Commentary - The Power Of NetCells...

One of several unique features of the Polaris Program is the concept of NetCells which are peer-to-peer advisory groups. Participants are invited and encouraged to construct and sustain a small group of colleagues who will serve as a virtual advisory board.

I love to fly – pure.  I don’t mean as a passenger, and nor am I referring to clutching the controls of a powered aircraft.  I mean to fly effortlessly and freely in a glider or sail plane.  The sensation is unique, exhilarating and the closest experience to perfect expression that I’ve ever known.

When I’m airborne I feel I can achieve anything – there are absolutely no impediments.   When I land I have a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  To attain any part of this though, I need teamwork and direct assistance to launch.  The initial part of my flight is a tow to a height of 3000 feet or more behind a tow aircraft.  When we fly, we work together to get each pilot to the release point. 

It’s just the same in business!  So, let’s consider doing the same thing for our careers.

I’m recommending NetCells.  This is a self-help group that comes together regularly to assist one another get to the ‘release point’.  Instead of an aircraft, we focus on Issues – governance, leadership and/or management ‘wrinkles’ that might occur in the smooth fabric of business. 

Our purpose is to ‘gain altitude’ – to broaden our perspectives, deepen our insights and expand our awareness levels.  We achieve this by setting up a ‘tow’ – eliciting focused responses from selected colleagues which we’ll use to clarify, define /refine, and assess our own viewpoints.

Here’s how it works.  Individuals are invited to join a ‘parent group’ with up to five others to create a ‘pod’.  Subsequently each member has the opportunity to form another pod of equal size, involving other persons, but perhaps with an alternative focus.

The process is a monthly (or semi-monthly) cycle where each pod member selects and posts the details of a current or emerging issue on a confidential Bulletin Board for the other five pod members to access and consider.   A simple format can be used to ensure clarity and brevity.

With the help of a ‘bridge link’ the pod then teleconferences so that each member can respond to questions and clarify his/her specific issue, taking approximately ten minutes per person/issue.   At the end of this brief discussion, each member offers one or more of the following:

  • An insightful question
  • A provocative suggestion / solution
  • A substantial networking contact.

For the first three sessions, such contributions would not be compulsory so that familiarity and confidence can build within the group.  Thereafter, this is the ‘price’ of membership.

On receipt of the input from other pod members, you’re on your own – free to fly wherever you want or are able within your competencies.  There’s no retroactive reporting or accounting – the focus is always forward, and of course, you have to land on your own.

The investment of time and effort is very small and the potential rewards are great.  Sometimes it will be a short flight, but on other occasions we’ll fly long, high and far from such a launch.   Without the tow, however, we likely will not even ‘get off the ground’.   You’ll never know how well you can fly until you leave the ground.  

Is it worth a try?