People Matter

I spent the day processing everything that’s been happening over the past week, work-wise:

  • I spent two days at the Network of Network Funders meeting, thinking with and listening to a group of funders who are trying to apply network-thinking in the nonprofit space
  • I also spent a lot of time on my primary project these days, helping a Fortune 500 company understand how it can improve how it collaborates at a global scale

Here’s the irony:

  • The funders are thinking in terms of networks, but they’re struggling to let go of a more traditional organizational mindset
  • Meanwhile, the CIO of this company (the sponsor of our work) is thinking in terms of his organization, but his mindset and actions are all “post-organizational.” He has a very network-oriented approach in how he’s leading his organization, but he’s not mired in the language and complexity of networks

I’m working with Kristin Cobble on this project, and she had a similar take on our client, but entirely different language. She described him as “an organization learning consultant’s dream client.”

We discussed how we came to a similar conclusion through our different lenses and language. And what we decided was this: Call it whatever you want — organizational learning, networks, whatever. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the same thing: People and practice.

Grady McGonagill and I have an ongoing argument about paradigms. He thinks that the way the world is now — rapid, technology-induced change and an exponential rise in complexity — requires a new paradigm of leadership. It makes sense on the surface, but I disagree. I think the old paradigms of leadership are fine. We just need to be more intentional in practicing them.

This, to me, is the timeless paradigm in which we now — and have always — lived:

  • Trust matters
  • Relationships matter
  • Communication matters
  • Reciprocity matters
  • Space matters
  • Learning matters
  • Practice matters — way, way more than process
  • Feeling alive matters

If we just stripped away our tools and processes and frameworks and crazy language and simply focused on practicing everything on this list, the world would be a much better place.

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