Tag Archives: network

The one where what goes around

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Life can be turbulent at the best of times and given the madness that is unfolding daily on the global stage it hasn’t been this turbulent for some time. At times it all appears unreal, like something that would happen in a Roland Emmerich movie and any moment Dennis Quaid, Will Smith or Bill Pullman are going to get it in gear and sort the world out….

Whatever is happening on a macro level the impacts are certainly being felt by individuals and not just those who have already had to deal with lose of employment, houses, goods and chattel but even by those who are still fortunate to be in employment and at least are making the payments.

On a person level I had a period of unemployment roughly 10 years ago (I was surfing a job board when the first plane went into the Twin Towers) and whilst I didn’t realise it at the time with reflection it was an interesting leveller of the people who were genuinely invested in me and those who enjoyed my company when I had money in my pocket, the ear of my boss and a drink in my hand. It sorted the men from the boys… (And the women from the girls?!! No that doesn’t work but you get the point)

In talking to friends, former colleagues and people I know from the broader network it does appear that I am not alone in having experienced the behaviour changing in those around me. Whether that be those in politically volatile environments or those who’ve gone from being a “big cheese” to a “looking for….” it does appear that people react differently to changing status/fortunes, some choosing to see it as an opportunity to support that friend/colleague and others seeing it (or maybe just not seeing it) as a person no longer worthy of the time.

In thinking this over I can’t quite decide firstly whether I’ve ever been guilty of this and secondly whether this reflects on the values of the individual or just a misperception of the original relationship by both parties. All in all I’m not quite sure and given lots of things going on at the moment I am not giving it much thought but in sharing this would hope that at least one person takes a moment to think about those they used to ‘put the effort in’ for and maybe check in or drop them a mail for no other reason than because you can and you know what they say “what goes around comes around”….

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The one with the unconference part 1

I hate networking…

No, that’s not strictly true. Networking makes me feel uncomfortable and to be honest until recently I never understood why. On every instrument, test or diagnostic I have ever completed I come out as an extravert (and if you’ve met me this is unlikely to surprise you) but it wasn’t until I went on the qualifying course for the MBTI Stage 2 that all became clear. Most of you will be familiar with MBTI Stage 1 – self perception, compare with your reported scores, come up with a 4 letter personality type (mine is ENTP). What Stage 2 does is break each of the preferences down into 5 facets and this is where, for me, it got really interesting, as when it came to extraversion I scored as an extravert except the facet “initiating/receiving” where I scored as an introvert. The mists cleared, the fog lifted and all became clear – I don’t like initiating conversation/interaction with people I don’t know (or as @Thinkingfox has put it “Jonesy, you can close but you can’t open” – the context of the remark I’ll allow you to decide for yourself)

About a year ago I decided, for various reasons, that I needed to get over myself and start networking more proactively and it was through a blog (My hell is other people) and Twitter discussions about music that I started to network with an informal group called ConnectingHR. A year ago they held their first “Unconference” and yesterday was the second. I had watched the first from the Twitter sidelines but yesterday I moxied up, paid my dues and attended.

If you don’t know what an unconference is, Google it. But the fag packet answer is like a conference but with content driven by the attendees, not structured “push” but more owner operated “pull”. So at 9.30am we started and (through some great facilitation from @dougshaw1) we finished with a grid of topics for discussion. I don’t intend to try and summarise any of them here (I will post a follow up which will summarise one of the topics I was part of….but that’s for another time). If you are interested in the content search the #chru hashtag on Twitter and there are several great blogs already out there. If you can’t do that – sign up to Twitter STAT….

I was asked by several people on several different occasions what I thought of it….and my response on every occasion was the same “interesting”. Which can be, and was, taken in different ways. The caveat I added was that I needed time to reflect and digest.

I have reflected and digested and will offer another caveat – what follows is positive if at times constructive BUT completely subjective – this is from MY point of view and isn’t intended as commentary on how it was for others.

An aside before proceeding. Being an extravert is a double edged sword. You are by type more comfortable to take part in a “live fire” environment, to process in the moment, to be able to respond and challenge. The double edged sword is with the energy of all those people and all that discussion how far do you go? I, by nature, cope with feeling uncomfortable by extroverting, I talk, ask questions, discuss etc and have noticed on several occasions recently that it is assumed by others as hogging, grand standing, over two-pennething. In contrast it appears that introverts cope with the same situation by watching, listening and digesting and the response is very different, no one appears to feel threatened by their response and in fact usually are very supportive in making them feel comfortable to contribute. All that by way of saying if at any point I trampled your point, hogged or appeared to grandstand it was largely (with a few exceptions) me coping with my own discomfort…

So, 24 hours later what has “interesting” become?

  • What a fabulous group of people, whose intention is to learn, help, support, contribute, challenge and share
  • As much as at times I adore chaos, the lack of structure in the unconference format was uncomfortable and left me wanting
  • That said I think the unconference format has real legs and have come away excited about how it could be further applied in a corporate environment
  • Visual minutes are awesome (check out creativeconnection.co.uk, Tim and his team do something incredible by turning the dialogue and emerging themes into artwork)
  • Facilitation is good. With the aforementioned struggle between the extraverts and the introverts, having someone to ensure contribution from all and that the conversation doesn’t spiral off into freeform oblivion is good.
  • There are lots of questions and with so many interested parties; the answers can be elusive especially without structure
  • I would have liked a little (not a lot) bit of input, to hear what others are doing, not big scary case studies and by the numbers presentations, but someone saying “we do this and it works/doesn’t work”
  • Live tweeting during an event is great especially if it’s viewable from “the floor” although it did take me a while to get used to people whopping their phones out and tapping away
  • There was a lot of “stuff” out there yesterday and I felt like a missed loads.
  • It is incredible what a group of people with common intent can achieve without permission, accreditation, incentive or financing
  • However much you caveat it, an elephant in the room is still an elephant in the room
  • Unconferencing is tiring but rewarding

If you work with people (and not just those with an HR job title or as I put it yesterday, in the HR cost centre) you should check out connectinghr.org or on Twitter check out the hashtags #chru & #connectinghr, whether you have a similar fear of networking to me or are a seasoned pro, it’s a really good group and will only get better.

I don’t feel this needs wrapping up as the points all stand on their own but there would be too many to thank for yesterday (both organisers and participants) but if one person should be singled out it’s Gareth Jones (@garelaos) (www.garethjones.me) who’s networking activity keeps Starbucks going, has for me been the driving force to me engaging and remaining engaged with ConnectingHR and took the incessant piss taking yesterday with good grace and very few rebuttals!

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The one where the plot thickens…and I ask for help

You may have got from my first post (it was there in the subtext) that I am experiencing a little anxiety about my research project. The project is a 10,000 word dissertation, fully researched and referenced. I do love that in a piece of work that is supposedly mine, that my opinion has no input whatsoever – unless it’s cited I can’t say a word!!

Also, I must say as an aside I would never make an academic. The reasons for this are numerous, but the primary one it seems my surname is far too prosaic – Jones. The bunch I seem to end up reading have weird and wonderful surnames which makes writing any bibliography a chore. If your name is Smith or Davies – please, get into academia, quickly!

The most difficult hurdle so far has been choosing a topic to research for the aforementioned. You have the WHOLE of occupational psychology and with frustrations about how specific an academic research question has to be aside, that is a whole lot of ‘stuff’ to choose from.

So what have I chosen?

Entrepreneurship. Specifically internal entrepreneurs (aka Intrapreneurs or Corporate Entrepreneurs). If you say entrepreneur to most people they think of Branson, The Dragons or god help us all sur’Alan … but my interest is not in these people. I am interested in those who achieve as entrepreneurs but within a corporate setting. They have launched businesses within businesses or they have launched whole new product or service areas. They have structures, processes, constraints, budgets, teams, governance and most critically for my project – bosses!

Which brings me to the source my of current highest anxiety… where the hell do I find people who are achieving as Corporate Entrepreneurs (you may see where this is going) if only there was a way to speak to people who knew people who knew other people – some form of network… If I could tell them what I was looking for and see if they knew anyone who would be prepared to be interviewed…

So (and this is the call to action folks) can I ask (ever so politely) that you have a think about the people you know and if any of them strike you as meeting these criteria – they have achieved as entrepreneurs, in a corporate environment, ideally working at Senior Management level PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know… I would only want to interview them and may there even be a beer/glass of wine/mojito (delete as appropriate) for those who help (that’s the incentive bit)

Yours sincerely etc

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