I was having a discussion the other day with my ITA colleague Jay Cross, and the topic wandered over to how to use the social approaches we foster under the umbrella of the Coherent Organization to help organizations become one. And I went feral.
Do we work top down, or bottom up? In the course of the conversation it occurred to me that given the model we propose, that you can’t just have the broader social network create it, and you can’t even really build a community of practice (CoP). The smallest unit is the working group; how could we use that?
The thought that struck me was creating a working group who’s goal was to create a CoP around being a Coherent Organization. That is, they’d have to understand the principles, start defining and discussing it, document the opportunities, and start disseminating the ideas through the organization. Inherently, it has to be viral, and the most effective way to introduce a virus is by inoculation.
The idea then is that the mission of the working group is to develop a community of practice around understanding and implementing developing communities of practice. It’s a bit recursive or self-referential, but it’s the seed that needs to sprout. Seeding it is the action that’s needed to get it going, and then some feeding needs to happen. While it’s possible that a self-supported initiative could survive, having some external support may make sense in making this happen.
Yes, I’m assuming that the end result is desirable and possible. The former is, I think, reasonably well accepted (short form: working effectively is a necessary survival tactic, going forward), even if the path to get there isn’t. I’m suggesting that this is a path to get there. It’s not easy; it takes persistence, support, all those things that make organizational initiatives succeed, with an understanding of the strategies, policies, and cultural adjustments needed. Yet I’ll suggest that it is doable. Now, it’s time to do it!