I love it when things come about and they look like you carefully planned them. The debut of Ragtag Leadership at BarCamp Auckland was one of those times.
If you've never been to BarCamp, it's an unconference. Which means anyone can present, and a presentation is expected to be two-way - a discussion with the audience, not just a presentation at the audience.
I wondered if I was in the right room when I arrived and found the room filling up. I was ... and when I asked how many Firefly fans there were in the room, the hands shot up. My subtitle: "Why we need less Captain Kirk and more Captain Mal" struck a nerve.
We had a few projector troubles at first but that didn't prevent us getting underway... I explained that Ragtag Leadership is going to be a book but is currently a concept under development, and I'm looking to co-develop it with as many people as possible.
I'm so glad I did. People loved the general concept - that we can learn more about leadership and management from science fiction than from abstract textbooks. A lot of nodding heads when I said most business books were boring.
And people liked the contrast between the Star Trek model and the Firefly model. Doctor Who got somewhat lost, so I'll have to rethink that piece.
(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry, it'll all end up here on the blog - and in the eventual book)
I did get some great push backs, like:
- Firefly the situation represents ragtag leadership (empowering, improvised), but Captain Mal the character is didactic and arrogant in his leadership style. He gets by on charisma. I'm going to have to rewatch a few Firefly episodes while I think over that one.
- Being ragtag is easy for a startup, but what about a business unit that in turn has to report to other business units. There's gold there. At the end of BarCamp I spoke with Rochelle, who told me about her previous boss who fiercely protected his business unit's independence and sense of identity, despite being part of a larger organisation. Rochelle told me she realised only after this boss had left what an awesome leader he was.
And thanks to Haunani Pao who reminded me of one of the most important Ragtag Leadership factors that I'd completely forgotten about in putting together the slides: Captain Mal hires experts. Each one of the Firefly crew knows more about their job than Mal, and that's just fine. He never interferes in their specialty, he just leads and brings their skills together when needed. That's probably the most important part of Ragtag Leadership. And I nearly forgot it! So many thanks, Haunani.
I recorded the session, and hope to edit it this weekend and upload it here.
Meantime, live long and prosper. Shiny.