Online collaboration, Introverts and Solitude

I’ve been reading with personal interest, ‘Quiet. The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’.  Based on research and stories, Susan Cain explores the differences between introverts and extroverts and how society misunderstands and undervalues the introvert.

She has found that “introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation”.

In a chapter called ‘When collaboration kills creativity’ she explores the rise of ‘groupthink’ where workplaces are organised in a way that elevates teamwork above all else. This is based on the concept of synergy and an assumption that innovation is fundamentally social.

She cites research and examples that illustrate that face to face brainstorming is less effective than working alone when seeking creativity and ideas. The exception to this however is online brainstorming where the larger the group, the better it performs. She believes that “participating in an online working group is a form of solitude all its own”.

She reports that between a third and a half of the population are introverts and suggests that in our culture, (US based) being quiet and introverted is not the way to be. This is despite the fact that many introverted leaders tend to get better results.

Her calls for action include:

“Stop the madness for constant group work”. Introverts need quiet, privacy, autonomy and freedom to work on their own too.

She urges introverts to look inside their own suitcases (see video clip) and open them up (occasionally) for others to see because the world needs introverts and the things that they carry.

Some thoughts and questions that are being processed in my suitcase:

  • How influenced are we in online communities by those who talk the most? Cain suggests that the best talkers don’t necessarily have the best ideas.
  • How many so called ‘lurkers’ in communities are introverts and are reflecting before contributing or just reflecting?
  • Participation in the online environment offers the opportunity for solitude too, which Cain says is a “crucial ingredient often to creativity”
  • What implications does this work have in relation to performance improvement, leadership, workplace collaboration and learning & development?

The book and video clip (thanks to Donald Clark for his tweet) are definitely worth looking at.

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An Invitation to participate in social media and coaching research

I’m currently completing my dissertation for an MA in performance coaching and mentoring at Staffordshire University

The purpose of my research is to investigate the extent to which social media tools and materials are currently being used to support face to face coaching, within the context of private, public or voluntary organisations.

The research objectives are to:

1. Identify whether social media tools and materials are being used by coaches to support face to face coaching

2. Explore which social media tools and materials are being used by coaches and how they are being used to support face to face coaching

3. Investigate perceived outcomes, benefits and disadvantages of using social media tools and materials to support face to face coaching

4. Investigate the barriers to using social media tools and materials to support face to face coaching

5. Formulate recommendations for ways in which social media tools and materials could be used to support face to face coaching

I would like to invite you to participate in this research by completing a short questionnaire. This should only take between 10-20 minutes to complete. You will not be identifiable in any resulting reports, articles or publications, unless you expressly wish to be

More Information about this research and what’s involved can be viewed here

I hope that the resulting written work (which I will share) will highlight ways in which social media tools are/could be used by internal and external coaches to support face to face coaching in an organisational setting.

In addition I hope that information shared about perceived benefits, barriers and disadvantages will be useful in raising potential issues and informing and enhancing future coaching practice.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me

Thank you

Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2011

A list and commentary here from Gartner on the top ten strategic technologies for 2011.

They include; Cloud computing, mobile applications and media tablets and video.

I found it interesting how they have categorised social communications and collaboration technologies which is also on the list as follows

Social Networking: social profile management such as Facebook, LinkedIn

Social Collaboration: such as wikis, blogs, collaborative office

Social publishing: “technologies that assist communities in pooling individual content into a usable and community accessible content repository” such as YouTube and Flikr

Social Feedback: “gaining feedback and opinion from the community on specific items” such as  Del.icio.us, YouTube and Amazon

I wonder what’s missing?

“Gartner predicts that by 2016, social technologies will be integrated with most business applications. Companies should bring together their social CRM, internal communications and collaboration, and public social site initiatives into a coordinated strategy”

Top 100 Tools for Learning and 25 Tools: A Free Toolset for Learning 2008

A great resource from Jane Hart who is speaking at the Learning and Skills Group Conference on Wednesday
“This resource is intended for those working in education, workplace learning or professional development who want to broaden their horizons in terms of the wide range of technologies and tools available for learning and performance support .”