Captain's Log Issue #94 - Twenty Nineteen

Julian Stodd, December 2019

2019 has been an eventful year: the death of my father and the birth of my son have provided me with a stark relief if one were needed about the importance of the journey, not simply a focus on the destination. The three months i was able to take off for paternity were an important time, the joys of parenthood continue to unfold before me.

From a work perspective, this year has largely been a period of consolidation and scale: my two main areas of focus have been to work on the Social Age Guidebooks, and to build out the Certifications, both of which have been a great success.

The nature of #WorkingOutLoud means that my writing carries ideas forward on a daily basis, but can also mean i lack a structured space to put a stake in the ground. My inability to complete the manuscript for the Change Handbook has largely related to this: every time i get close i tend to throw in a new idea and move the end point. The Social Age Guidebook format has allowed me to address both these challenges.

Intentionally short and incomplete, they allow me to draw together work from the blog, to make a more complete picture, whilst also giving me an inherent permission to share the work as still evolving and incomplete.

The Certifications are really about the transition from ‘idea’ to pragmatic reality, grounded in everyday action. I have always tried to keep a strong focus on this: to carry out research and develop ideas, but to ground those ideas in action in short order.

‘Social Leadership: My 1st 100 Days’ was the foundation for this, a book intended to be used daily to shape, provoke, and guide, reflection and action. From here, the Certifications were a natural next step.

The ability to move my work to scale is important, as it grows a community, and in my world, it is community that carries me forward: it gives me space and permission to operate, and often houses the research and space to prototype new ideas.

Alongside my own writing, Sea Salt Learning continues to thrive, and i am proud of the work we have done this year, around the world.

Whilst looking forward to a holiday, and time to enjoy Christmas with my family, i am excited for what 2020 will bring.

I have a whole series of books ready to go, or near completion.

January will bring ‘The Learning Science Guidebook’ to life (i just need to do a series of illustrations to complete this), as well as ‘The Social Age Guidebook’, and probably ‘The Socially Dynamic Organisation Manual’.

I also intend to get ‘The Humble Leader’ together in Q1, but this will take some time and energy as it needs illustrations, and has some complexity in production to get to the standard i want from it.

I will also be launching three new Certifications, starting with ‘Social Learning Instructional Design’ also in Q1.

All of my work continues to be shared freely, as it always will be: all the Social Age Guidebooks are available as free eBooks, and i run regular Open Sessions, throughout the year. This is a central premise of Social Leadership: to invest in our community, as our community invests in us.

My writing

I’ve completed the series ‘From Domain to Dynamic’ this week, alongside a couple of other pieces of writing.

Politics of Reconnection

I wrote this piece after the election last week, a reflection on the politics of division, and the ways we may have to work to connect beyond our differences. It’s probably very aspirational, and unrealistic, but it was how i felt on a bruised day in the UK.

The Dog Eats Strange Things

With thanks for Alli, who shared these words in a session i ran around Learning Transformation: this is about how the grinding reality of our everyday lives gets in the way of the better and different person we all wish we were.

Community Builder Action Cards

The prototypes for these have just arrived, and i can’t wait to start getting them into action next year.


Domain to Dynamic #6 and #7

These are the final two pieces in the series ‘Domain to Dynamic’, which will form the foundation of the text for ‘The Socially Dynamic Organisation Manual’ that i will work on in January.

The first piece (number 6 in the series) builds out the idea of the Dynamic Tension, the tension between formal and social systems, and how we need this tension to thrive.

This second piece is an overview of what it means to be Socially Dynamic, an overview of the features and traits of this type of Organisation.

What i'm thinking about

As this is my final piece of writing for the year, i feel i should end with the Christmas spirit. But which one? In our adult lives, we lack chapter points and markers: we celebrate birthdays, but our graduation is long behind us, and retirement way ahead. Sometimes our life lacks obvious segments, so we invent our own. The statutory holidays, religious for some, retail for others, break up the year, and almost inevitably align with our realisation that we should be a better/fitter/thinner version of ourselves next year.

But what about the better version of ourselves that we should be every day?

Through the year, as the years before, you will see a theme of fairness and kindness permeate my work around Social Leadership, and next year i hope to get the book on Humility in leadership published. These are not just things that are nice: they are the foundations of our social currency and coherence. Without fairness, without trust, without kindness that extends to those we do not even know, and without a humility to change, we lack any sense of a decent society, a civil one.

But kindness & co is not just about giving, and not just about Christmas. It’s about our actions in every moment, the ways that we invest in others, the ways that we hold others safely, or fail to do so.

One of the Community Builder Action Cards is about Exclusion, and it encourages the bearer to take themselves into a new space, an excluded one. Perhaps that is the thought to end the year on: we are all typically kind to those that we know and love, and that’s an incredible thing. But perhaps we should leave the decade behind with kindness shared into a new space. Perhaps an excluded one. Taking an action with no audience, giving something with no space for recognition or thanks. Being kind into a community. Beyond our tribal limits. Because if we want the society we desire, we will have to build it.


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