Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Leader of the (not too distant) Future

One of the books on my summer reading list was The 2020 Workplace by Jeanne C. Meister & Karie Willyerd.   As many books have done before, it focuses on the changing demographics of the workplace.  What is different this time around is that the focus is not on differences of race or ethnicity,  rather it is on generational differences.  Much of the book is based on two global surveys: one conducted with working professionals; the other with employers.  One of key points highlighted in chapter 2 is that the 2020 workplace will host five generations workers at the same time. Millenials (those born between 1977 and 1997) will comprise the bulk of the workforce (47%).  They will be sharing the workplace mainly with Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and members of Generation X (1965-1976), along with a handful of Traditionalists (born prior to 1946) and Generation 2020 (born after 1997).

My daughter is working as an intern at my company this summer.  In two years she will graduate college and join me in the full-time work force.   Two years later my son will graduate and join us as well.  The two of them have very different thoughts and expectations about work and learning than I do.  As I watch how they interact with their friends, I try to imagine what it will be like when their generation becomes the dominant presence in work place.  The implications for how we will need to prepare for generational differences in approaches to learning, communication, and working together in general are profound.  This got me thinking, "how managing is going to need to change?"

In chapter 7 of the book, titled Accelerated Leadership, Meister & Willyerd provide some answers. They present an integrated model of leadership and management that describes the kind of leader that will be needed and some of the behaviors that will be required in the course of managing.  The five leadership areas they identify are as follows:
  1. Collaborative Mind-set - leaders will need to be comfortable engaging in inclusive decision-making, networked leadership and soliciting feedback.
  2. Developer of People - leaders will need to mentor and coach their teams, provide honest feedback, career guidance and learning opportunities.
  3. Digitally Confident - leaders will need to be able to use technology to connect to employees - and customers.
  4. Global Citizen - leaders will need to have a diverse mind-set, be able to work well cross-culturally, and exhibit social responsibility.
  5. Anticipates and Builds for the Future - leaders will need to champion innovation and build accountability across levels to bring about the desired future state.
With many Boomers exiting the work force over the next decade, and the relatively small number of Generation Xers that there are in the first place, many of the 2020 leadership positions will need to be filled by Millenials.  So not only will we have to figure out how to lead this generation, but we will have to figure out how to be led by them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Social Media Tools within Social Media Tools

I recently came across a Twitter post from @simbeckhampson which brought me to this Youtube video.  It is a video of Paul Simbeck-Hampson in Bavaria demonstrating Amplify which is an autopost tool that automatically posts something you've written in one social media to another, or several others.   For example, you can post something on Amplify and have it simultaneously (well nearly) posted to Facebook, Twitter and other networks.

But the really cool thing about this demo is how many social media tools are being used here at once.  Paul is demonstrating the power of Amplify connectivity in Second Life by showing how a post made there can get across to multiple networks with one hit.  He shows us his Twitter feed and Facebook feed and a few others along the way.  He then posts the whole thing on Youtube, and now you are reading about it in a blog. Pretty cool stuff!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Good Read: Here Comes Everybody

This summer I'm taking a class on Web 2.0-based Learning and Performance at Florida State University.  As part of the course requirements, I'm currently reading the book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, by Clay Shirky. So far it is a great read.  I wish I had it on my radar screen sooner. The first few chapters are interesting. Shirky uses sociological and economic points-of-view along with common sense examples to explain the growth of online communities.  I'm not even half way through the book yet, but what I've read so far has really brought into perspective how large an impact Web 2.0 tools have had, and will continue to have on how we organize and interact with each other in online communities.  A few key points, I've found interesting so far:

  • Levels of involvement in the Web 2.0 world can be viewed as rungs on a ladder.  The first rung is sharing, the second is cooperation, and the third is collective action.   Collective action empowers communities to bring about change.
  • Groups grow in levels of complexity faster than they grow in size.  The more people there are in a group, the more relationships there are among those people.
  • The growth of personal publishing and communities in the Web 2.0 world can be largely attributed to the drastic collapse of costs that have previously made it impractical.  Think about the effort it would take to organize photo sharing around a specific event.  Now people take their pictures and post them and by using common tags they can all be brought together.
  • Social media used in the workplace fosters a knowledge sharing that is neither directed by management nor driven by profit motives. Instead it is driven by personal interest, which may sometimes benefit a company economically. 
  • Personal communication and formal publishing are blurred in the Web 2.0 world.  I'm a huge hockey fan, I get a lot of my news from following hockey writers on their blogs and on twitter along with reading their articles published through formal media outlets.
  • In the past, organizations could only do what was practical. There options were limited to taking institutional action on something or no action.  Social media tools provide a new alternative; action by loosely structured groups.
  • Web 2.0 tools have enabled the mass amateurization of fields such as journalism and photography.  Someone who is in the right place at the right time may be able to capture a great picture or a story to share even though they are not a professional.
  • Sharing proceeds gathering in the Web 2.0 world.  Traditionally it was the other way around. Communities were formed by people gathering together and then sharing information.
Some of these points may seem obvious, but I find a few of them to be quite profound.   They are helping me reframe my thinking around how I might foster online communities and informal learning opportunities in my work.  Although I haven't finished the book yet, I was too excited not to share some of what I read so far.