the first follower, the human support base, to even attempt to do so.

If you watch this video, you will see the transformation that takes place from one individual expressing himself (literally and physically) to recruiting his first follower to establishing a small social movement. What you will notice is that so much of this process is physical. It’s emotional. It spreads because of place and presence and face-to-face interaction. The leader and his followers have created an environment that is contagious, a space that is hard not to engage with.

It is fairly easy to identify the point in this video where this event almost instantly transforms from a couple of dance enthusiasts to a full out dance party (social movement).  Malcom Gladwell calls this the Tipping Point, or the critical turning point, “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point” wherein an idea, behavior, product or message effectively goes viral.  Gladwell even reiterates Mead’s message, “There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.”

So how easy is it to find these exceptional individuals across technology channels? And furthermore . . . how do we begin to trust them without a shared physical space and face-to-face interaction to build off of?

At first, finding and connecting with people  across technology channels doesn’t seem to be so daunting. After all, we all have hundreds of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook connections that we interact with almost daily. In addition, there are online communities of practice for just about every hobby or interest imaginable.  However, what leads to the identification of an “exceptional” leader and the dedicated support or buy in from others – and ultimately real time team collaboration?  John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid comment on the complexity of identity and recognition in social environments. “Learning, in all, involves acquiring identities that reflect both how a learner sees the world and how the world sees the learner.” In other words, you are only a leader if other people decide to recognize you as one.

So how does this process take place?  Where is the emotion? How do individuals establish interpersonal relationships of trust through a computer screen?

My Creating and Sharing Knowledge course this term tasks me with diving deep into a specific element of knowledge management of my choosing to explore and blog about in depth throughout the term (which I will be conducting here over the next couple of weeks).  My curiosity lies in this concept of buy-in, or what triggers individuals to first of all participate in foreign technological communities (Twitter chats, discussion forums, Personal Learning Networks, corporate intranets) and more importantly, what fosters individuals to act on these experiences to develop actual professional and personal relationships? Specifically:

  • What is the tipping point that drives not just participation but also ongoing collaboration?

  • Are there specific technological environments that foster increased engagement  between a small group of individuals who share a passion to take the leap towards real time collaboration in a start-up?

  • What transforms a divided corporate culture into one that reaches out through technology to connect, share best practices and knowledge and invest in fellow employees?

  • How do individuals develop trust over technological platforms?

  • What causes two people to fall in love over an exchange of written messages having never interacted face-to-face?

In effect, what factors lead to the humanization of these technology portals?  More to come!

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And so it begins.

4d360a01ee9a2ca4345aca536c9de658Much has changed since I last put my voice out into the blogosphere three years ago. I have come to terms with the undeniable fact that I don’t think I ever really learned how to drive, despite ten years of practice. I know that Excel will always be my arch nemesis and that yes, sometimes I overlook important details (e.g. rent is due at the beginning of the month NOT the end) simply because I occasionally sincerely believe that I know the answer to everything. The inevitable signs of aging also began to show their cruel dark fangs. My best friend pulled out my first white hairs during a month of immense stress and to add to that, I think I’m growing bunions.

However, over the past couple of years I have made some substantial progress. I finally learned how to take care of MYSELF. I meditate and make my bed (almost) every single day. I KNOW that a morning stop at Starbucks to get a hot earl grey tea with a steam soy topper wholly and truly will make me a better person for the day. If I have to go to Starbucks twice in order to contribute to the world that day, so be it. I no longer leave my keys in the door overnight, and I can finally state with pride that I have only once in the past year left the stove on long after I had finished cooking dinner.

I’m not as naive as I was then, white eyed and fresh faced, straight out of college. I’ve grown into my voice – I no longer only have powerful thoughts but also powerful words – and for better or worse, much of my young timid nature has evolved into what some might call a bit of an attitude. I can only hope that this is the budding phase of some fabulous form of grace and wit to develop in the years to come.

I love that I am a constant work in progress.

That being said, I’m on a very different journey these days. I’m a curious (mid) twenty-something searching for connections. My head is back in the classroom, my feet are firmly planted on my yoga mat and my heart is out floating somewhere in between, trying to make sense of it all.

I’m seeking connections with my self, with what makes me tick, with what motivates me, with what lights that fire in my core. I’m looking for connections with others and what elements manifest bonds between us and to what extent are those bonds created and diminished?

A seeker of the unfamiliar with a constant yearning for growth and change, I’m looking forward to integrating the documented lessons of sociology, positive psychology, organizational change and human capital development with an ahem less academic (though nonetheless revealing and entertaining) series of personal development experiments.

I’ll be learning how to see myself and those around me through a fresh lens, enjoying the ups and downs along the way – all with a developed sense of grace and wit. Of course.

Stay tuned.