Intra Organisational Collaboration: Trust and Failure


I’m kicking off a leadership programme next week founded upon principles of social co-creation and sense making: the heart of the work is to build a coherent intra-organisational community and gently guide that group through three different parts of a landscape. Between each of three key topic areas they will work to create the knowledge and meaning from what they see and say.

Delegates will be drawn from around thirty global Organisations, creating complex dynamics of collaboration, where people are separated by tribal as well as structural features. Or to put it another way, we need to find trust amongst strangers and then venture beyond our certainty and comfort.

There are a range of clear paths to failure: if we remain rooted at ‘credentialing’, figuring out power structures and establishing tiers of knowledge, we may be unable to move beyond ‘performance’. If we become fixated on ‘diagnosis’ or finding and ‘answer’, or ‘winning’, then we may narrow down our lens to an established and operational route, or conversely, if we get too excited, we may bat around in a world of unconstrained ideas, before returning to reality at the end of the programme, more excited but little changed.

Of course, these ‘failures’ are just extremes: in reality we need to find our credentials and work out the relative flows of power and consequence. We need to figure out where the tacit and tribal knowledge resides. And we need to get lost in wild ideas as a mechanism to help us fracture our own certainty. There is no point in going on an adventure if you always remain within sight of home.

So: we seek to find the unfamiliar, but to build ‘sense making’ structures to allow us to relate it to the the challenges to which we will return.

I’m running three full prototypes of this work, each of which will test separate aspects of the challenge: specifically the ‘sense making’ approaches, through to the cohort structures and size, and approaches to scale, whilst retaining quality.

I’m excited about this work: the intra organisational dimension may help more easily unlock insight, but the real challenge i think is to ensure that there is a lot of freedom, to explore, but enough light structure to create artefacts: knowledge that can be shared, transferred, and further challenged or iterated by subsequent groups. To make the ‘local and tribal’ a scalable and global currency, to make the social visible in a more formal domain, all of which without killing the curiosity.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.


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