In the Open PLN Seminar we’ve been given the suggested task of compiling a case for some sort of PLN strategy for a CEO who is keen but doesn’t know much about them. Here’s the quote:
Your CEO (or equivalent organizational leader) just heard about PLNs at a cocktail party and is excited about gaining a competitive advantage (or improving impact on mission) by leveraging PLNs for the organization’s success. But, she/he knows little about PLNs or what to do with them to support organizational success and strategy. Is the organization set up to benefit from and support PLNs, so it is more than just an individual thing? She/he is going away on vacation for one week, and upon return wants you to explain what PLNs are and to provide guidance for what to do. You have a one-hour meeting to facilitate a conversation.
Our challenge: What would your case be?
Here’s the link to the page in context. And, here are my initial thoughts:
- The initial distinction is one of PLNs for individuals and PLNs for organizations. The questions that needs to be considered first is Are PLNs for organizations possible? Assuming I’m not going to flat out answer ‘no’ and move on, then the question is better stated In what ways do PLNs suit organizations?
We confronted something similar to this at our own organization a few months ago in deciding how to use Twitter in connection to various departments, projects and individuals within our group. It certainly wasn’t a clear-cut answer, but I do think we managed a good solution – that was to go with individual Twitter accounts. In this way, the the various PLNs that surround the organization make up the organization’s PLN, in a whole is greater than the sum of its parts sort of way. To really make an organizational PLN happen, there would need to be a further step of somehow encapsulating the inner PLN of the collected PLNs for use and purposefulness. (read about our organizational decision here)
- The role of the CEO would need to be addressed, as well. A controlling, micro-PLN-managing CEO would just result in a very robotic type of presence, which wouldn’t come off well. From my experiences, I would to try define the CEO role for the PLN project in terms of personnel management. Hands-on CEOs tend to be (in my experience) good with people and good judges of people. They may best serve the project as being able to place people in position, then stepping back to let them run. As well, providing the network with their own contacts (ie: making connections between others), which they probably have plenty, would be another important role for CEOs.
- And my last initial thought is about the set-up. Great consideration for the set-up of building a PLN would need to take place, and this would especially need to be emphasized to someone in the CEO’s position who probably doesn’t have much experience with online communities and distance learning. This project won’t be as easy to implement and maintain as they think, and it won’t be as cheap as they think. Setting up the environment, with ample support, so that employees can build PLNs, would need new roles to be created within the organization (even new employees?) and new software, training and infrastructures…not to mention new learning mindsets. For example, will employees be paid to network? How will this be measured?