The talk that got me thinking the most at Research 2011 was by Charles Leadbeater, author of We-Think. He wasn’t talking about We-Think, though, he was talking about “intimacy at scale”, and specifically about an all-explaining DIAGRAM he had drawn on a powerpoint slide.
I am a big fan of diagrams, especially when they claim to explain everything, so as you can imagine I liked this one. I can’t find a copy of it online so I have DRAWN one here:
But did I think it worked? Well, let me try and describe it.
It was a quadrant analysis chart. On the left-right axis you had EMPATHY and on the up-down one you had SYSTEM. What did these words mean? Well, SYSTEM seemed pretty clear. You had low-system things, with low levels of formal organisation (or at least low levels of WORKING organisation), and high-system things, where people had built complex systems which basically worked.
EMPATHY was a bit trickier. It seemed to be about individual relationships, and the extent to which people cared about and could trust one another. Sometimes the meaning seemed to slip into “niceness” though, or at least a level of relational trust aimed towards doing stuff which Leadbeater and his audience approved of.