Implicit in any proclamation that technology will solve big problems (in the world or in our businesses) is that first a human being, or group of us, will conceive, organize, develop and then use technology to solve that big problem. When technologists and alpha-geeks leave this piece out we are leaving out what is so hard about solving problems. Human factors of visionary leadership and innovation are ground zero for solving big problems. So is a richer, more complex way of seeing the world. Missing this piece accounts for why Web 2.0 often fails inside the enterprise and why the highways aren’t filled with electric cars.
As Web meets World connecting the promise of technology to the innovative capacity of human beings is the transformative act of our times. Unlocking that creativity from current constraint-based, status quo thinking in business and politics is the challenge of the 21st century.
Filed under Change, Insight
This is a cross-post from Radar
While in NYC I interviewed Jashca Franklin-Hodge, CTO and Cofounder of Blue State Digital. This is a three part series that explores how technology affects our political process.
Blue State Digital was born out of Jascha’s experience helping Howard Dean’s seminal run for the White House in ’04. and is the technology and strategic services company powering Barack Obama (and many other Democratic leaders and social justice causes like Save Darfur and We Can Solve It).
Here is part three of the series…
Here are the key observations I took away from the discussion:
Online U.S. political communities will morph from a campaign fundraising role to a governing role. Regardless of whether Obama or McCain wins in November, every 2012 political campaign, even the laggards, will be as sophisticated as Obama is today- and any campaign with that much momentum won’t be able to stop community participation at the White House door or the Capitol steps (“thanks for all the money and support, I‘ll see you in four years”). Online communities will follow politicians into their governing roles. This summer when MyBarackObama experienced the FISA revolt within his own community this became clear. This has far more transformative potential than the fundraising juggernaut we are seeing now. Powerful communities may come to dominate the agenda of incumbent politicians providing feedback, direction and policy input. There is a whole book to be written on this topic alone. It also factors in for businesses currently running one-issue communities – Are you prepared to follow your community as it moves deeper into your organization?
Microcampaigns and Swarm Politics: Rather than one centrally governed behemoth, MyBO is enabling a thousand small campaigns to flourish. MyBO puts the tools into the hands of anyone that wants to get active; from having your own blog, downloading voter lists to make calls with “Neighbor to Neighbor” or having your own fundraising dashboard to mark your progress. This kind of swarm politics has generated enormous amounts of energy (and money) from ordinary citizens. Jascha sums it up best “We are helping them run thousands and thousands of little local campaigns that roll up to a central set of issues or candidate or goal” That is unbelievably powerful.
Technology (infrastructure and know-how) will become a necessary core competence in all U.S. political campaigns. Jascha points out that campaigns traditionally mirror movie productions, with all of the resources, technology and logistics brought together for a short burst of activity and then disappearing once the final scene is shot; this results in an enormous loss of knowledge and skills that need to be relearned once the next campaign begins. Campaigns that maintain or are able to tap into a continuity of software, infrastructure and human capital will have serious advantage. Blue State Digital was conceived to fill that gap on the Democratic side of the aisle…
Open Data and transparent government. Part Three of the video series digs into the value of open data in government to allow citizens to hack and remix at will. When lobbyist data, earmark data etc. is available in standard formats it will be a great leap forward for more transparency in government. Great stuff.
Filed under strategy, video
Here is one of the tools that I use to help mobilize energy and stay on a productive path during an engagement:
Divergent thinking describes a mindset where anything is possible, new ideas are welcome from all quarters, where issues and opportunities are freely discussed. It is the realm of strategy and planning.
Convergent thinking is strictly goal oriented, a mindset of managing scope, schedule and budget where strategy is realized. It is the realm of execution, of project management and risk evaluation.
I have watched many conversations in the executive office swing wildly from divergent possibility to convergent peril; from “imagine if we did X’ to “imagine if we lost Y.”
Here is the thing: these two mindsets are necessary for a healthy, functioning business but they do not coexist well in the same conversation. When creating new possibilities for your organization you need divergent thinking. When executing on a project you need convergent thinking. During any discussion, people in the room will gravitate to the dominant mindset of their formal role; the IT manager who decries the security risk of social networks (convergent) the rogue change agent (did I say Creative Director?) who wants to turn everything upside down (divergent), the CMO who is terrified of losing control of the message (convergent).
If you can consciously move everyone to the mindset appropriate to the moment you will be amazed at how much easier the conversations run. I am explicit. I start out a meeting with the goal and the stated mindset and ground rules. If we are divergent – I explain what I mean by divergent thinking and ask people to hold any discussion of risk, scope, schedule and budget until a set of possibilities has been gathered. Conversely at a certain point it is absolutely necessary to begin the hard discipline of closely subjecting exciting possibilities to critical questions.
And here is the interesting part; when you free people from their formal role in the organization you will be surprised how much enthusiasm they can bring, divergent or convergent, to the task at hand.
I stumbled on the Wachovia Twitter page. It is strange to read these little tweets from a sinking ship in real time.
On Sept. 18 we hear that all is well at Wachovia:
CEO Bob Steel posts on wachovia.com, reaffirms company is strong, stable, well capitalized, check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/3s7kg7
Then the rollercoaster begins… and you have to feel sorry for any shareholding Followers of Wachovia.
These near-real time blasts relate another fascinating aspect of Twitter that my friend Steve Nelson at Clear Ink blogged on. While it may prove to have historical reference value (as blogs and other internet content have) Twitter is a real-time news river and this makes it a far more effective tool for searching on current (I mean NOW) events. Here is Steve on that point;
On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that an economic stabilization bill had been written and was available at financialservices.house.gov. I tried going there for about 10 minutes, but the servers were swamped.
So I went to Twitter search, and merely searched for “bill”. The immediate results included several comments about the bill, and at least two links to download it from non-swamped servers. This tells me a couple things: I trusted in the critical mass of contributions to Twitter that I would find what I wanted – and sure enough, it was there. It also shows the power of searching the immediate NOW.
A Google search for “bill” includes a 5-hour old news link, imdb’s of movies like “Bill” and “Kill Bill” and wikipedia entries on Bill Gates and Bill Clinton. But for the moment I was searching for “bill” on Twitter, there was only one “bill” that mattered most.
This is how Twitter brings together the massive amounts of information being fed it NOW with what I am searching for NOW. This is just one way Twitter works, if you know how to use it
Filed under Change, Insight