Balancing the crystal ball while herding cats

Some of the cliches that make me go jittery include “We are like a start-up”, “We have a vibrant project”, “We have great community traction”. Most of them are supposed to be axiomatic sort of like “the sun rises in the east” – you don’t really have to keep on talking about them – if they are true it shows. This kind of cliches abound in companies and surprisingly enough in communities too. It is surprising because both companies and communities are social systems and the means to have a healthy social system is “herding the cats”. Granted it is a tough job since in as much as you try and herd the cats in one direction the potent forces of individualism tends to break free.

Understanding the social system that makes up a company or a community requires understanding the dynamics of the various forces that make it up. This includes individuals and the overall strategy for growth. Herding of the cats goes side by side with balancing the crystal ball of future visions. The glue for the balance is communication – transparent and clear communication of vision and strategy. In companies as well as communities a stemming off of communication results in assumptions and comprehensions that are more often than not wrong. Lack of communication or silo-fication also results in information not being available to the right folks at the right time. This has the disastrous consequence of not allowing innovation to flourish. For this to happen the leader would be required to delegate appropriately with accountability built in ie delegate with batteries included. Innovation does not always follow the direction of immediate go-to-market strategy. In fact it is best that innovation does not immediately relate to marketing or the bottomline. Getting talented individuals to ideate on pushing the envelope ideas more often than not will result in a project that forms the basis of experimentation.

How does balancing the crystal ball become relevant to communities ? Communities are social systems of dynamic individuals and delegating with batteries included leads to niche projects that can be the flagship projects of the system at a future date. Not many communities get this going effectively – those who do, don’t usually required to use the cliches