In the next couple of weeks, I have organized some discussions with colleagues about The Power of Pull (by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison), so I’ve been thinking about the book and its implications for our work in promoting learning in organizations as well as its implications for my own development.
Because of the “pull” I have with some of the blogs and journals I read regularly, some of the ideas Hagel, Brown, and Davison discuss are not exactly new to me. What strikes me as the one big idea to ponder and act on for my own work is the notion that the power of pull is NOT generated solely using electronic means; the power of pull is in the ability to draw one-on-one interactions with people who share your passions.
I’m a relatively introverted person, so I love to “lurk” online. I listen in on various conversations and read and reflect on articles and posts that speak to the things that interest me. I often feel quite “in the know” with regard to what is on the horizon and I am able to use that information to form opinions and share implications with people who I work with on a day-to-day basis (work colleagues or students). I know this active monitoring of the industry makes me more effective as a manager and a professor. But that is only part of the equation (and not even half!).
Here’s a key point about developing relationships from The Power of Pull:
“As we begin to engage with this level of pull, we’ll foster encounters with people who can be helpful in expanding our horizons and creating the new knowledge that enables us to achieve new levels of performance. Yet brief encounters are typically of little value. You have to do more than have a brief conversation or e-mail exchange. You have to invest time and effort and build trust-based relationships if you are to access the knowledge that is most valuable. Building these relationships requires reciprocity: We must be willing to give if we are to receive.”
The authors share a lot of advice around “shaping serendipity” – putting ourselves in a position to collaborate with others who share our passions so that together we expand our understanding of key ideas and amplify our ability to apply those ideas to real problems.
I remember the powerful conversations I have had with people at conferences and over lunches, and I know how critical it is to cultivate real relationships. I have felt rewarded by the ways I have been able to help other people shape their thinking, and also unbelievably energized by the way they are able to enrich mine.
So the key action item I am taking away from The Power of Pull is a recommitment to developing more engaged relationships. It can be too easy to stay inside my own head. But it’s clear that one-on-one discussions clarify my thinking, challenge my assumptions, and often shift my ideas in different, more useful directions.
Hagel, Brown, and Davison offer application questions throughout The Power of Pull, and here are some of the questions I’ll be pondering (and acting on!) over the next few weeks:
> Who are the smartest, most accomplished people who share my passions or interests? How can I get these people in my network?
> How can I get to know these people more personally, and share with them my own ideas so that we can mutually support each other in advancing practice?
> What are the conferences, meetings, and other venues that attract people who share my passions and interests? How can I ensure that I engage in these gatherings as an opportunity to form and develop relationships with others with whom I can collaborate to raise our capabilities?
Frankly, this approach is a bit out of my comfort zone, but The Power of Pull makes a strong case for the power of people. I’m one of those folks lucky enough to be able to say that my passion is my profession, but I can only excel if I can link up with others to learn, collaborate, and move the whole profession forward.
If you’re passionate about the same things I am, let’s arrange to talk! (I added a “contact me” box on the left – hopefully, it works!)