Please Take Our Organizational Collaboration Survey!

Blue Oxen Associates is doing a study on the collaborative behaviors of organizations. We’re particularly interested in small organizations (as small as two people), but the survey is open to folks from organizations of all size.    (N5K)

Please take the survey, and please distribute the link to others you think would be interested.    (N5L)

We will publish the results of the survey, which I think will be fascinating.    (N5M)

Blue Oxen Barnstars

I just started a podcast over at the Blue Oxen Associates web site entitled, Blue Oxen Barnstars. The name comes from the Wiki notion of Barnstars, and it’s an opportunity for me to tell the stories of people doing remarkable collaborative work in my community. The first episode is with Jeff Conklin, whom I have mentioned many, many times here. Take a listen!    (N5G)

I had a great time putting the podcast together, and now that I have the basic mechanics of it down, and I plan on doing it often. The tools that are available for this are amazing. I used the Open Source Audacity for the sound editing, and I used Creative Commons music recommended by Paul Youlten.    (N5H)

While you’re over there, I’d encourage you to subscribe to the Blue Oxen blog, as I’m starting to post many of my stories and insights into collaboration over there.    (N5I)

How Project Management Tools Empower Communities

I recently posted an entry at the Blue Oxen Associates blog on Obama, Wikis, and Collective Leadership. The crux of the post was simple: Collective Leadership happens when it’s clear who’s in charge.    (N51)

In other words, powerful communities empower their participants to lead by giving them Permission To Participate. When it’s clear that a community has thought about what needs to be done and that people within the community are doing those things, then people can have confidence in that community’s leadership.    (N52)

Entangled in all of this are notions of trust and transparency. One of the simplest ways to build trust within a group is to have good Personal Information Hygiene and even better Group Information Hygiene. The path to enabling good Group Information Hygiene is transparency.    (N53)

Good Project Management tools encourage good Group Information Hygiene via transparency. As a member of a project team, I can look at all of the group’s tasks, I can see what’s been assigned, and I can know who’s following through. Moreover, others can see the same about me.    (N54)

In a small team with clearly defined roles, project leaders are supposed to be responsible for all of this. But by making these things transparent, project leaders engender greater trust and empower the entire team.    (N55)

In a large community with no imposed authority, this is even more critical, because there isn’t anyone who has been pre-assigned with the responsibility. One of the most powerful ways to be transparent and empowering is by using a Project Management tool to openly list tasks, and by enabling anyone in the community to contribute to or volunteer for tasks.    (N56)

A few years ago, I had a conversation with my friend, Steve Ketchpel, about this phenomenon, and he shared a brilliant insight. He said that most Project Management tools are not useful for empowering grassroot communities, because they assume that people who take responsibility for a task will actually follow-through. What we actually need are tools that encourage people to do their best to follow through on tasks, but that also encourage others to take over those tasks when the original volunteers don’t or can’t follow through. This is simply a reality of life in grassroot communities, and tools need to support this.    (N57)

The Project Management tool that comes closest to supporting this is Chandler. Obviously, I’m biased, but I think that Chandler does a great job of making it easy for anyone to see and take on tasks. Ironically, one of the ways it does this is by not having a task assignment feature. You can sign up for a task by adding your initials to the title or description of a task, and you can just as easily reassign tasks the same way.    (N58)

Blue Oxen Sensemaking Series

I’ve gushed over and over again about how much I love my work, my clients, and my community. I’m very lucky. But I’m also always conscious of Blue Oxen Associates‘ larger mission. Namely, how can we disseminate knowledge about the field more deeply and broadly?    (N4V)

This question is becoming more and more urgent every day. It’s critical that we understand how we can collaborate more effectively, but that often requires us to quickly gain expertise in a variety of complex topics. And of course, the more critical it is, the less time we usually have to spare.    (N4W)

I wanted to design an offering that provided high-quality learning on important topics related to collaboration in an engaging, collaborative manner.    (N4X)

With this in mind, I’m thrilled to announce the Sensemaking Series, an online coaching series. The format is simple: A topic, small groups (no more than five participants), and an expert in the field coaching the group. This format is not only a high-quality experience for participants, it’s a wonderful opportunity to engage first-hand with some of the brilliant people in my community.    (N4Y)

Our first series is on Internet Identity, coached by my friend and colleague, Gabe Wachob. He’ll be offering two four-week sessions in March, one on Tuesdays and another on Thursdays.    (N4Z)

Working with Gabe will be a great way to gain a deep understanding of the Internet Identity space very quickly. Please register and spread the word to folks you know who may be interested. Use the discount code, “eekim”, to register, and you’ll get $50 off.    (N50)

Smart or Creative?

When I was a kid, I’d ask my Mom whether it was better to have broad or deep knowledge. Her response: “It’s better to have broad, deep knowledge.”    (N4M)

My friend, Lisa Chu, asked me a similar question recently: Would you rather be called smarter or more creative?    (N4N)

I thought it was a great question, so I did a straw poll on Twitter and Facebook. The results? Overwhelmingly “creative.” In fact, only one person responded, “smarter.” A few folks avoided the question and chose both.    (N4O)

Choice responses:    (N4P)

  • Cindy Alvarez responded: “Creative, definitely. Smart w/o creative implies you function brilliantly – but only if all conditions optimal. Which they never are.”    (N4Q)
  • Leah Detlefson: “I would rather be (and be known as) creative. Smart to me implies quick and clever, but creative implies seeing a wider range of possibilities and solutions.”    (N4R)
  • Jason Lau: “IMO, no such thing as a creative dumb guy. So creative.”    (N4S)

My response? My first instinct would be to avoid the question and answer, “Both.” But if I absolutely had to choose, I would say “creative.”    (N4T)

What’s your response? And are you surprised by these results?    (N4U)