My Network Works

You know, I was thinking of Snowden’s notion of different types of systems (shocker, I know). In particular, I was wondering if my network of colleague practitioners was Ordered (either simple or complicated), Chaotic, or Complex. Snowden says we can look at them like this:

Ordered: system constrains agents, reductionism and rules, deterministic observer independence; 

Chaotic: agents unconstrained, and independent from each other; and/or

Complex: System lightly constrains its agents, agents modify the system by their interaction with it and each other. They irreversibly co-evolve.

What came to mind? Right: complex. In my network of colleagues that I draw upon or otherwise rely upon for one form of support or another, there are no real constraints or too many rules, and I, as an observer am clearly not independent from my network. Chaos – well maybe – (lol). But closer to the truth of the matter, we have a few unstated norms, I think, that help keep the network alive and dynamic, co-evolving with other forces and one another.

Sound ethereal? Consider the following unstated principles of how we have light constraints on our network and how we co-evolve with our interactions:

  1. Speak highly of one another and trust the inherent capacity each of us brings. It’s why we are in the same game and in the same room. If I didn’t trust you, you wouldn’t be here so let’s move on with it;
  2. Don’t steal clients – it’s an NLM (Network Limiting Move);
  3. Make the principal agent as successful as he or she can be – they may do the same for you one day;
  4. Do the best you can as if my client was your client – they may well be if the scope changes and I would be happy to refer – I do it regularly;
  5. Work for whatever your colleagues can afford to pay; trust is inherent in the relationship, we all need to run our practices, and no one will be taken advantage of;
  6. Reciprocate if you can – it keeps the faith;
  7. Be honest with your capacity and share credit where it is due. Nothing puts me off more than someone saying, “I built that” or “I did that” when I know damned well it’s not the case. Don’t be greedy with that BS or you’ll be gone – we rarely do anything without the help and support of others; and
  8. Be open-minded to the style and approach of each network agent or principal. Follow their lead and speak truth to power; the diversity makes us stronger.

I have noticed that the 6th principle above is often the one I am most frustrated with. I have hired close to 100 colleagues to pinch hit or contribute in the past 14 years and I am sure that is likely conservative. I can count on one hand the number of times where this has been reciprocated. I take it as a sign of the type of projects I have been involved with that are more systemic in nature and less likely to be content-exclusive. But still, I rely on my network to make me more effective, more robust and more successful. So thanks, folks. I hope I have the opportunity to contribute to your success in the near future in the same way you have contributed to mine.

So that’s about it for now. Colleagues, if you have something to add, please comment.

Why now?

Here we go. Like anyone starting a blog it seems there is some underlying tension (good or bad) or other impetus for wanting to put something out to the world. Mine are several fold:

  1. Personally speaking, for years now, I have been rather shocked at how hard-working consultants, trainers and facilitators tend to be treated by clients and participants alike. Sometimes absolutely fantastic, and other times not so much. Trite statements like “you can always say no” or “set boundaries with your clients” minimize the inherent risk associated with living into your values. If I did that, believe me, I would be out of work more often than not. Many times we need to set higher-order values and, frankly, get over our selves in order to get the job done. Having said this, the merits in setting clear boundaries on major engagements cannot be understated. Many times I have thanked clients and participants alike for the amazing support, professionalism, humanity and openness they bring to our engagements. I’ll share some of those, too.
  2. I’ve got something to say and some may find my insights helpful and, hopefully, amusing at some level. Others will not be interested at all and perhaps offended. That’s OK if people create that feeling for themselves. I read lots, I study, teach, and create my own thoughts. I will share them here.
  3. I want social media proponents to understand that I decide how, when and from where I use and otherwise engage in social media use. Sure it will have consequences if I do X or Y and I am responsible for that. Please do not tell me how I should or should not use my social media connections and that I am missing something if I don’t tweet this or check-in here or there on foursquare, or post to facebook. Frankly, in my professional work it is of very little use and a massive time sucker with little monetization or conversion compared to the other activities I do. So, social media, you are not my priority. You are my whim. I have done my homework and I know how social media is generally used, or not, as the case may be, in my client worlds so I choose how I engage in that. The assertions made by many strategists in the field are, to me, off-putting. If my opinions and experiences about this change, then so will my practices. For now, this is the way that I see it.
  4. Lastly, sometimes I want dialogue from people I don’t know. If that happens to be you, great – I appreciate the time you are spending here. If you find something I write useful, please pass it on to others who might offer an insight as well.

Stay tuned. Why do I have the feeling I am about to get myself into some serious trouble?