February 21, 2010

Zealot Advice

Posted in Life, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by lindaslongview

I connected more than usual to Seth’s post from yesterday, Moving the line (the power of a zealot).  He taps into the conundrum of the community that I exist within, where there is angry division over standards of behavior.  Seth correctly observes, “It’s not the principle, in fact, it’s just the degree of compromise we’re comfortable with and content to argue over.” He’s absolutely right!

One of the real challenges is that communities have changed over time and do not respond to the same stimulus and admonitions they used to.  We now live in the world of the long tail (many niches), having shifted more and more toward autonomy.  As such, individuals expect more fidelity and tolerance for their personal needs/desires than ever before.  This requires that communities be more articulate and transparent about what they represent.

I addressed the shift from community to autonomy in my post One Book, Two Months, discussing Putnam’s seminal book, Bowling Alone, and noted that our ability to choose our affiliations is very positive and welcome — we are no longer forced/trapped by ‘tradition’ and/or whatever you were raised.  This has meant that community organizations must create compelling reasons for affiliation. And with greater choices, people change affiliations based on whether their needs (autonomy) are being met.

It is no longer sufficient to be an organization that met the needs of past customers to be successful in the future. Every organization must become customer-centric to the currently affiliated (and those they desire to attract). Customer-centric means that when people talk about their experiences they RAVE about how well they were treated, how much they liked the staff and community, and how easy it was to accomplish the ‘why’ of their affiliation.

Organizations must therefore solicit feedback, measure performance, and adapt accordingly (compromise, coexist, and tolerate diversity for mutual benefit). Per Putnam, this must be part of building mechanisms with the tools of our technological age. To survive, organizations need to rise above where they have been, creating accessible guidance and embracing scalable personalization.

Lastly, the shift toward autonomy has intensified long view imperatives for zealots (and the leadership managing the zealots) within diverse communities:

  • Zealots need to understand that they are successful when they “move the goalposts” (and not expect to hold out for their ideal if they are a minority).
  • Zealots must legitimate the needs of the non-zealots enabling a customer-centric environment (tolerate diversity) to create (more and more) reciprocity, trust, and mutual aid (if they desire to participate within a given community).

Without acknowledging and adjusting to the realities of the shift toward autonomy, some communities are likely to sustain more and more disaffiliation leading to extinction.

Is your community harnessing the tools of the technological age to create coexistence, accessible guidance, and scalable personalization?

February 10, 2010

EDGE

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:45 pm by lindaslongview

I learned a new Hebrew phrase this week, “Shev VeAl Taaseh,” which means “Sit and Do Not Act.”   It is a rabbinic (leadership) tactic that is the moral equivalent of “If I cannot have my way, I’m going to take my basketball and go home.”  Although it doesn’t surprise me that such a tactic exists (or has a name), it does surprise me that anyone would consider it an appropriate leadership tactic in a modern community.

Our world is fluid and complex; full of choices, opportunities, and negotiations.  As individuals, we find and align ourselves with communities that meet our needs recognizing that aggregations large enough to share costs of community transactions (services) may not be perfectly aligned with each of our personal worldviews.  We tolerate and accept those differences for mutual benefit.

Thus, in aggegrated diverse communities leaders must be positive, proactive, and effectively connecting to ALL members by:

  • Being sensitive to the needs/desires of every community member,
  • Striving to create tolerance, coexistence, and compromise for mutual benefit, and
  • Seeking novel solutions for challenges not yet resolved.

“Shev VeAl Tasseh,” a primal command and control tactic that might have been useful in ancient society, has been outgrown by modernity and should be relegated to the dustbin of history along with animal sacrifice.  Channeling the proverb:  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, leaders must lead in times of difficulty — it is never acceptable for leaders to opt out.

My long view advice to community leaders is to EDGE:

  • Exert effort on OTHERS first,
  • Determine the needs of each constituency beyond your own (What’s in it for them?),
  • Gracefully concede that others have legitimate needs,
  • Engage, participate, and create innovative solutions to enable diversity,

We are fortunate to live in a society that tolerates a richness of many communities, each with different leaders, norms, and conduct.  Yet in order for any specific community to flourish, leaders must participate inclusively and exercise good judgement lest their community pick up and leave due to no confidence.

Are you EDGE-ing?