A Perspective on Curatorship

The 1st Dimension in the NET Model of Social Leadership is Narrative. Curation is one part of this, and it’s to do with how we shape our presence, how we curate our reputation.

“Curation focuses on three states: discovery, perception and interpretation. Discovery is about how we find things out, Perception’s about seeing the structure and Interpretation is about finding the meaning, contextualising it to our reality. Curation is an active skill, not a passive one: it’s about identifying gaps in skills and knowledge and plugging them, but also about building communities and networks. Curation is a continuous process, forming a foundation for the stories we tell.”

We can view ‘curation’ as taking control of something we do naturally: we all curate our presence, whether we think about it or not. What shoes you wear, how your hair is cut, what car you drive, who you send Birthday cards to, these are all curatorial acts. As we define our personas, create the spaces that we live and work in, then we also fill in the gaps: we learn new skills, buy new clothes, make new contacts to expand and fill our lives in specific ways.

In a museum, the curator has many responsibilities: they find and bring new artefacts into the collection, with an eye on the value of that object in isolation, but also in the context of the rest of the collection. An original Apple Macintosh computer may be nice in isolation, but in the context of a display showing the complete sequence of development through to the iPad today, it’s got greater value. Context is everything.

But it’s not enough to just have something within the collection: we have to be able to identify and articulate the value. We have to be able to interpret it within a context for the recipient (which i’ll cover in more detail around ‘interpretation’ in due course…)

In the NET Model, we explore three facets of Curation: Discovery, Perception and Interpretation. This is really about how we find things our, how we make sense of them and how we share them, adding context.

Discovery is about placing a stake in the ground and identifying what actions you will take to support that space: what space will you claim as a leader? Do you specialise in particular areas, such as technical project management, legal or operations, or are you a generalist? Do you specialise around projects or around developing teams? In the Social Age, agility is key, but we will also each curate areas of specialism. You need to lay some foundations for reputation as a social leader, and once you have done this, you can start to fill in the gaps.

I’m toying with this format as a structure for this diagnostic exercise, but it’s a work in progress and i may change it later. It’s a reflective exercise to think about where you add the most value. Are you all about ideas? Are you a starter? Are you about the detail, do you put the structure in place? Are you about people, forming and deploying teams, inspiring and supporting, or are you about process and compliance, controlling costs and timescales? You probably do a bit of all of these, but where do you see your strengths? They are all aspects of agility.

If you are a Starter, you need to curate discover how to be a superb communicator. If you are all about the detail, you need to understand perspective. If you are for people, then facilitating co-creation is key and in Process, it’s about agility in the Social Age. As an exercise, individuals would work to determine their perceived strengths, then think about how to discover communities and skills to reinforce these.

I’ll leave it at that for today, but revisit this to flesh it out further. It’s a more involved process than i’d anticipated!

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