Friday, August 12, 2011

Virtual Velocity: The Speed to Human Connectivity

One of the reasons that people like me exist is to help increase virtual velocity. I’m not talking about the speed of technological connections (instantaneous takes some beating unless we can create technologies that connect us even before we have thought about connecting – would that be pretaneous?)
No, I’m talking about the speed to human connectivity – in other words the speed at which we can create a shared experience of mutual understanding about how we each feel, think, and do. I’m not saying we would agree with each other’s feelings, thinking and doing, but we would each have a clear understanding of one another.
Even working face-to-face we might not come to know and understand each other very well; the virtual dimension just adds another layer of complexity to building relationships.
Working in a virtual network – as many of us do – requires partnering, and partnering requires what Gervase Bushe in his book Clear Leadership calls ‘collaborative organizing’.  His intent in the book is to address two problems detrimental to collaborative organizing:
1.       We each create our own experience although we think others create it. We each have a unique experience, so who is having the right experience?
2.       We are sense-making beings and make up stories about others so that we can fill in the gaps of what we know about their experience.
The result is ‘interpersonal mush’ - interactions based on stories people have made up about each other, but have not checked out.  The antidote is interpersonal clarity generated from learning conversations in which we get to know each other’s experience. With interpersonal clarity we are able to change and improve our communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution.  
Virtual space is one big petri dish for forming and developing stories about those we may never meet in person. Typically, virtual communications give fewer clues about what we are experiencing.  Given differences in cultures and communication styles our stories can be extremely distorted and damaging.
 And so, virtual velocity is our speed in achieving interpersonal clarity (human connectivity) in our virtual space.  A space in which we have mutual understanding about how we each feel, think, and do.   

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