Loyal to the network?

Emer Coleman, late of GDS, has written a particularly insightful post over at Computer Weekly talking about ‘How to lead when change is the new normal‘.

While I disagree with a lot of her ‘web kids‘ premise for the same reasons I dismiss the ‘digital native‘ concept ..

[as someone born some time post 1980 I have no claim to be a ‘web kid’ yet if the definition is that they “don’t “use” the internet; they live on the internet and along it” then doesn’t that sound a lot like me? Also like a great deal of people I know my age or older?]

..I think most of this article is very important. One point particularly resonated with me.

The idea of people defined “by loyalty to the values of their network” rather than any company or organisation they work for is a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. Looking back over the last decade of my life it is clear that this has increasingly defined my outlook. Even my relationship with JISC, the one organisation for which I felt an affinity with on any kind of fundamental level, was based as much on the fact that the values of that organisation and my network were aligned at the time (in fact my network spawned from JISC for the most part though has grown beyond that now and the values of my network no longer sync so neatly with those of NuJisc.)

I have sought out positions where I felt that I could extend the reach of these values my network represent. I preach openness, transparency, agility (not with a big A) and collaboration wherever I wash up in my career – it is not always successful (cough*becta*cough) but those choices are always endorsed by the wider network if not always the organisation at hand so I keep banging the drum.

My current job is quite different than anywhere I have worked before – it is somewhere where ‘loyalty to the organisation’ still dominates. I often joke about people being ‘lifers’ there – average length of service is probably about twice my longest job. It is an entirely different perspective.

I also love the idea of ‘hierarchy of contribution’ rather than traditional hierarchies. One of the terrifying things about the original rules for Barcamps was ‘no spectators, only participants’ – the idea being if you attended you had to be prepared to share. This has come by the wayside a little in recent years but I think it remains true of the wider open/social web – worth is measured by what you contribute. Not by how many followers you have. The people I see as ‘leaders’ in my corner of the web would baulk at that description but they hold that role for me because they lead by example and share that knowledge freely.

Thanks Emer for a though provoking article.