Google Code-In

Ooooo this is so exciting! Every year, Google opens an open source development competition for students of between 13-17 years. This is Google Code-In.Google chooses a number of open source organisations and these issue a number of tasks. The way this competition works is that once students enrol, they can choose the tasks they want to do from those available and once they complete one task they go to complete another, and another, etc. There is a limited time frame of about 5-6 weeks finish their chosen tasks. If the students manage to carry their tasks they can win some cool prizes, with a grand prize of a trip to Google’s Mountain View Headquarters. Currently the Google Code-In competition is on-going but you can either keep a look-out for next fall or else hurry up and enrol now – you still have a few days to participate!

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Community Canvas -a community-building framework

At the GDG Pan European Lead Summit, we were also introduced to this really awesome community-building framework. First of all I have to mention that this framework is licensed under the creative commons act, and therefore this is available for interested users to make use of. First of all it is important to define the elements of what makes up a community. Somehow I am used to writing about communities of practice, communities of inquiry and participatory cultures in online media. However this workshop made me go back to the basics of what a community truly means. The basic roots of a community trace back to people – a community is made up of people, for the people, so that people feel a sense of belonging. It is not about the organisation per se, and although the community is defined by the people making it up, the people within it should not be defined by the rules of the community. The scope of the community canvas  is to provide community leaders or organisers with the right tools to create meaningful relationships for the people making up the communities.

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The framework is made up of 3 sections dealing with identity, experience and structure. The identity aims to define the community and the goals that drive it – therefore in this section leaders pose the questions of who the members of the community are and why they are part of this community. It seems rather a part of rhetoric but one of the issues that is grossly overrated is that of communication and it seems rather ironic that in a community that doesn’t function community lacks! Therefore it is important that concepts, ideas, thoughts and visions are clear for everyone. Who are we? What do we want to do together? These are crucial questions to ask. The second section of the framework deals with the experience, and therefore we have to think about how the community per se can add value to each of the individual making it up. As with any other relationship, for a community to work out, there needs to be a relationship of give and take. This means that as leaders we have to ask: what can our community give to its members? This is the part where rules are clearly stated, as are the community member roles. Let’s all give and take value from this relationship. The third section of the framework is all about the structure of the community. Therefore one has to think about the organisation of the community, about funding mechanisms, and about how the data from the community is managed, valued and used. The community canvas is a great tool that is accompanied by a guidebook and a template for questions leading the definition of the community canvas framework.

This is a great tool and one which I am definitely looking forward to use in the future when helping to build more communities!

GDG Leads PanEuropean Summit

Here I am at Google Startup Campus Madrid, attending for the first time ever the GDG leads Pan European Summit – meeting other community members and for once I am here not to give talks or lectures but to learn, and network with other like minded people.

Today the focus is on Conflict Resolution with an excellent workshop being led by Pedro Rubio. Rubio introduced us to this concept by telling us immediately that we have to change our way of thinking. Now this is so much easier said than done – especially in the context of conflicts and resolving conflicts. Most of the time, when there is a conflict, there is an internal problem which we need to fix and the way of fixing it is changing the way we think. 

Whether it’s for the workplace or whether this is for a personal need, we need to shift from our personal perspectives to try and think about common needs – and find strategies to solve the situation and achieve the needs. 

There are thoughts and feelings – and most often these are driven by needs. To identify the needs one has to ask the question – Why? Why do I want this thing to happen? What is my basic need in this? Needs are never in conflict. It’s the strategy to achieve that need that can be in conflict. 

Everything we say or do is ultimately driven by our needs.

In a conflict between 2 or more people there is the issue of thoughts and actions. When the communication between the people lags, one has to connect feelings and needs with the other person/s. This is a three-dimensional relationship.

Worldwide statistics show that 66% of the workforce are not engaged in work and work places. This means that they will do their work but will not go to any extra lengths. 14% of the people are engaged – which means they will always be open to go to extra lengths at work – they are active, collaborative and energetic. The rest of the 20% are actively disengaged – and will go to creating conflicts. 

So when we are in a leadership position the situation changes to one where as leaders we take into account the needs of others. And the more we take into account these different needs, the stronger will the leadership be. We have to distinguish between needs and wants. I may want something but that does not necessarily relate to my needs. 

Despite good leadership conflicts will still arise because of three main reasons: 1. different perspectives, 2. overlapped systems, 3. feedback not given. Feedback is most often given gratuitously, yet it is an important aspect of conflict resolution.

But how and when should feedback be given? When feedback is given for recognition, one makes an observation without judgement, whilst addressing what needs have been satisfied. This is called honest feedback. When feedback is given for improvement, we discuss what could be done for that person, or for that person’s actions to be better, and why these could be better. What needs would be satisfied when this action or behaviour is improved?

Now this relationship management and conflict resolution is so very much easier said than done. But fear not, says Rubio, the key lies in practice, practice, practice!