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The Community Canvas

Posted on by Brandon Klein

We have spent the last 15 years building and participating in communities and found tremendous joy in them. And we have come to realize that while every community is as unique as the humans in it, many of them share a similar, underlying structure.

Based on our own experience and with the generous help of leading community builders, we have identified the first version of this structure and turned it into an openly accessible framework: the Community Canvas.

We hope this will provide a template for people to build more meaningful communities and bring as much joy to your lives as communities have brought to ours!

Real-time data on global collaboration networks can support new research and create further connections

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Do you remember the first group of friends you met at school? Chances are you do – as a species, and even from a very early age, we are drawn to form communities and social groups. Collaboration and communication are two of the key skills we’re learning even before we can walk.

The need to form groups is so ingrained in us that the effects of isolation on the human psyche are stark – studies have shown that we’re dramatically affected by perceived social isolation, and that it “is a risk factor for, and may contribute to, poorer overall cognitive performance, faster cognitive decline” and many other negative traits. In other words, it’s important not to be isolated.

But how does this translate into our working life, and specifically the working life of an academic researcher?

As researchers, we form lasting mentor-apprentice relationships throughout our early career; beginning as the apprentice and moving on to mentoring as we develop our skills and experience. I expect that in addition to being able to name our childhood friends, we can all name our early mentors and our first apprentices. With scientific research also becoming more international and more collaborative, how do our wider collaborations – especially the larger projects that span national and international boundaries – fit into this social picture?

When people work together, they’re literally on the same wavelength, brain waves show

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Thanks to scientists who have ventured outside the laboratory, we have learned that tight-knit groups of females experience synchronized menstrual periods over time, that cohesive groups engaged in decision-making discount dissenting viewpoints in the interests of consensus, and that couples who stay together long enough begin to look alike.

In the wilds of a New York City biology classroom, a new study has captured another group phenomenon known to exist in labs but never before chronicled in humans’ natural habitat: group brain synchrony.

Psychology researchers at New York University equipped each of 12 high school seniors with a portable, low-cost electroencephalogram and gathered the gadgets’ brain-wave readings over a semester’s worth of biology classes (11 sessions lasting 50 minutes each). Writing in the journal Current Biology, the researchers reported that when students were most engaged with each other and in group learning, the readings on their electroencephalograms, or EEGs, tended to show brain-wave patterns that rose and dipped in synchrony.

Methods for Facilitative and Transformational Leaders

Posted on by Brandon Klein

The Technology of Participation is a constellation of life understandings and methods that value inclusive participation and profound respect in a wide variety of settings and applications.

ToP methods emerged from the tradition and practices of personal and group empowerment of the Institute of Cultural Affairs. ToP methods are based on a philosophy of disciplined thinking, continual affirmation, inclusive responsibility, and a vocation of service. ToP practice is embodied through disciplined methods that are applicable to all fields, lifestyles and cultures that value comprehensiveness, consciousness, care, and courage.

ToP methods enable personal and group transformation through facilitation, planning, development, education, consulting, leadership and training. ToP is known world-wide for its life-enhancing impact in thousands of communities and organizations on every continent.

Social networks push runners to run further and faster than their friends

Posted on by Brandon Klein

The study offers some of the first hard evidence that health-related habits can spread — and so perhaps could be deliberately seeded and encouraged — by social influence and peer pressure. Previous research has sought such a contagious effect in factors such as obesity and smoking, but the results have been inconclusive.

The new study is a further example of the power of social data collected and made available routinely on a very large scale. Runners cannot lie about their times and distances as they might be tempted to do in self-reported surveys. (Although the competitive nature of running does drive some to cheat and ride a bike.)

Sillitoe’s lonely narrator liked to claim that running offered freedom. “I’ve got thoughts and secrets and bloody life inside me that he doesn’t know is there, and he’ll never know what’s there.” Perhaps not yet — but science is getting there fast.

Completed is a meritocracy, where the best performers shine.

Posted on by Brandon Klein


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The decisive thing is your network. Work is interaction.

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Networks provide problem-solving capability that results directly from the richness of communication and the amount of connectivity. What happens in interaction between the parts creates a reality that cannot be seen in the parts or even seen in all of the parts.

This is why it does not make sense any more to talk about skill levels and just managers being responsible. Either you are present in a relevant way or not. Neither can responsibility be somewhere else. You can only be present and contribute if you are response able.

Scaling Agile: Fractals of Innovation

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Scaling agile means that we apply its principles to large, even very
large, groups of people. When we do this, we allow those people to be
more connected to their work and its impact, despite being part of a
huge system.
This process is effective because we scale agile by fractals, meaning
we create similarly shaped structures at different levels of scale
throughout the organization. And rather than build bigger teams, we
add more small, cross-functional teams and stitch them together into
a larger whole. This way, the team remains the core unit and owns its
working agreements, information radiators and policies.
As you might expect, it’s not quite enough to simply add teams. Those
teams will need leadership to guide them, a structure to align them,
and information to enable agile’s continuous improvement

43 Company Culture Improvement Ideas (That Actually Work)

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Company culture is shaped through your daily work rituals. Habits that set the social and behavioral norms that go onto hone your company’s unique personality. Improving your company culture requires regular work. Just like exercising and eating well leads to good health, constantly investing in your people has the same effect on your company culture. It takes a little effort to get going, but after a while you won’t notice how natural improving your culture becomes.

Collaborating with WH Smith Self-Adhesive labels 33123516

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Compliments of Fernanda @__deu

When you buy supplies from WH Smith - you expect a certain level of quality.

But, the Self Adhesive labels, specifically the 33123516 ... there is no way to print onto labels. No template.

They are kind enough to print a photocopied version of the dimension, but the photocopy itself has the wrong 'to scale' sizes :(

So Fernanda created a pdf/Illustrator files for anyone to download. Enjoy.

 

The Corporation As You Know It Is Probably Obsolete

Posted on by Brandon Klein

By Umair Haque

There is a groundswell in new kinds of corporate forms that is gaining steam. Consider the rise of "for-benefit" corporations. They’re a new kind of corporate form, built from the ground up to create wealth, instead of being tiresomely legally bound to return maximum profit to shareholders.

Imagine, for a moment, the new organizational possibilities that the novel legal and contractual design of these organizations opens up, where bonuses are tied to marginal wealth attained by people, communities, and society, roles are created to manage benefits (think "chief impact officer"), and transparent accounts demonstrate real, meaningful benefits, not earnings. You’d have an organization geared to do explosively more than just buy and sell crap that’s slightly updated every year or so, on yesterday’s moldy old terms. You’d have instead an organization tuned not just to make stuff, but to have real relationships, to meaningfully enhance lives, to push the boundaries of elevating human potential, to laser-lock on to creating wealth, to do all the above in ways that matter, count, last, endure, inspire, amaze, and delight—and to do all the above habitually, consistently, and repeatedly.

You might begin to nervously ask yourself: 'Is there a bullet out there somewhere with my name on it?'

Now put that new arsenal of enterprise, its disruptive new set of capabilities, its unexplored, undeployed firepower in the hands of someone with the unsatisfied hunger, unyielding determination, and laser-sharp insight of a Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, or Richard Branson, and you might just begin to nervously ask yourself: "is there a bullet out there somewhere with my name on it?" Sure, the fact is that there’s no corporation in the world that works quite like this—yet. But the truth is that when there is, it’s going to put "business" as usual out of business.

Ultracompetition Can Only be Won Through Betterness

In the twentieth century, rivalry was most often about a single kind of counterorganization: competitors. That was yesterday: in the twenty-first century, a new range of insurgent counterorganizations must be contended with, hell-bent on toppling imperious incumbents from their comfy, cushy thrones. They are markets, networks, and communities composed of a huge variety of actors: NGOs, peer and trade groups, customer and supplier communities, activist investors, and labor organizations, to name just a few.

Hypercompetition is an increase of like-for-like competitive intensity. Ultracompetition is increased competitive intensity across new kinds of counterorganizations. This turns up the pressure dramatically. Ever consider students a counterorganization? Think again. At Harvard Medical School, students self-organized to pressure professors to stop accepting gifts from pharmaceutical companies, citing a clear lack of interest and diluted objectivity. The result? Harvard profs stopped accepting gifts, and the structure of pharmaceutical marketing changed, just a tiny bit.

How Spotify Balances Employee Autonomy and Accountability

Posted on by Brandon Klein

The squad structure achieves autonomy without sacrificing accountability. Every squad owns its features throughout the product’s life cycle, and the squads have full visibility into their features’ successes and failures. There is no single appointed leader of a squad; any such leadership role is emergent and informal. Results are visible both through internal reviews and through customer feedback, and squads are expected to fully understand successes and failures. Squads go through postmortem analyses of failures to ensure learning, and some squad rooms have “fail walls.” Every few weeks, squads conduct retrospectives to evaluate what is going well and what needs to improve.

To ensure that the feedback process is effective for individuals as well as for the squads, Spotify redesigned its performance management system to separate salary discussion and performance evaluations from coaching and feedback. Before, peer feedback was incorporated into salary reviews; in Spotify’s words, that “incentivized people to gather as many favorable reviews as possible rather than getting feedback around their biggest areas of potential improvement.” Now, colleagues use an internal tool to invite anyone — including managers, peers, and direct reports — to provide feedback on results and on what an individual can do to improve. Employees may solicit feedback as often as they choose. Spotify employee Jonas Aman told us, “The result is a process that everyone needs to own and drive themselves — it is about development and personal growth.”

Learning social network embeddings for predicting information diffusion

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Analyzing and modeling the temporal diffusion of information on social media has mainly been treated as a diffusion process on known graphs or proximity structures. The underlying phenomenon results however from the interactions of several actors and media and is more complex than what these models can account for and cannot be explained using such limiting assumptions. We introduce here a new approach to this problem whose goal is to learn a mapping of the observed temporal dynamic onto a continuous space. Nodes participating to diffusion cascades are projected in a latent representation space in such a way that information diffusion can be modeled efficiently using a heat diffusion process. This amounts to learning a diffusion kernel for which the proximity of nodes in the projection space reflects the proximity of their infection time in cascades. The proposed approach possesses several unique characteristics compared to existing ones. Since its parameters are directly learned from cascade samples without requiring any additional information, it does not rely on any pre-existing diffusion structure. Because the solution to the diffusion equation can be expressed in a closed form in the projection space, the inference time for predicting the diffusion of a new piece of information is greatly reduced compared to discrete models. Experiments and comparisons with baselines and alternative models have been performed on both synthetic networks and real datasets. They show the effectiveness of the proposed method both in terms of prediction quality and of inference speed.

Teams vs. Crowds: A Field Test of the Relative Contribution of Incentives, Member Ability, and Collaboration to Crowd-Based Problem Solving Performance

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Organizations are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing to solve difficult problems. This is often driven by the desire to find the best subject matter experts, strongly incentivize them, and engage them, with as little coordination cost as possible, to pool their knowledge. A growing number of authors, however, are calling for increased collaboration in crowdsourcing settings, hoping to draw upon the advantages of teamwork observed in traditional settings. The question is how to effectively incorporate team-based collaboration in a setting that has traditionally been individual-based. We report on a large field experiment of team collaboration on an online platform, in which incentives and team membership were randomly assigned, to evaluate the influence of exogenous inputs (member skills and incentives) and emergent collaboration processes on performance of crowd-based teams. Building on advances in machine learning and complex systems, we leverage new measurement techniques to examine the content and timing of team collaboration. We find that temporal "burstiness" of team activity and the diversity of information exchanged among team members are strong predictors of performance, even when inputs such as incentives and member skills are controlled. We discuss implications for research on crowdsourcing and team collaboration

The Secret of Buckminister Fuller’s World-Changing Ideas Was Serendipity

Posted on by Brandon Klein

In his 2016 book, You Belong to the Universe, Jonathon Keats sets out to release Buckminister Fuller from “the zany sci-fi designs that made him notorious, and rescue him from the groupies who have impounded him as a cultish prophet.”

Keats, a writer and artist who whips up his own world-changing ideas through trickster gallery and museum exhibitions, comes to Fuller’s rescue by venturing beneath the veneer of his infamous inventions—the geodesic dome, flying car, world peace games, and dome over Manhattan—to expose their broader significance. 

That significance can be summed up in the unwieldy title that Fuller gave himself: “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist.” The most succinct definition of the title is Fuller’s determination, he said, “to make the world work for 100 percent of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

The reason he wanted to make a flying car was because his first daughter died of meningitis.

As Keats points out, Fuller’s 100 percent ethos was prophetic “and only becomes more resonant in a society where half the world’s wealth is held by the wealthiest 1 percent.”

One of the qualities Keats most admires in Fuller, who was born in Massachusetts in 1895, is the inventor’s conviction that people learn through serendipity. His bewitching inventions, books, and lectures were designed to spur serendipitous thinking in others. Fuller knew, Keats writes, that “new ideas might emerge from the chance meeting of disparate information in a curious mind.” 

In his own life Fuller courted the lucky discovery. “He was an autodidact and a generalist, meaning that ideas from many realms could intermix freely in his mind,” Keats says. “Society needs generalists, who can bring essential creativity to the world’s problems.”

Fuller’s vision of an interactive world, and antipathy toward specialization, was a theme that ran through an interview I did with Keats before an audience at the AC Institute, an “art think tank” and exhibition space in New York City. Keats and I adapted our talk for the interview below.

In person, Keats is as provocative as he is in print—a quality Nautilus readers know from his essay, “Famous for Being Indianapolis: How Cities Are Like Kim Kardashian.” He is constitutionally incapable of swimming in the mainstream.

Self-segregation: how a personalized world is dividing Americans

Posted on by Brandon Klein

It’s a fact: while Americans have countless tools with which to connect with one another, we are also watching fragmentation, polarization, and de-diversification happen en masse. The American public is self-segregating, tearing at the social fabric of the country.

Many in the tech world imagined that the internet would connect people in unprecedented ways, allow for divisions to be bridged and wounds to heal – a Kumbaya dream of sorts. Today, those same dreamers find it quite unsettling to watch as the tools that were designed to bring people together are used by people to magnify divisions and undermine social solidarity.

These tools were built in a bubble, and that bubble has burst.

 

If you ask a college admissions officer at an elite institution to describe how they build a class of incoming freshmen, you will quickly realize that the American college system is a diversification project.

Unlike colleges in most parts of the world, the vast majority of freshmen at top-tier universities in the US live on campus with roommates who are assigned to them. Colleges approach housing assignments as an opportunity to pair diverse strangers with one another to build social ties. This makes sense given how many friendships emerge out of freshman dorms. By pairing middle-class kids with students from wealthier families, elite institutions help diversify the elites of the future.

This diversification project produces a tremendous amount of conflict. Although plenty of people adore their college roommates and relish the opportunity to get to know people from different walks of life as part of their college experience, there is an amazing amount of angst about dorm assignments and the troubles that brew once folks try to live together in close quarters. At many universities, residential life is often in the business of student therapy as students complain about their roommates and dorm-mates.

Yet just like in the military, learning how to negotiate conflict and diversity in close quarters can be tremendously effective in weaving the social fabric.