Friday, June 01, 2007

mesh wrap up

the mesh conference wrapped up last night and, while I was a little disappointed with the depth of some of the sessions, there were some surprises.

I enjoyed the workshop with Mark Dowds, "Build a Team, Build a Culture." It wasn't exactly stuff I didn't know, but it was stuff that I needed to be reminded of in a different context. It was about the attitudes that change a team (and their performance) and it was common sense, but much needed to remind me of a couple of pitfalls, such as the Pygmalion effect in which people perform better simply because they are expected to do so.

This was a notion that I would do well to remember in both my professional and personal life. I have to be careful about my expectations because my perception will become reality - what I'm looking for is what I'm going to find (observer participancy - I am a participant and have an effect on what I observe).

Basically, when you're more positive, you'll find things more positive in the world including the people you interact with.

Even the question, "what happens when you're dealing with someone who just isn't interested in performing?" was met with an answer that turned it back onto the questioner: what benefit does that person get by acting that way? What are they trying to achieve? What is their positive motivator? A good leader will ask that question and wonder what more they can do as a leader to bring out the best in that person. A leader who promotes sub-performance is the leader who asks, "why doesn't he want to perform?"

The other session that actually made me think the most was another workshop about community building. Again, it didn't really tell me anything I didn't know, but made me think about my goals a little more as well as what I really like about the online communities that I'm involved with.

I discovered that, even as a WebGoddess, I don't actually USE most online communities. I used to love Flickr, but then got mad when I reached my limit of photo storage. I still use it from time to time because it can make blogging a photo a little easier. So I use it as a TOOL - a useful tool that makes my life easier. It's the same with and LinkedIn, Yahoo 360 and even Google's My Maps and of course my latest favourite, Facebook.

They help me access my bookmarks anywhere, no matter what computer I'm at. And my contacts, pictures, maps, event calendar, blog and email... all that stuff.

But I don't just GO to these places without using them for something. Something useful.

My own blog is a collection of people who are interested in me (for whatever reason). I'm offering info that they can't usually get anywhere else. Personal exciting information about what I do every day and the thoughts I have (so exciting, I can't believe you don't pee your pants every day you read this). So it's sorta useful. Demented and sad, but useful (ha - I wonder if anyone caught the Breakfast Club reference).

Back on track, yes I knew that the community couldn't just be a "build it and they will come" initiative -- in fact, as Kate said, maybe you don't need to build it (the platform, that is), maybe you can take advantage of one that already exists and just add your own group space in there. But now I'm really thinking about what we could do that our community would really find USEFUL. We can think that we should do something (ie: build a community for people to come to because that's what we're all about: innovation collaboration) but if those people working away in their labs don't want/care to collaborate or the "community" doesn't actually do anything that makes their lives easier? Well, they're just going to do nothing -- and that's not very community oriented, is it?

So I was inspired to talk to people more. Random people. People who don't volunteer to talk about it (because those tend to be the joiners and I don't WANT a biased sample); people I meet at tenant pub nights who are keeping to their usual group of coworkers.

I did that last night. I got some interesting ideas. None of them were really web-related. But they are still things I can do to move along my idea of building this community. Small steps. Patience and small steps and positive thinking.

It all comes together.

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