Charlene Li’s Upcoming “Open Leadership” Can Teach Orchestras How to Manage Social Media

Preliminary Design

Charlene Li sent me an advance copy of Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, to be released May 24. Thank you, Charlene. In 2008 Li co-authored Groundswell, which illustrates the nature and power of the social space. Further, Groundswell shows us how to define our strategy by figuring out the relationship we desire with customers rather than chasing a technology. Last month I summarized Groundswell the Bookits meaning for orchestras. Open Leadership moves beyond that base of knowledge by writing about the intersection of organization behavior and social media.

Social Technology Drives Institutional Openness

Li writes that “leaders must let go to gain more.” She backs all her directives, which I’ve restated here for orchestras, with stories from business and the social landscape.

  1. Give up control in favor of open leadership. You really never had control anyway. Your orchestra–and orchestras have been among the most secretive public institutions–will be forced to be more open by social technology. And that’s already proving beneficial for many organizations.
  2. Understand and quantify the benefits realized and obtainable through openness.
  3. Map out how open your orchestra will be across ten dimensions of openness. This demands increased rigor rather than a blind commitment to transparency. Even the navy can be open while literally running a tight ship. In many cases you aren’t giving up control, you’re shifting it to someone in whom you have confidence.
  4. Define and make two covenants of openness, one with employees and another with your audience.
  5. Reconcile the openness of your orchestra’s internal relationships with its social media relationships.
  6. Adapt your orchestra’s leadership culture to the greater openness that will be required.

Li lavishly shares the means to manage change through action plans, worksheets, examples, diagrams, checklists and assessment tools. Further, she promises eight free online tools at publication.

Get it. Read it. Use it.

Is Open Leadership about marketing strategy? Or about leadership? Marrying organization behavior to the volatile social technology arena is an ambitious task. Indeed, Part III sprawls into leadership essays that don’t advance the literature. It’s OK. The strength of the book—its unique gift—lies in its insights into the interplay of social technology with management. Those insights will help you map the path to design, develop, gain support for and implement a social media strategy within  your orchestra. What could be more important today?

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2 Responses to Charlene Li’s Upcoming “Open Leadership” Can Teach Orchestras How to Manage Social Media

  1. Hi Bruce,

    I discuss Charlene’s ideas in a blog post – ‘Open Leadership + Enterprise 2.0: the practices that can make them real’ – which is here:

    I’m looking forward to actually reading the book…

    Library & Information Update’s News Editor

  2. Bruce responded (on my blog):

    What an astonishing post, that ties together so many thinkers on management and Web 2.0. Thank you.

    Having read and reviewed an advance copy of the book, I believe it’s most convincing when it focuses on how to manage the degree of openness across all the dimensions affecting an organization as it relates to social technology. Charlene Li also effectively shows how and why social media are driving openness. Those achievements make Open Leadership an important book. It’s another matter to top Chris Argyris and other writers on broader questions of leadership and change management.

    My response to Bruce:

    I’m glad you found my Open Leadership think-piece astonishing’… but in a good way ;-)

    I suppose the unanswered questions for me include:

    • Could we conceivably get to ‘Enterprise 2.0′ – or Library 2.0 – without the firm foundation of a ‘Model 2′ (mutual learning-based) organisation?

    • Can Model 2 (mutual learning) organisations ever come into existence without the involvement of some of the ‘sustained interventions’ (as McAfee put it) that people like Argyris, Torbert, Senge, Kegan have practiced in organisations?

    • Is the openness that social media drives us towards, the same openness and vulnerability that seems to be characteristic of the most mature – and effective – stages of leadership maturity?

    • Put even more simply: is social media accelerating individual’s psychological growth?

    That’s plenty to get our teeth into – though most of these kinds of questions aren’t even really on the table yet…

    Would it have made any difference if I’d got to Charlene Li 6 months or a year before I did…? ;-)

    (I sent her a detailed e-mail, somewhat along the lines of the above blog post – in early December).

    Matthew Mezey
    (News Editor, Library & Information Update magazine)

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