One of the questions I’ve been kicking around for a while is whether it’s possible to generate novel knowledge in online teams where the team members are working asynchronously. You probably know what it’s like to brainstorm ideas successfully in person – one person suggests something, another throws an additional idea into the conversation and these are considered and iterated until a brand new idea arises from the combined ingredients. A perfect alchemy of trust, some constraints on the process, the use of exploratory language, a dose of caffeine, and no doubt other factors can result in co-creation of new knowledge.
But how easy is it to replicate this creative process online?
In talking with Chris Parsons at theCR Connect a few weeks ago, I learned about a model for problem solving called the double diamond. Proposed by the Design Council it explains the four broad steps needed to go from defining a problem to identifying a possible solution.
In one of my early Considering Communityposts I outlined several broad types of community – from communities of interest to communities of circumstance – and I mused on whether the different types might use online tools distinctly.
In reflecting recently on the different communities represented in the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program that I run, I realised that it’s time to dive a little deeper on this topic – considering some of the different configurations of community specifically within science.
In this first post on the topic, I discussed professional societies for scientists and what I call infrastructure or “halo” organisations. In part two I considered research collaborations. In part three I’m going to discuss communities of practice.
Back in November 2015, AAAS announced the new AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program, for which I’m the program director. At that time I answered some great questions from Matt Shipman on the Communication Breakdown blog.
I’ve pulled out some of my key comments about how I became involved with community management and how we’re defining community engagement within science as this has come up in conversation several times recently. For my more recent thinking about types of communities within science, see my ongoing series of posts.
In reading “Reclaiming Conversation” by Sherry Turkle recently, the chapter about work caused me to reflect on our ongoing relationship with email. New apps, such as Slack, are touted as email killers, but why are we so addicted to email in the first place? In this post, I’ll dig into our relationship with email and what we might do to release its grip on us and our interactions at work.
Avoidance tactics – when email removes real connection
It prevents us from getting out of our control zone– We probably all know that feeling of being productive and terribly reluctant to interrupt our rhythmic rally of send an email, read an email, send an email, read an email…Yet while we’re firing words back and forth at speed we may have lost the sense of connection with the recipients, and almost certainly can’t context switch between different threads and recipients with any precision.
It helps us to avoid moments of vulnerability and accountability such as saying sorry – Missed a meeting? Late to deliver a report to a colleague? Send a quick “Sorry” and move on. Email lets us avoid the awkward eye contact. We get out of seeing the effects of our actions in the flesh. And so we also miss out on taking the sometimes messy, emotionally difficult steps to rectify our mistakes and rebuild relationships.
Community manager musings is a series of occasional posts looking at the roles and skills of community managers – usually within science.
This week I attended the Community Roundtable’s annual event, TheCR Connect. On Monday afternoon there was a great panel discussion about community management careers featuring Kristen Laaspere of Akamai, JJ Lovett of CA Technologies and Luke Sinclair of AMEX. Here are some of the key takeaways. (Any mistakes in transcription/interpretation are mine!)
Giving feedback to a team member can be a challenging experience as it requires us to be able to create a space for reflection and future improvement rather than shutting down discussion or provoking defensiveness.
Next week I’m taking part in a panel discussion about the role of trust in communities at the Community Roundtable’s annual CRConnect event. Ahead of that I wanted to share a few reflections about trust.
Trust and vulnerability come hand in hand
Trust is ultimately about a willingness to make our vulnerability visible to another – and to believe that they won’t take that show of vulnerability and abuse it to hurt us. Vulnerability can take many forms from revealing a secret fear to a friend, to sharing key insights with a collaborator or admitting to a supervisor that we need more support.
The moment at which we take the plunge and share our vulnerability is always transitional – the next steps for the relationship hang in the balance until we receive a response from the person we’re sharing with. If our revelation is met with reassurance, care, and appropriate respect then we’re likely to share again and the relationship will continue to develop. Break the boundaries of the tentative formation of a safe space and the relationship may be damaged temporarily or permanently, depending on the scale of the breach.