The Future of Creativity Is Relational

We came across an interesting interview online recently with Seattle based author and consultant, Peggy Holman.

During the interview, Holman was questioned about what she sees as the new paradigm of work, and her points on networks and link leadership really resonated with the team here @ BizDojo HQ:

I see a shift underway from hierarchies to networks.

The implications for what leadership looks like are profound. Not only can it come from anywhere, but if you consider the dynamics of networks, what constitutes leadership varies more.

Think about the difference between pack animals, with alpha leaders keeping others in line versus birds, ants, bees, or other animals that seem to function with no one in charge.

In hierarchies, a few people make strategic decisions for everyone else. Increasing complexity – a more diverse public, greater access to a broader range of perspectives, technological innovations affecting scale and scope of just about everything – makes this strategy less effective. No longer can a few people with relatively similar backgrounds and perspectives make the best choices for the rest of us.

In contrast, leadership in networks is collective and relational, as people form hubs and link with others.

From the outside, hubs in a network look a lot like hierarchical organizations: groups of people organized to accomplish something together. That makes it easy to confuse leadership of a hub with hierarchical leadership, thinking the same rules apply. Not! Giving orders, chain of command, top-down decision making doesn’t function when people can choose whether to participate.

Hubs form because people are attracted to them. Hubs grow when people are drawn to the purpose and/or the people and believe that they can both give and/or receive something of value. The remarkable communities that maintain Wikipedia or fill the open source software movement are examples of networks producing real-world benefit.

More elusive is link leadership — connecting people, organizations, and ideas. Why is connecting people or organizations a form of leadership? If you want breakthroughs, interactions among those who don’t usually meet is an essential ingredient. And when hubs connect to hubs, ideas can spread like wildfire.”

Here at the Dojo, a key focus for us over the last year has been the formation and consolidation of the first hubs in our network. Going into 2012, we’ll be looking more intensely at link leadership as a key catalyst for creativity and innovation across our community and beyond.