Social Media Changing Social Norms

Had a fascinating conversation with a small group of people at #PodCampHfx last Sunday about the role of social media in shifting the shape of the world.  I was particularly interested in its influence along the chaordic path – that place between chaos and order we seem to be navigating more and more frequently in the world right now.

The Chaordic Path

The Chaordic Field

I wanted to understand more the influence of social media on the chaordic path and  what the opportunity is to influence it more strategically or with greater intentionality.  I also shared the stepping stones of the Chaordic Path: need, purpose, principles, people, concept, limiting beliefs, structure and processes, and practice.

Social media facilitates networks or webs of people in making interconnected relationships more visible.  Partly because of this it is also driving greater transparency in today’s world.  Buzz spreads rapidly through Facebook or Twitter and it is a lot harder to hide information, indiscretions, faux pas’ or worse.  Even with privacy settings, you cannot control what someone else posts.

There was a time that technology was isolating for people.  It was easier to sit at home emailing people half way around the world than it was to go knock on the door of the next door neighbour.  The rise of social technology though is enabling people to connect and reconnect with each other in ways that also generates in person contact.  Friends in a city will find each other through social technology – on the web and in person.  There are examples of how Twitter friends, who may or may not have actually met each other,  arrive at conferences and then set up the opportunity to meet face-to-face.

What was most interesting in our chat at #podcampHFX was how often the word community popped up.  I have noticed that people are yearning for community and sense of connection and social media seems to have created pathways to community in surprising ways.  And the most intriguing thought: social media is transforming our social norms, changing the parameters of acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour, doing this broadly and maybe more swiftly than any other social norm shift in the history of civilized society.

I’m still reflecting on how social media is shifting the shape of our world and contributing to the regeneration of community.

H1N1 and the Untold Stories

There is a new phenomenon in our world called H1N1.  The news stories are all around the vaccine: availability of the vaccine,  getting vaccinated, vaccination clinics, who has priority in being vaccinated, reactions to the vaccine, H1N1 assessment clinics, how many people have been hospitalized, how many have died, the cost of delivery, the pandemic nature of this flu.

There is an untold and evolving story around H1N1.  It is the story of innovation, breaking down silos, working across departments, flattening of decision making structures, team engagement, people rolling up their sleeves and doing what needs to be done regardless of job description and everyone pulling together to face down the issues created by what is being called a pandemic – at least here in Canada.

Being around a lot of health care folx because of my work and being in frequent conversations about engagement, we began to muse about the level of engagement of health care folx, in particular, in the pandemic planning and the delivery of the vaccine.  We came back to a familiar question: What is it about a crisis that brings out a sense of community, the power and clarity of a common goal, necessary resource allocation and alleviates common arguments, bickering or turf protection around role and resources?

How can we create these conditions in times when there is no crisis is often asked?  We are operating from the premise that it is possible to create the same conditions without a crisis.   During this particular conversation I began to entertain the question, what if it isn’t possible to fully recreate the conditions of crisis?  For instance, the province of Nova Scotia has made available millions of dollars for the roll out of the H1N1 vaccine.  Without the compelling argument of needing to control a pandemic outbreak of illness, as a for instance, what else other than crisis would so easily and readily garner financial and human resources.  One of the reasons there is normally turf protection is because when we don’t have crisis the experience is that we have more limited resources and people have to advocate for their share of budget.

My question changed.  Given that responding to the H1N1 crisis has temporarily transformed the relational field of how people are working together, what would it take to maintain some of the shift that has occurred and embed it in the organizational culture instead of allowing things to drift back – or spring back – to the way things have always been done – which is likely what will happen when the H1N1 pressure is off?  How do we capitalize on the shifted shape of the relational field to allow operation along this chaordic edge or chaordic path all or most of the time?

There is an interesting opportunity here.  As the pressure of crisis eases, will the lessons learned include new new ways of working together and the minimalization of structures and processes to support that?

Work and the Sacred – Distinct and Separate or Whole and Integrated?

The birth of Shape Shift Strategies Inc. has been truly inspired.  In the midst of this transition in my life and work, it became clear to me that I would be letting go of Chrysalis and of Co-Creating Futures and leaving them with my business partner and that this was absolutely the right thing to do.

As I let this go, the name Shape Shift came, unbidden, with ease, on a flight to Colorado on my way to an Art of Hosting training and a vision quest.  Both the company name and the look for the company have been universally well received as I speak them or hand out business cards.  It resonates with people and it reverberates as people carry it away and contemplate it.

Shape Shift has a practical quality – how do we want to intentionally shift the shape of our own world rather than be a passive recipient.  The shape of individuals, teams and organizations literally shifts as people bring intentionality and purpose to everything they do.  Some would argue intentionality and purpose border on the spiritual.

I know Shape Shift also has a spiritual quality.  It has its own essence beyond anything that I personally bring to it.  Every now and then I feel that I glimpse a bit of its possible future and I am surprised by the potentiality that exists.

It also has a spiritual quality because it is born out of my own spiritual journey – a journey that has dominated my life path in the last couple of years.  Some would say I am a Shape Shifter.  Some days I might even say that.

The largest question I have been sitting with the last few months is how to bring my spiritual path and my work path together…. and still have credibility, and still make a livelihood … as if they are two separate and distinct things and that acknowledging the sacred will somehow be an impediment in some of the client work I do.  Then a good friend thoughtfully said to me, “I think you are making a distinction where none exists.”

Hmmmm.  Powerful.  Nice pause.  Deep breath.  You are making a distinction where none exists!

I have brought this thought, this awareness into quite a few conversations over the last two months.  I am beginning to speak these things out loud, publicly.  I am in a community of practice with people who are also exploring this question and beginning to speak it out loud – or just to practice it by showing up in the sacredness of who they are and the magic they bring to people, places and things.

What if the essence of who we are, the work we do in the world and the sacred are not all separate things but that we have been making distinctions where none exist?  Imagine if we intentionally bring a sense of seamlessness and integration around work and the sacred EVERYWHERE, all the time, and people understood it to be normal rather than an edgy conversation!  Imagine the sense of harmony and ease we would bring into all the places we touch.  Every time we do this, we bring a bit more healing to ourselves and others.

What does the world need right now?  Healing.  Where do we start – or where am I starting?  With what I used to think of as an edgy topic in some settings – by intentionally bringing the sacred – and magic – into everything I do and every place I go.  Will you join me?