I also think that having an open and constant stream of communication is the most important thing I’ve learned during this. It’s not a lesson I personally will have learned overnight, but it certainly shifted my attention for future endeavors of this or any other nature really. Even your greatest ideas could get lost in the ocean of your silence and will slowly drift from memory. We are social creatures after all, overcoming any and all barriers that would otherwise shut you up in certain situations should be your main objective. I am appealing to you dear follower of our footsteps. Challenge authority! Ask the uncomfortable questions, stir things up! That will only open up many new interesting questions to be answered. I think that is the essence of this course. Charting your way through team dynamics, speaking up and not letting your voice disappear in the mist. Invaluable experience indeed. Kudos for setting it all up, cheers to Nancy, Alan and all our tutors.
Closing in on the end and final judgment of our work, I can’t help but feel anxious in a way like a newcomer to Hollywood who was lucky enough to land a main role in the next big flick, and can’t think of anything but that the movie has to be good. Great in fact, because that nobody has put his heart and soul into this one in a million opportunity to be part of something that just has to be mind-blowing… doesn’t it?
It’s that nagging question in the back of your head that against all your confidence refuses to go silent, that appendix to a boastful sentence, that manages just a little to shake all your self-assuredness. Isn’t it?
We all like to believe that we have the best that anyone could’ve come up with given similar circumstances. Working in a strange new environment with only the tools given, your brains, your teams, your… communities? I still can’t honestly say that I have understood what this word actually means in this context. Is it the far-distance-relationships that cling onto their dear life against all odds? Is the great move from physical face to face interactions of a conventional workplace to the digital plains in our very own teams? I like to think that it’s all that and more. Also I’d like to state that I truly appreciate Nancy’s newly coined word ‘confusiasm’ at this stage.
I’d also like to thank whoever brought the Zen principles to my attention, I can deeply identify myself with them. I’m actually considering Buddhism at this point. I’d also add oppenness to those. I’ve heard a very compelling story about inviting all manner of strangeness into our lives, and applying that has made my life richer. Communication is essential for any form of network or community. It is the fabric of which it is made.
We’ve finally found a name for our group. One of the more mundane tasks of a team, yet very essential. It signifies the title of the manual of our team. A manual that has yet to be written. The culture we want to represent as a team, an entity that is working towards the same goal. A simple name that allows to further develop our team culture, an identity which will eventually bind us to one another, set our rules of conduct and our resposibilities, not to certain individuals, nor to a task or a job that needs to be done. But to Solidaderos. The team.
Being part of a team and feeling to be a team are two completely different things - one is on paper, the other in your soul. Bridges need building, connections need making, a sense of belonging needs creating.
We’ve had a rough time so far. A whole lotta confusiasm! Everyone is looking for their part in the next scene, just untill the next “Cut!” and we fall back to a stage of casting auditions for the next scene. Not knowing what to do, yearning for a loud authority voice to give directions - untill we realise there is no script to this movie. It’s all improvised and made up on a live stage. I suppose with the entire project there is a lack of orientation.
It’s not all bleak news though. Through this storming phase can only come a ray of sunshine and I believe we’ve had a glimpse - a very bright picture of the perfect team. It is a dynamic team, pro-active, involved and caring. Cultivating individual freedom in a collaborative environment. A team where everyone not only knows what to do, but finds their own things to do and doesn’t loose sight of the target. Not a drummer that gives the beat but a maestro that directs the orchestre towards harmony.
Enough of these weird metaphors now. I believe that small teams work best. As someone smart once said “I do not have the key to success, but I know the one to failure. It’s trying to make everyone happy.” After the protests in turkey small community fora started to pop up everywhere and people started to discuss where the protests should be heading. A form of direct democracy. The one that I joined up in Amsterdam showed me how that truly is however. People start fighting and arguing about even the most mundane things, like for instance the name of the forum, and absolutely nothing gets done. Small teams specialising on a certain task and then showing what they’ve come up with to solve that problem seems much more productive. Little focus groups tackling a problem, and consulting others if they get stuck. Kind of like a red team, getting fresh eyes on a work in progress. That practice gives the ability to spot mistakes and ‘unbiased’ outside opinions. I’ve also suggested weekly 15min blitz-meetings to structure workload and keep up on progress. I think that can give us a lot of stability as a work group. Either way, a restructuring is under way. I’m curious about our meeting tomorrow
I’ve recently come to experience how important it really is to build up a network of trusted sources and people that can help you get things done in one way or another. For example, with my latest project I’ve met a very interesting person who, after having contacted her, immediately got interested in what I do. She is a journalist/photographer writing about technology and international politics and was kind enough to donate a lot of photo material to use in my project. Plus, I got to fiddle around with one of three Google Glasses in all of Holland :D
This was the first time that I had actually made a new contact on the web who turned out to be very dear and important to me. I’ve always frequented websites and online tools (gawker media, with the ability to connect with seemingly complete strangers, but somehow I’ve never figured out how to actually connect to someone in such an impersonal way. It always seemed so arbitrary.
It stands out to me that I do have an unmet need to connect to people. I suppose I just haven’t found the right medium yet. Especially considering all my weirdness, I’d say it isn’t easy to find my way in the world. I only know that I’ll keep trying.
I’m always on the lookout for the newest among online tools, that make life just a tad easier. Eversince I started to get bored with my studies in Vienna I was looking for new and exciting extra curricular activities and ways to better organise myself within my projects. I had a great experience as part of the student body at my dorm, where we managed the common space and finances, by investing into a top of the line home theatre system and a pool table for example. Back then we used an online collaboration tool called asana.com
It was a great way of sharing our progress and our small group projects and let others know about our progress. Also great to keep a record of our actions as the student body. I’ve enjoyed it a lot but it has a drawback: it takes some getting used to! Easy to use, check. Remembering to use it? Now, that’s a different story… Another great online tool, that I use to this day (also in collaboration with my team) is evernote. It’s a great tool to keep your thoughts organised and empty your mind for amazing new things :)
By now I’ve become a premium user and even collaborate with my team in a shared notebook. It gives the ability to webclip straight from your browser to create new notes and adding photos, voice recordings, as well as documents to collect everything that has to do with one of your projects in one place for review. Or not. Still, a great and easy tool :))
One thing is for certain, everything beats email :o
I was so happy when I found out that our group got the Solidaridad assignment. Fund-raising for an NGO? Now that’s tough! Good luck to my peers with that! The way I see it we get to work on a way to ease information flow and communication within a large global organisation with it’s local stations all around the world. This seems like a do-able challenge! After a period of uncertainty about the limitations of our assignment, the thought of having to work in a certain framework, and thinking that there really was just one good answer, it turns out that all those fears have been for naught. I think the more we, as a group, understood the freedom we were given the more ideas came bursting out about finding out why they needed our help, how to approach it and what to find out before we actively engaged in the assignment. I feel very confident about my group and I believe we might actually come up with a great system to introduce to our NGO. To truly find something great, not only in concept, but also in practice, I need to learn as much as possible about their current infrastructure, the way they operate and their ability to implement potentially complex systems into their structure. I don’t have much experience in the IT field, however, I can bring a great deal of ideas and IT professional contacts to the table. The only problem is to find out if those ideas are within the realm of possibilities. I found a very interesting document on their website, that sort of is a digest of all the information I need to understand what it is that they are doing, globally as well as structurally within themselves. I’m happy about having done a speed reading seminar, else this 65 page beast probably would’ve seemed too big to tackle. I’ve already been thinking about some ways to ease up communication by making all knowledge available intuitively. I want to eliminate this scene from their offices