These eight ideas are based on the 18 groups I’ve studied to date and am studying now. They are a summary of what I’ve seen these groups demonstrate so far. In the coming weeks’ blogs I plan to discuss these ideas in detail, using examples from the groups themselves.
My research allows me to see self-organizing work groups existing and moving in their organizations as both individuals and groups. The three things people appear to do as individuals to sustain their self-organizing work groups are to continue to:
- Believe in themselves
- Maintain focus on what matters most to them—both themselves and one category of nearby others. For example, their students, customers, colleagues, teammates, employees, clients, administration, management, friends, family, community members, and so on. Contrary to what I’d been taught about how to form strong teams, in these groups this “who matters most” is often different for group members.
- Believe in the other group members
- Are more open and visible (and can notice this is happening)
- Are more inclusive and adaptive—expanding incrementally to include others (and can notice this is happening)
- Better embrace and appreciate:
- Being learners (and can notice this is happening)
- Their own and others’ differences (and can notice this is happening)
- Their own and others’ limitations (and can notice this is happening)
- Rely on the group’s strengths (and can notice this is happening)
- Make time to notice the benefits of this new way of being (and can notice they have the time to do this)
From these groups, I’ve learned that in the moments that I experience myself as an individual (these days typically when I get tired, scared, or frustrated) I should pay attention to these three things. When my individual courage fails me, I connect with another group member and all three get easier simultaneously.
As a whole, the groups I study do even more to sustain themselves over time. For example, as a group they:
One important caveat! In most of the cultures and organizations I’ve worked in and studied, doing is highly valued, so when I write I tend to phrase these ideas as things people/groups do to sustain self-organizing groups. They are, in fact, things that these groups do and did. But it’s equally important to know that group members (including me) often eventually experience these things as having happened to them—both in the moment and more fully in hindsight—which is why I include the parenthesis language above. That is, this wasn’t just something that I/we did. It was something that happened to us because we were part of a self-organizing group. I talk more about coming to experience some of these things as happening to you—becoming humble and thankful as you realize that this group was something you were lucky to be part of—in other blog entries, particularly those that discuss how these groups end and the experience of letting go of these groups.
If you’re interested in hearing more about these eight ideas, I plan to blog about them in the coming weeks and share more ideas and examples from the groups themselves. If you’re busy, simply imagining what these things might mean for you and your groups and organizations also works.
Great to see this! I’ve been working with a number of large organizations on how they can enable and sustain communities/workgroups. Not so much from self-forming social media based groups, rather from groups geing seeded with intention.
Looking forward to reading more…
Hey Andy, so nice to hear from a long-time friend! The groups I seek out, participate in, and study aren’t necessarily social media based groups. They are 1) created from within and 2) more spontaneous than planned. So far they range from employee groups to teacher groups to writers groups to student groups to cross-organization groups and, most recently, flash mobs. My blog is driven primarily by questions asked by group members themselves and followers of the blog. If you ever have a specific question, please ask. For me, the questions that get asked are more important than the answers. I’d also like to hear more about your work sometime.
Thanks for the thoughtful post. Right up there I’d add:
• Share a sweet spot of mutual benefit or interest
• Design collaboration so there’s an opportunity for each participant to use best talents
• Ensure that every participant has a needed role and there are no extra participants
• Agree on a few rules of engagement
• Keep reminding yourself when conflict arises that a key to your success is your diverse talents and mindsets so others won’t act right – like you – yet will ultimately enable you, collectively to accomplish greater things than you can on your own
• In the hardest parts know that you are building memories that you want to look back on with relish
Kare, we need to connect for a more extended conversation sometime soon. From my perspective, your ideas–especially those last two–indicate that you’ve been part of a mature (self-aware) self-organizing work group (or two or three). 🙂 I’d love to either interview you about your experiences in the past/current group that led you to these ideas or work with you somehow (so we become a group I can study). I’ll contact you soon.