This week I am serving the second of my two weeks of jury duty for the Franklin County Municipal Court. I have been told at least ten times that this is the busiest court system in the state of Ohio and one of the busiest in the country. In fact, Franklin Muni is being studied as a beta test for how to handle and schedule jurors to improve one’s experience when the summons arrive. I have been here for seven days and only one case had gone to a jury trial—and I was fortunate to be a part of the selected jury.
The case itself was pretty cut and dry. There was a car accident where one driver was cited and accepted responsibility. Five to seven days after the accident, the plaintiff started feeling sore. He went to the emergency and physicians racking up $7,000 in medical bills that he wanted the defendant to pay for since he caused the accident. But, then it got interesting. The plaintiff has five felonies in his past for crimes involving dishonesty and lying. The defendant’s lawyer argued that the injuries were not incurred from the accident, but were chronic issues suffered before the incident.
As we went into jury deliberations, it was clear, we were a group of networked individuals. Many of the jurors wanted to talk about their own experiences in car accidents or how pain can show up after an injury takes place. Others wanted to make several assumptions on the plaintiff and the defendant based on their own belief system. “This guy seems honest.” “He lives with his mom and goes to church.” “He couldn’t remember the gender of his physician, but that could be a cultural thing.” While we had one purpose, we had differing points of view and experience which we all brought with us. As the magistrate told us later: this is the beauty of juries. Juries have the advantage of bouncing ideas off one another to come to a verdict, a judge only has him/herself.
In many ways, the statement from the magistrate sums up one of the advantages of networked individuals. While each person brings his/her own belief system, experience, training and thoughts to the situations, each one is working together to achieve the common goal. The provides the leader with the opportunity to have a multidisciplinary solution or course of action as described by Rainie (2013). The rise and accessibility of the Internet has made these networks larger and across entire enterprises as connecting with others is easier than ever before.
Organizations with multidisciplinary, cross-functional teams are connected as a wirearchy, not a traditional hierarchy. Wienberger (2011) shared that Wikipedia has embraced a networked approach to its community by developing a set of policies and processes to enable the community to have control of the content. My concern is that this strategy might never achieve the desired results. This approach can lead to more robust discussions and dialogues, but can it also paralyze a company from moving forward? It could lead to analysis paralysis.
There are times when a decision needs to be made and too much time is spent in discussions. A leader is needed to make a decision and stand by the decision. Smith and Anderson (2014) interviewed several executives about the changes that will be impact jobs in the coming years. One respondent (Jonathan Grudin) discussed that technology will continue to disrupt jobs. He continued that jobs will still need to be created. A leader will help ensure that the workforce is prepared for the new tasks which are required.
The best solution for leading the workforce through these changes is to have a hybrid approach to a fully networked organization. Flexibility in the workplace will be necessary to accommodate the needs of works and adapt to the needs of the workforce as some tasks are automated and new job functions are created. The ten most important skills of 2020 focus on intangible skills such as critical thinking, social intelligence, and cross-cultural thinking. These soft skills are not always taught in the classroom, but instead are taught though the actions of great leaders.
Oh, and about that jury trial. We found in favor of the plaintiff, but there was one holdout. You’ll never guess who that was.