The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Alan Watts
We are living in a time of massive, rapid, profound change. The music that surrounds us is becoming ever more rich, complex, and dissonant, as climate, ecological, economic, organizational, legislative, technological, and demographic change add their intertwining melodies to the song. We need to be more organizationally agile than ever before to stay in the dance.
Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, YouTube, Ning, LinkedIn, cellphones. Democratic workplaces, open space technology, systemics, conversations that matter, theory-u, world cafe, holacracy, collaborative networked organizations. Climate change, zero waste, peak oil. Green and social entrepreneurship. The collapse of economic orthodoxy, and the rise of gross national happiness, and a caring economy.
The social organization is a nexus where all these themes play together.
We are entering the era of the social organization, because, like a school of fish, or a swarm of bees, a social organization fluidly dances with the ever changing music that engulfs it, rather than trying to control it. For, as shown by the story of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, attempted control over elemental forces is ultimately futile. Change is on the way.
To survive the undertow of the 21st century you need to be a social organization. Are you?
Is being social in your DNA? Or is it an outfit you are trying on for size?
Do you do corporate social responsibility or are you a social enterprise?
Do you use facebook to broadcast your message or are you a member of your tribe?
To be a social organization is a shift in identity, from something that you do, to something that you are. A shift from the I to the we, into thinking like a swarm.
A social organization is characterized by high quality, open, multidirectional information flow. It is about listening more than it is about speaking.
Discover what your customers really need, and adapt to help them solve their problems. You never know where a good idea is going to come from. Leverage the wisdom of your tribe.
It is characterized by collaborative, creative, authentic relationships. It is about caring. Because authentic relationships are built upon care, not upon control.
Things accelerate when they are social. Information doesn’t just want to be free, it wants to breed and mutate. Cross pollination happens, ideas build upon ideas, and innovation is sparked.
It is characterized by sharing and gift giving. By networking weaving, and growing its social and environmental capital.
It is curious, purposeful, intelligent, improvisational, innovative, resourceful, distributed, adaptive and resilient. It recognizes that the more diversely interconnected you are, to people, organizations, and flows of information, both internally, and externally, then the more quickly, effectively, and preemptively you can shift your shape and adapt to change, while effectively meeting your purpose. Awareness, decision making, authority, and leadership are distributed throughout the organization, as in a swarm.
The future is social. We want to be more connected, to be in relationship, and in purposeful community. It is a core human need.
Become a social organization.
(with thanks to many, the social from which this emerges: Doug Englebart, Cluetrain, Jane Lorand, Seth Godin, Don Tapscott, Carmen Mauk, Peter Senge, Mariah Howard, Dave Snowden, Bruce McKenzie, Jean Russell, FireHawk, Venessa Miemis, UsNow, Jennifer Kenny, Joey Shepp, Clay Shirky, Ken Homer, Mark Pesce, Neal Gorenflo, Kevin Doyle Jones, Otto Scharmer, International Futures Forum, Jerry Michalski, and many more)