power shift from hording to sharing

At the Canada 3.0 conference, I met a headhunter.

He asked me how social media helps him

My first thought was “you’re in the networking business, how can you not get how social media helps”? But fortunately, i paused long enough to ask another question of him. “Do you use linkedIn?”, I asked.

“Yes, sort of ” he says, “but I’m afraid that people will see my contacts and steel them”.

Oh – fear. Now that’s something that I can understand and relate to.

So I asked him if he could see other people’s contacts. What if its sharing and not stealing? I asked him if that could make him the “go to” guy and if he’d see that as a good thing.

I started my spiel about information sharing replacing information hording as the new source of status and pride.

And then he asked the key question. The KEY.

He said – “Once I empty my little cup of knowledge for someone, what value do I have left?”

He nailed it. The source of Social Media fear.

I did my best on the spur of the moment to answer his question with sensitivity and wisdom (not sure how good my best was, but I tried), so here’s what I said, and perhaps a bit of what I should have.

Information has some value.

Insight has more value.

Capability even more.

The  ability to reliably  find any of the above is perhaps most valuable. So a headhunter should be near the top of the food chain. But he did not see it that way.

So – how can someone like my smart, but worried friend move forward in this world? He’s got 2 key things he needs to do.

1. Become more familiar with Social Media in a non-threatening way. Take little steps that don’t feel high risk. I recommended some a while ago.

2. Start to think of himself in new ways. If he was useful when he horded information, he can be more useful, more influential when he starts giving it away. Just ask google. When people know that you’re the one with the info, they go back, they listen, you get an audience.

My new friend is worth much more than his rolodex.

More critically the point here, if I failed to make it yet, is that information isn’t the treasure, its how you got it and what you’ll do with it, and Fear is the only thing keeping you from discovering your post information, insight-economy value.


Why collaboration inside Govt can work

The government is not much different from any other large enterprise. It is so big, and so old, that sometimes things are done in ways that can appear silly. Anyone who’s ever worked for a company with more than a couple hundred people in it should be able to relate to this.

Processes and infrastructure get built to scale, then there’s a point at which they don’t scale anymore.

So there are a couple of resons that I think the government is ripe to adopt new collaboration tools on a massive scale.

1.  Collaboration is the new scaling mechanism.

There comes a point where being isolated and self-reliant, either as an individual or as an agency, just doesn’t work anymore. The government is facing big time challenges, and we’re all depending on it to make progress. And the people inside the government (I’ve met some, they’re awsome) for the most part are ready and willing to rise to the challenge. That means they know they need to change, and will adopt what appears to work. There’s a growing field of evidence that collaboration works.

2. Collaboration is infectious.

When good collaboration software catches on, is spreads like wildfire. ASpace – the intelligence community’s facebook like community tool was originally launched to 100 users. By invite and request alone, it has grown, in five months, to over 6400 users – that’s about 64% penetration. Nobody insists that they use it.

NASA’s pilot program in collaboration was a resounding success, with 82% saying it made communications easier and more efficient. So they’re rolling out more of it.

DoD is looking to launch a similar project.

So – my bet. Collaboration will be widely adopted inside government because its necessary, and participants get immediate direct benefits from it, including finding information and expertise, having theirs recognized.

Only 2 things stand in the way. Fear and bad technology. The bad technology should be on its way out – there are enough good ( and by good, I mean usable, well-designed) products out there and on the way (ask me about BlueField going into beta shortly) that people won’t stand for garbage anymore.

Fear is a bigger issue. But as collaboration is shown to improve results, and thereby status, i have great hopes that as people LEARN the cultural ins and outs of real collaboration, this barrier too shall fall.

of , by and for the people again.