Monday, October 21, 2013

PLNs at work

My big reveal is about to happen! 

As part of the mooc, Exploring Personal Networks: Practical Issues for Organizations, the facilitator Jeff Merrell stated that he was unaware of any organization requiring PLNs. In the organization I work for (large urban school board) PLNs are required for staff who self-identify for participation in leadership development.

Another essential part of participating in the leadership framework is working with a mentor(s). The feedback we have received so far is that the protege/mentor relationships are very significant!!! 

Here is the key part that we might have stumbled into fortuitously. Ideally, creating a PLN (which, I would venture to say, most mentors are not consciously aware of having - at least most of them are not familiar with the term PLN, although they all know how to network) is done with the assistance of your mentor pointing you towards key connections within the organization and within the field. This creates the opportunity for a very nice reciprocal mentorship. Most of the aspiring and emerging leaders are a good deal younger and more tech savvy than their mentors. So, mentors assist proteges with connections and navigating some of the ambiguity of leadership and proteges assist mentors in developing tech skills. 

The organization views PLNs as a personal component contributing to leadership competency. The focus of our leadership framework is 12 identified competencies. All staffing groups are eligible to participate (custodial, support, exempt, teachers & maintenance). We espouse lifelong learning and our aim is to build leadership capacity within staff (rather than defining set outcomes and checkboxes for promotions).


  1. Hi Maureen, this looks like a promising idea for helping leaders to develop their own PLNs and realise the value of them (which would presumably encourage the rest of the organisation to do the same...) - thinking it could be quite useful for addressing the PLN "problem" in #xplrpln!
    How long has this been going for in your organisation, and do you know how successful it has been so far?

  2. I'm intrigued by the link you make to PLN and leadership development/mentoring. I really like the connections you've drawn here and could imagine this could work well.
    Like Tanya, I wonder, has this been successful?

  3. This was initiated a little over a year ago. It is hard to know what the impact is. What it has done is put PLNs on the agenda. There are about 150+ people participating in our leadership development framework and now they are thinking about, wondering about, exploring the concept of a PLN. As both of you understand, exploring what PLNs are with a cohort is a very strong model.