Have you ever run into the right person at just the right time? Have you meet a person who has the knowledge to help you solve a problem, or who provides the right information to help you with an issue you are trying to tackle. You may have not been looking for the person, but you just stumbled upon them. That is serendipity.
Attracting What We Were Not Looking For
Serendipity- The simple definition of serendipity is finding what we didn’t know what we were looking for. It is unexpected encounters with people and they knowledge they posses.
But what if, instead of accidentally stumbling into a serendipitous encounter, you could attract or draw these people to you--a form of purposeful serendipity? We would be able to attract whom we need to learn from—and attraction is a powerful force.
I have advocated that technology and other key drivers have created an environment in which individual Learning Communities can be networked with, not only other Learning Communities, but also useful individuals such as specialists, researchers, academics, consultants, etc., physically and virtually. I call this model the Networked Learning Collaborative.
Authors John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison explain why attraction, or purposefully shaping serendipitous encounters is so important in their book The Power of Pull. The reason that the NLC is so powerful is because it seeks to attract the people with the knowledge we need to meet our knowledge or learning needs at that moment.
A NLC attracts those people who know what we need, who have wrestled with our current issues, and who have the tacit knowledge we need to meet the challenges we are currently facing and wrestling with.
The Networked Learning Collaborative attracts the people who posses the tacit knowledge we need.
Attraction- “…techniques focused for drawing people or resources to us that we were not even aware existed but that prove to be relevant and valuable.”
The Super Node
Each member of a NLC becomes a super node. Each person is the portal to the network. The person is an autonomous communication and collaboration node. Each member can potentially leverage not only their network, but also the network of others who are in their network. This principle is known as Metcalfe’s Law. The number of potential connections between nodes grows more quickly than the number of nodes. The total value of the network where each node can reach every other node in the network grows with the square of the number of nodes. In other words, when NLC members connect their networks, it creates more value than the sum of networks independently.
Our networks can help us attract serendipity.
“We need serendipitous encounters with people because of the importance of the ideas these people carry with them and the connections they have. People carry tacit knowledge. You can’t learn brain surgery just from a text…you need to stand next to someone who already knows and learn by doing. Tacit knowledge exists only in people’s heads.”
Serendipitous encounters become a rich flow of tacit knowledge.
“…serendipitous encounters with people prove to be more fruitful that an isolated encounter with new objects or data. We not only have the opportunity to access the tacit knowledge other people have gained from their experiences—and to share our own—but can begin to create relationships that may themselves spawn new tacit knowledge as we begin to collaborate on areas of shared interest.”
Think about how many times you have attended a staff development or training session and left thinking, “Okay, but what do I do next.” You need the tacit knowledge of someone who has been there and done that. You need someone to show you how, share his or her experience, and put it in a real life context for you.
Networked Learning Collaboratives help attract people who have knowledge in the challenge, problem, or situation you face. They are fellow travelers down these learning and knowledge avenues. And, as the authors state, fellow travelers amplify us.
“If you are exploring a new territory—an edge—it’s very helpful to learn from the experience of others in similar contexts. Serendipitous encounters thus help amplify our efforts by connecting us with our fellow explorers—exactly the people who can help us in our own explorations.”
One of the benefits of tacit knowledge flows from our fellow travelers is that it cuts down on the time we might waste. We know that every moment is precious. There is not a moment to waste when it comes to meeting the needs of our organizations, churches, and teams. Attracting tacit knowledge through our network creates a high rate of return on our attention.
Return On Attention- ROA
“In a world where attraction and return on attention—defined as the value gained relative to the time and attention invested—are becoming increasingly important, those who master the techniques required to shape serendipity will likely profit far more than those who simply wait for it to surface.”
Shaping serendipity involves the blending of three elements: environments, practices, and preparedness. We will look at those in a coming post.
Ongoing Connections- Building Relationships
“Serendipity becomes much more than a one-time encounter or an end in itself: It becomes the crucial means of access to rich flows of tacit knowledge both now and in the future.”
The other benefit to attracting people through our Networked Learning Collaborative is that we create more than just one time encounters, but mutually reinforcing and benefiting relationships. While you may learn something today, you may have something to teach tomorrow. You create Lateral Wisdom.
For every group, organizational team, department, ministry, and Networked Learning Collaborative in the future, there is or there will be a tipping point in which people stop hoarding information and ideas and begin sharing. When this threshold is reached, the Collaboration Cascade begins.
I choose the term Collaboration Cascade to describe the point at which teams or groups reach a tipping point or threshold when the collaboration of some can cause a cascade of collaboration and cooperation from those who have not been participating or who have been hoarding their information, knowledge, and insight. This is the point of the Collaboration Cascade, a “cascade” of collaboration as more members begin to move from non-participation to participation, from hoarding to sharing, from non-cooperation to cooperation.
The tipping point or threshold at which teams reach the collaboration cascade will be different and unique for each group, governed by the unique group dynamics of that particular team.
The self-interest of the individual competes against the group dynamics that require members to collaborate, cooperate, share, and participate. For many members their collaboration is contingent on the collaboration of others. In other words, some members will in essence say, “You go first.” Their collaboration will require others to first demonstrate their willingness to collaborate. The question is what conditions must exist to create the tipping point or for members to reach their threshold to create a Collaboration Cascade?
Here are some of the responses.
@maverickwoman I was born to share- I don't think about it- its like an internal software driving my behaviour- a natural connector
@JBrandon building off the ideas of others, and not being afraid of people telling me my ideas are too "out of the box."
@nashworld trust and familiarity period. experience & expertise pale in comparison in the PLC model.
@tjacobucci To share ideas, I have to know that they will be of value to others, that it's not the same old thing they've already tried.
How would you answer? What would create a Collaboration Cascade in your team or group.
1. What role does fear play in holding back collaboration, cooperation, sharing and participation?
2. The philosopher Epictetus said, “What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are.” What role is perception playing in preventing a Collaboration Cascade?
3. In what ways might you provide leadership or an example to influence a Collaboration Cascade?
4. What is the underlying principle at work in reaching the tipping point for a Collaboration Cascade?
5. In what ways could you demonstrate the benefit of the Collaboration Cascade? In what ways might you show that you are willing to, “Go first?”
Is your cell phone screen a church plant that fits in your pocket?
Technology and church services have a history of moving from one screen to the next.
The First Screen was the movie screen. People gathered in the public space of the movie theater to see the world presented to them through the lens of the movie camera. History and entertainment were all brought to the big screen. People, together in public, were able to laugh, cry, cringe, cheer, and share emotions together.
Just as moviegoers watch together, so too, do those who attend a church service. Both require the people come to a location. Both function off a set schedule. A both limit their offerings. Choice, time, and location are all limitations of the First Screen and the church service.
The Second Screen was the television screen. People were connected to the outside world through a menu of television programs. People could learn about the world around them and talk about what they were watching. Television was able to reach more people. Those people required a greater variety of programming. But, instead of sharing the screen with the public, the Second Screen was shared in privacy of the home alone or with family and friends. Strangers were not part of the Second Screen experience like it was in the First Screen experience.
Watching church services on television required a person to be in front of their television in a fixed location at a certain time. While television increased the choice and variety of its offerings compared to the movie screen, the content was still decided upon by others. Experts controlled the programming of which churches or pastors you were able to watch in your home.
The Third Screen was the computer screen. The computer screen changed the way we work and play. The Internet allowed people from all over the world to pursue their particular interests and to form virtual communities on-line.
The Third Screen allowed people access to more information than they could have imagined. It opened up access to new types of media and allowed people to participate in creating, capturing, sharing, and comment on all types of media. But, though they belonged to “communities” they were still virtual communities. The Third Screen experience was happening in virtual space, not touch space.
This is church online. Most people settle down in front of their desktops or laptops and watch the service as it is streamed to them from points across the globe.
Choice has never been greater and the ability to participate in the creation, consumption, commenting on, or collection of media is available to many.
The Third Screen seemed to be the penultimate in screen evolution. However, the Third Screen Participants of online churches are still limited to access to the Internet access, either hard-wired or wireless. The Third Screen is limited to virtual community—no true person-to-person interaction. Virtual space will never match touch space in the most powerful aspect of human interaction.
The Fourth Screen is the screen you take with you. The Fourth Screen allows the user to leave the private and take the virtual community out into our actual community. The Fourth Screen allows the users to take advantage of the ability to create, share, collect, and connect, with their virtual and real community simultaneously.
Users can be in public, but still be at church. They can exist in both virtual space and touch space. They can introduce their virtual community to their touch space community. And it can happen anywhere, at anytime. Choice, unbound by time and geography, accomplished with portable technology.
As video becomes a more pervasive and accepted part of our lives and the technology of video instant messaging and live streaming video continues to grow more powerful and more portable. The ability to connect via portable technology allows church services to take place anywhere that is meaningful and convenient for churchgoers.
A church service can be literally carried out of our private spaces and into our public spaces. Virtual spaces carried out into actual spaces—carried in our pockets.
It’s like a church plant in your pocket.
I have advocated that technology and other key drivers have created an environment in which individual teams can be networked with, not only other teams, but useful individuals such as specialists, consultants, experts, researchers, etc. I call this model the Networked Collaborative.
The essence of the Networked Collaborative is that the “who” of potential members and collaborators is increased exponentially because of individual members networking through collaborative technology platforms, the “what.” People working together, collaborating, sharing, creating, problem solving, etc., while sharing physical space, virtual space, or both simultaneously.
The Networked Collaborative makes use of what network researchers call a “small world network.” Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius, explains that small world networks consist of,“…many densely connected small groups with less strong connections.”
Brian Uzzi of Northwestern University and Jarrett Spiro of Stanford University studied the 20the century Broadway musical industry, an industry in which many teams of people created projects, and then moved on to new projects, but maintained varying levels of interconnectedness. The Broadway musical industry was a network. From their research the derive a single number, which they called “Q.” Q is a measure of how densely interconnected the entire community is.
As Keith Sawyer points out, “When Q is low, there aren’t many links among teams, and those links aren’t very strong. When Q is high, the teams are connected by more and more people who know people on the other teams. If Q is very high, then teams are connected by many members and everyone has worked with everyone else multiple times.”
The Networked Collaborative attempts to harness they power of Q by creating connections with many more people than the team members sitting at the table. As these connections increase and are frequently re-visited, the level of Q increases.
Connections are the key. More connections increase the surface area of a typical team and exposes them to many more people who can contribute in meaningful ways to the work of the team.
“Connections expose a team to new sources of creative material. But if the network is totally connected, there is less diversity of ideas and the web risks falling into a rut of conventional styles. Recall the research showing that brainstorming groups often fall into groupthink and become less innovative than solitary workers. The most creative web is the one in which good connections exist among the teams, but the teams still enjoy independence and autonomy.”
The Networked Collaborative leverages the INDIVIDUAL networks of each member. No two networks look the same; therefore the Networked Collaborative is leveraging multiple unique networks. This uniqueness helps to offset the problem of groupthink.
Want to raise the IQ of your church teams collaboration, then create your own Networked Collaborative and harness the power of Q.
More Q equals more IQ.
In a previous post “The Ambidextrous Learning Community” I shared it is the ability to embrace a duality in their thinking that builds an Ambidextrous Learning Community. To hold two opposing ideas in their minds and reach a creative solution creates an ambidextrous learners, making them more flexible, innovative, and effective. It is ability and, more importantly, it is an attitude.
As a team they are constantly learning so they can better respond to the needs of their of their church or organization. Seeking out learning opportunities to increase the group’s knowledge and cognitive diversity is something all Ambidextrous Learning Community members are constantly aware of.
The Ambidextrous Learning Community seeks within themselves for the knowledge, ideas, and information they need to respond to church or organizational needs.
But the Ambidextrous Professional Learning Community also knows that the answers they need lie outside of the team as well.
The Ambidextrous Professional Networked Learning Community believes that the answers to questions, necessary information, important strategies and methods, or key knowledge may lie outside of the team members sitting at the table.
The team understands that boundaries of department, role, ministry, job function, church, denomination, etc. that have previously isolated people should not be allowed to prevent the necessary knowledge reaching members.
Team members, therefore understand, that anyone anywhere can be a valuable and or necessary resource to them.
Technology allows teams to connect to islands of expertise located in any geographic location. Technology allows teams to archive their learning and share with others. The sum result is that technology allows the Ambidextrous Networked Learning Community to “Know What Others Know” (K.W.O.K.). Knowing what others know and sharing what you have learned is what I refer to as Lateral Wisdom. Technology makes it easy for people, churches, and organizations to be good stewards of available wisdom—to know what others know.
Microsoft research sociologist Marc A. Smith put it this way. “Whenever a communication medium lowers the cost of solving collective action dilemmas, it becomes possible for more people to pool resources. And ‘more people pooling resources in new ways’ is the history of civilization in seven words.”
This model allows teams to solve problems, increase innovation, share strategies, etc., with people who are physically present “at the table” and with people who are virtually present from anywhere on the globe. The Ambidextrous Learning Community leverages not only their knowledge, but also the knowledge of others from anywhere else-virtually.
The Ambidextrous Professional Learning Community knows they have the knowledge and information they need to be effective, but they also know that the answers they need lie outside of the team as well and expands the boundaries of the team to include useful outsiders in person or virtually.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald was describing the integrated approach of concurrent focus that created what I call Ambidextrous Learning Communities.
Ambidextrous Learning Communities have an “integrated” or "ambidextrous" approach to their focus and their function.
The Integrated Approach has a concurrent focus, both internal and external. They focus on developing strong norms, processes for communicating, problem solving, building consensus, etc. This is important, but Ambidextrous Learning Communities must recognize that equally important, is a clear understanding of how their work fits into the needs of those in the organization outside of the team.
They clearly understand that their work must fit within the greater goals of the organization. They are externally focused and internally focused. They do not wait to create and establish internal norms or practices for every aspect of their work, but rather, get on with the work meeting the needs organization and the team together, while simultaneously developing internal processes. They also keep an eye out for trends in culture, technology, new research, new strategies, and learning needs developing outside of the group.
The internal focus develops key group processes, norms, goals, time-lines, etc. The internal focus is what great Ambidextrous Learning Communities do to build solid teams. But this is not enough. The must also have the concurrent external focus. They need to understand the expectations of those served by the organization and constantly update their knowledge about available talent, skills, and abilities in their circle or network of useful outsiders. Further they must be aware of the external situation in which they function. The external focus has at its heart the principles of The Expectations, Network, and Situation. (T.E.N.S.)
Being able to have the concurrent focus of the internal and external approach is to be ambidextrous.
Ambidextrous Learning Communities must have a strong unwavering and unyielding commitment to use best practices, research backed methods, and proven strategies. Ambidextrous Learning Communities must practice “kaizen”, the continual improvement in their work.
A strong Ambidextrous Learning Community is always seeking to gain a greater depth of understanding of their work and those they serve. They must continually learn and unlearn practices. Their internal focus is to find those critical aspects of their work and apply the best-known methods without exception to meet the needs of those they serve.
The other concurrent focus of the Ambidextrous Learning Community function is to continually innovate. If “kaizen” is getting better at what you do, the term “tenakaizen” is to make something completely different—to innovate.
The Ambidextrous Learning Community should be continuously learning to do new things in new ways. The only way to even greater results is to find new innovative ideas and do things in ways that have never been done before.
The Oppossable Mind
The integrated, or Ambidextrous Learning Community demonstrates the ability to have what Roger Martin, dean of Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, call “an opposable mind.”
The “opposable mind” allows a member of a Ambidextrous Learning Community to have the, "…predisposition and capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads. And then, without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they’re able to produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea.”
In other words...to be ambidextrous.
No Leaders Left Behind
If the Church is to reach the world, we are going to need thousands of new churches. In the United States alone, reports suggest that we will need 2500-3000 new churches a year to keep up with population growth.
This creates a resulting need for thousands of new leaders who can lead these churches and the ministries that serve them. But, are we limiting our leadership search to a small leadership pool? With the demand for new leaders so clear, can we afford to leave any leaders behind?
Typically, the approach is to look for seminary graduates and those with high leadership experience and high ministerial training.
What Saddleback Church has realized is that this approach limits the potential pool of leadership talent.
What about all the rest? Could not effective church and ministry leaders be found in these other pools?
We are ignoring sea of potential leaders, who, with the right training, mentoring, and experiences, could be developed into strong ministry leaders.
With such a high need for future leaders, we cannot afford to ignore this vast pool of potential leaders.
With this in mind, Saddleback Church created the Saddleback Church Leadership Academy to reach out to those with a calling, heart, and potential to lead ministries and churches. Their goal is to expand the potential pool of leadership talent by creating unique leadership development paths that equip, encourage, and mentor these future leaders.
Their method is to provide an opportunity for participants to engage and learn in the context of “doing the work”, not more classes. Tacit learning in context.
So many future church and ministry leaders have a mistaken perception that they are not qualified for ministry and do not pursue their calling. But this is a mistaken perception and one that is limiting the potential pool of future leaders to those who attended certain colleges, received degrees in certain majors, or who have been working in ministry.
By expanding the view of who has the potential to become a church planter or ministry leader, what Saddleback Church has found is that students of all majors and degrees bring unique leadership skills, insight, energy, and knowledge that is invaluable to ministries and churches.
For instance, current Leadership Academy participants have backgrounds or majors in:
It’s not about having a certain degree or even graduating from a certain college. It’s about calling.
Future leaders need a calling to lead a ministry at an existing church, plant a church, or a new campus of an existing church.
If one wants to learn how to lead a church or a ministry, the best way to accomplish that is to be in residency or as an apprentice with current church or ministry leaders. Learning in context and in community with other learners.
Over the course of a year, using a “gradual release” method, “Leadership-Mentor Faculty” walk alongside residents and apprentices; gradually releasing them to greater leadership roles, responsibilities, and opportunities. Embedded in this experience is a weekly gathering where students get "nuts-and-bolts" strategies, methods, and systems instruction.
While not discounting the role of seminary, in fact they encourage it, they don’t see it as a pre-requisite to leadership. The goal is to open the opportunity to become a church or ministry leader to a greater pool of potential leaders to meet the leadership needs for thousands of new churches.
Some recent lifewayresearch.com seems to support the view that experience is viewed as more important than seminary education in hiring decisions of churches.
The Saddleback Church Leadership Academy believes they can harness the gifts, talents, and abilities of these future leaders through a very intentional and practical “hands-on” ministry leader apprenticeship experience.
Their apprenticeship utilizes a “Leading-Learning-Mentoring” paradigm.
The Saddleback Church Leadership Academy seeks to equip, empower, and encourage individuals to pursue their ministry leadership calling.
The Saddleback Church Leadership Academy believes that when people combine their education, experience, and God given potential with the practicum and mentoring that their ACCELERATE Ministry Leadership Apprenticeship or ELEVATE Church Planter/Multi-Site Residency provides, they will be uniquely equipped and empowered to take on leadership roles as church planters, multi-site campus leaders, or ministry leaders.
The Saddleback Church Leadership Academy intends to...Leave No Leaders Behind.