I think I hit a nerve! Lots of responses on comments from the blog post last week so I wanted to follow up on them, there is clearly an interesting debate to be had here.
The crux of the debate seems to be around two main questions:
- Is it reasonable or appropriate to expect our leaders to have a minimum level of knowledge with respect to digital in the wider social as well as technical sense?
- If we do have this expectation does this change the type of people who we want to have in leadership positions or does it simply mean that we have to up skill to leaders (and potential leaders) we already have?
Steve Halliday has already answered this in part:
Just like in the analogue world, different people network differently. Just like they have different numeracy or literacy skills and aptitudes, they will have different digicate characteristics. Some, irrespective of age and experience will not be digital naturals. This does not make them bad persons, or even bad leaders. I have seen some wonderful leaders who, with a very small but precisely chosen and honed network of trusted people, deliver some inspirational leadership. And some absolute time wasters who seem to know everything about everyone. So don’t be too harsh on the conservatively digicate. You will find them amongst “old” leaders and amongst youths who are turning away from social media (my kids classes are full of ‘em). The rich tapestry of a good team will require differently literate, numerate and digicate people. Some emotionally intelligent leaders will simply know how to gather the digicate around them – and some will be the digital ambassadors themselves
Digging into the detail of some of the comments there are some other issues being raised:
- The current disconnection between where these skills might sit in an organization (the ones John Popham refers to as being “ sparky, switched-on people”) and the current leadership creates a greater and specific risk of organizational dysfunction around this area. This could mean we risk not only failing to exploit digital but it also causes additional organizational problems
- As Jonathan Flowers points out – as we rush to create digital and networked organisations with the right kind of leadership we need to make sure we are creating a way of measuring the impacts of these changes otherwise we risk missing our target. Steve Halliday also touched on this with his comment about MyersBriggs
- Simon Hughes pointed out the importance of getting people ready and building organizational confidence. This could arguably be added onto the list of leadership skills in the post. Its not specifically digital but digital does accelerate change meaning this is perhaps of greater importance
- Tom Phillips made the point that these are skills that are relevant outside of work as well as within it – and I think started a whole new thread about how we use work to prepare people for their life after full time employment
- Both Simon and Tom made the link back to councilors and I think this is extremely important – we need democratic leadership to have these skills as well
- Clare and Paul both made links to other sectors which I think links directly in the points about collaboration – there is no point in talking about this stuff in isolation if the future is a collaborative one
- Michael Coughlin specifically developed this with respect to the community – we have to make sure that we are meshing our pace of change with that of the community we are serving
- A few people connects to the points about digital civic space – will pick these up in other posts!
- I really recommend giving Phil Jewitt’s blog that was sparked by mine as he touches on the practical approach needed to get people working in these ways
There also were a couple of questions about the term networked power. This is a term used in sociology literature (and other places) and simply refers to power (i.e. directed effort – though this definition is a longer post) being applied via a network rather than via a hierarchy. There are of course lots of forms of power but I am using networked power simply as a contrast to the more familiar hierarchical power. You could perhaps use the term authority in its place as this is really a comment on an individual’s ability to direct their organization. One of the fundamental differences between these two forms of power is that feedback is built into the networked model. Measuring networked power is really a question we want to address in the network of networks project which I will be blogging about when not blogging about this! Lots more on this if people are interested….
so…INTERESTING!…..still lots more to discuss I think….huge thanks to everyone who has contributed!