This is a Hack about creating a collaborative community of trust online to spark innovations in management. We believe that our best ideas are the ones that will not only increase trust in the workplace and trust in the world, but ideas that can also be applied right here and right now in how we work together on the MIX.
Inspired by our experiences and observations within the MIX community, this hack is posted collaboratively by Dan Oestreich and Annie McQuade (who struck up an online conversation a few days ago through this site), and is directly linked to Erika Ilves’ hack, MIX Post M-Prize – Ideas for MIX beta. The similarity in title is intentional. Erika’s hack leads with one example of WHAT we could do. This hack follows and focuses on HOW we could do it – and many other things -- together. Cross-commenting is encouraged.
MIX is a fabulous website. There are so many really great ideas here and so much work and thought has gone into their presentation and into the dialogues that have emerged in comment threads. But reading through some of those threads has left us feeling that debating and defending our ideas as individuals is more the norm than sharing, building on, and supportively exploring them. Too often, the threads suggest a zero-sum, “my idea is better than yours” or “you need my hack to make yours work” tone that gradually introduces defensiveness rather than appreciation, openness and learning.
It’s not that we don’t all need the push of new and different perspectives, and to be frank, some genuine conflict, but how can this be done so that the result is a community of innovators who trust each other and produce implementable ideas that people want to share in and own? If we want to increase trust and reduce fear, we believe we need to walk our talk.
We ourselves question whether aggressive debate and defense alone will result in the best ideas emerging in the end. Will the self-interest of obtaining the advertised prize and competitively pitting ideas against one another actually produce the most radical innovations in trust? And what happens after the contest? Will it create sustainable relationships that build value over time? Will we want to stay here and want to keep learning together? There’s doubt in our minds because defensiveness is already here. And defensiveness may very well limit a willingness to engage, innovate and learn in any person, team, organization or society.
This hack is an open invitation to share your ideas on how to now move beyond our “contest culture” to one of greater mutual support, partnership, joint action and meaningful exploration. This is an invitation to trust. We are not limiting difference or conflict, but we aim to use that tension more productively to move us all toward discovery and management breakthroughs. We are not sure entirely how to do this and we are absolutely sure we cannot do it alone. There is no single idea or single person that is likely to “change the game.” So we instead invite you ALL to share your observations and thoughts. We want to open the door to fresh insight on the whole process of trust and genuine collaboration that might unfold at MIX.
Some ideas that we have been talking about include these:
- Making it easier for people to connect to one another in real time, to actually talk to each other.
- Changing the hack presentation format itself. The current problem/solution format may not best facilitate connection or possible synergy. For example, we would like to submit a joint Hack! Imagine that!
- Building partnerships: asking for and offering to partner with others at MIX, sharing and building on the original ideas that are presented here as individual hacks, and then presented as models for how differing philosophies and approaches can result in learning and innovation.
- Develop some general principles about how we relate to one another. What will be our norms? What would allow you to trust others on this site -- and be trusted in return?
- Use appreciative approaches to encourage and support the human beings who are presenting ideas here. We are all looking to have our ideas valued. Can we find ways to reinforce the strength of ideas rather than only nag at their weaknesses? Frankly, it is our sense that competition begins to turn into synergy at the moment appreciation becomes real. In this regard, the enclosed video (linked here and in the Materials section) of The Compliment Guys offers one, entirely voluntary and light-hearted solution.
These are simply initial ideas to help get us started.
This hack is our first step to reach out to the MIX community to ask for your ideas. We don’t know exactly how this might come together, nor what you believe needs to be done with the ideas that are generated. We are open to your thoughts there, too. That’s why we are genuinely asking for your advice, ideas, questions, comments, and thoughtful support.
We do have some requests. Watch the video: The Compliment Guys. We are not saying that critique is not welcome, but we are saying, and we hope you don’t mind the frank language: Don’t be a buzz kill. Ask yourself, what is good about these ideas? How do these thoughts inspire you? How can I help advance these ideas. And, before you post a critique, and your critiques are surely welcome, ask yourself, am I truly trying to advance the cause of management or am I nagging? Am I interested in helping these people build something, or am I more interested in tearing something down so that it can be replaced by something I’ve created? Is there a way to offer my critique and still build trust? For example, if your first comment was to tell us that collaboration is not the answer because of X,Y, and Z, please spare us. Seriously. If you want to help us overcome the real issues with collaboration -- and there are plenty -- put your shoulder into it, think it though and help us BUILD the real thing.
Second, present something vulnerable here. Show up personally. Take the risk to share your experiences and observations within and outside MIX in an open way. Speak from your heart about your personal vision for what this community could be and how we can get there together. What could MIX mean to you?
Third, in your responses to this hack, please don’t feel you have to have some perfect view, insight, or solution. This is about more than ideas. It's also about relationships and comfort zones. We know people are doing their best here. So relax and just be who you are. We trust that will help also make it safe for others to speak, as well.
Fourth, let’s keep our eye on the real prize: synergy, the creation of something more than the sum of our parts. Not compromise, not some politically correct view of what collaboration is or might be, but empowered synergy by design.
So in a nutshell, take a look at the video and then share with us according to four principles for input to this hack:
- Genuine appreciation and furthering, not critique alone
- Vulnerability – take the risk to trust
- Imperfect, incomplete ideas are okay
- Synergy – help us all design and participate in a true collaboration
Finally, although this hack is posted under Dan’s name due to the limits of the technology, it was created by Dan and Annie as partners. So please, if you use a salutation, address your comments to Annie and Dan or Dan and Annie. Thanks so much!
This site would not exist without the example and support of many people including Gary Hamel, Michele Zanini, Polly LaBarre, and David Sims. Reading through the baseline values and expectations for MIX, it’s clear that the intention behind the work continues to be an incredibly positive and fruitful means to create the future. Let’s realize the full potential of those intentions.
Our greatest thanks are to all of you, the hack, barrier, and story sharers and presenters. We deeply believe that with your help we are all on the way to the very thing we create together.