Month: June 2010

G20, Social Media, Solving Hard Problems

This year the G20 did something different. Several weeks in advance of the G8 and G20 meetings in Toronto, they began to use a social collaboration tool to prepare for the event. The way the project was conceived is interesting, and the outcomes and implications are even more so.

First, let me say I currently work for open text, the provider of the tres cool software they used (its not your papa’s enterprise software). That said, my interest here is really more academic than commercial ( i guess that’s why they keep me around).

The G20 is a meeting of the senior  finance ministers from the top 20 economies. The G20 Summit is a meeting of the heads of state of those economies which was first held in a response to the 2007 economic crisis.

To support last weekend’s meeting, Open Text put up 3 hosted instances of Open Text Social Workplace – a shared, social workspace designed to support team and organizational effectiveness.

The first instance was highly secure and restricted to use by the key delegates and sherpas to share information and collaborate. The second was  for the media, librarians, academics and other interested parties to do the same, and a third that used some cool 3D experience widget technology to publish and navigate video published by the various attendants.

BTW – the official press release is here.

So what? Well, if the system works at all (and the early anecdotes are very, very positive), the shared, social workplace will have improved preparations and enabled extended, persistent collaboration amongst the principals between meetings, so that their understanding, work and resources can evolve and compound naturally between meetings as well as at the specific meeting times. It supports and amplifies continuity of the proceedings and working groups beyond the annual meetings..

Next it has extended the number of media, academics, librarians and other parties who can participate – regardless of whether they were accredited to attend the conference –  and track what is going on  – connecting the dots amongst and between a large, diverse group of interested minds.

All that is good of course. What’s really interesting, however, is the chance to see whether the G20 can and will use this shared workspace to create and sustain a common operating picture of economic issues amongst the delegates and their sherpas, and whether that will help them make better progress in understanding and addressing global economic problems – a wicked problem indeed.

I’m on a mission to collect as many anecdotes and outcomes from this experiment as possible, to see if this works and we can really use social media to begin to unravel heinously complex global issues. stay tuned. As I said – early reports are positive, with lots of reports of questions to the effect of “we get to keep this going, right?”. I’ll do my best to report back on what we learn about supporting highly diverse globally distributed teams and organizations.

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