The Future of Collaboration with Don Tapscott

I joined a webinar this morning, curious about the topic and what else Don Tapscott would say.  Twitter was communicated as the visible backchannel, so a few tweets in I commented “You don’t hear the word ‘oligopoly’ very often.”  Don communicates in a visual, psychological, visceral, and very unique way.

His bio goes something like this:

Don Tapscott is one of the world’s leading authorities on business strategy and was recently named one of the 50 most influential living management thinkers in the world by Thinkers50. As Chairman of nGenera Insight, Don also leads research and education programs.  Tapscott is the author of 13 widely-read books about information technology in business and society, including 2007’s bestselling business book in the US, Wikinomics (co-authored with Anthony Williams), as well as Paradigm Shift, The Digital Economy, and The Naked Corporation. His most recent book, Grown Up Digital, is a sequel to his 1997 bestseller Growing Up Digital. Coming in September 2010, Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World.

He’s kind of a big deal.

Not only that, but he thinks and articulates that thinking in a way I would love to imitate; drawing the audience into a one-way conversation, stimulating their imagination, and turning it into conversation and collective intelligence.

Tapscott began by taking us through a multitude of visuals of murmuration of starlings.  This phenomenon is magical, but methodical.  The starlings never bump into each other, but a tiny change for one results in a huge change for the social mass.  They do this for survival, for safety, and to share collective intelligence.  Tapscott used this to punctuate the point that we are in the early days of some profound changes in the way that organizations work.  Neural nodes of human connection are all around us and we are re-wired, with the quality of connections becoming more important than ever.  My thought:  the enterprise systems we use to work aren’t designed for our rewired brains.

He shared the 5 Principles for Innovation, Wealth, and Sustainability:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Openness
  3. Sharing
  4. Interdependence
  5. Integrity

The enterprise must look at intellectual property in a different way:  some IP needs to be protected and some IP needs to be shared.  The industrial economy is losing gas fast, and the internet economy is gaining strength.  What was mass production is now mass collaboration.

Hybrid thought:  Part of the solution for enterprises is how to figure out how to connect with self-organizing communities and how to enable self-organizing communities within the firewall.

We’re at a turning point in our history, where our institutions are fundamentally rebooting.  This includes financial systems, government, universities, newspapers, media & entertainment, healthcare, science, energy, etc.  Wait for the replay to be posted to see how far he gets into 20th century institutionalized models vs. 21st century networks.  

Don paused, then stated an idea that I very much agree with:  we need business platforms based on people, not documents, or sites, and etc.  People are at the core of a new business operating system, where a new generation of knowledge management exists that isn’t containerized.  It’s infinite:

  1. Personal Profiles
  2. Industrial Strength Social Networking
  3. Blogging and Microblogging
  4. Wikis and Document Co-creation
  5. Ideastorms
  6. Team Project Tools
  7. Deliberation-Decision Making
  8. New Generation Knowledge Management
  9. IT Integration and Administration

Of course, he proclaimed a Crisis of Leadership:

Paradigm shifts involve dislocation, conflict, confusion, uncertainty.  New paradigms are nearly always received with coolness, even mockery or hostility.  Those with vested interests fight the change.  The shift demands such a different view of things that established leaders are often last to be won over, if not at all.

This is not new.  And, it’s a bit outdated at HP, where I’m surrounded by a bunch of people who want to lead in this area.  But, his question was:  “What is your role going to be?”  I answered in the Twitter backchannel that mine was to “integrate, redesign, retrofit, and come out with something collaborative and successful on the other side.”  There are few enterprises that exist today that can take a green field approach to collaboration.  Tell me how to solve that problem…


Author: Ynema Mangum

Ynema Mangum is an experienced, data-driven principal product manager of mission-critical composable infrastructure at HP Enterprise. Constantly curious, her passions draw her to emerging technologies. She joined HP 6 years ago as a solutions architect for private IT cloud computing. She then served as owner of the enterprise social collaboration domain at HP, responsible for its future direction. Prior to her current position, she was a senior product manager for the massive HP ConvergedSystem 900 for SAP HANA. At SUN, she was a product line manager for cloud computing, responsible for the requirements for common subsystems of the Sun Cloud, as well as user personas, industry analysis, and competitive research. Her product experience also includes building web based database management systems at BMC Software targeted at Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, DB2 and DB2 UDB. Y provides an invaluable hybrid mix of strategist, architect, product manager and product marketer with an unbendable passion for the user experience. Her entrepreneurial experience allows her to understand business as a whole and drives her to make decisions and execute quickly. As an added bonus, she is certified in ITIL v3 best practices for IT and Pragmatic Product Management. Ynema is a change agent. She considers herself a determined influencer and a connector whose collaborative nature ensures success in introducing new concepts and services into the mainstream -- even in the most complex environments. She thrives on doing what seems to be impossible, and enjoys taking calculated risks in her personal life -- snowboarding, skiing, SCUBA diving or wake boarding when the season is right.

4 thoughts on “The Future of Collaboration with Don Tapscott”

  1. Very nice summary of the talk on Collaboration from Don Tapscott. Thanks for this.

    Although the industry is beginning to agree that collaboration is going to revolutionize (reboot) the world, there is very little about how we are going to solve this problem. Its not about Facebook (thats a great solution for social networking). Its not about SharePoint (thats a great solution for document centric collaboration). In fact, I believe its not about technology, its about a change in our culture.

    Managing the change in the culture of our corporations is going to take a new kind of leader, one that is not bound to the command and control structures of yester-year, and one that embraces the creativity and energy of the GenY’s.

    Can technology help. I am sure it will with the emerging market solutions with CDM solutions, but this is early days. At PURUS, we are looking to provide such a solution. Your thoughts would be most interesting.

    CDM needs to provide 5 things:
    – A space in which we gather to collaborate
    – People – ensuring we get the right people involved
    – Convergent collaboration – that ensures we drive toward a decision
    – Evidence – ensuring we get all the right information and insights
    – Decision Assets – to capture the decision made and leverage those in future decisions.

    But managing the cultural changes in an organization is the biggest challenge. For that, you need
    – a strong leader
    – identify the change agents in your organization (likely GenY’ers)
    – start in small pilot groups and expand virally.

    Its hard, but very rewarding

  2. So, I think links / integration to enterprise apps is something that is forgotten. We need to combine “social” with “computing” or work. How do we bring social into the workplace? Through ideas, collaboration, decision-making, personal spaces…yes. But, we need those spaces to be integrated with corporate data / intelligence. That is in our CRM, ERP, knowledge and content repositories, and content management systems. But, it’s also in our email and on our desktop.
    Also, I think assuming GenYers are the change agents in your organization is an outdated notion. Facebook and Twitter are just two good examples of platforms that have managed to mesh demographics in a very meaningful way.

  3. Agreed on the data. We call that “Evidence”, which includes
    – structured data from CRM, ERP, warehouses, Business Intelligence, etc
    – unstructured data from documents, emails, blogs, web links etc
    – insights (ideas) that come from people aggregating structured and unstructured data and coming up with something new
    – collaboration – conversations between people
    – precedents – previous decisions and projects that are related to this one

    We need to bring it all together…. And thats hard. We have legacy systems that do bits here and there.

    GenYers have used Facebook and Twitter in meaningful ways. But my focus is on the value to business, not value to the individual. BOTH are good – in different ways. I am interested in how we can use collaboration to help drive business value – and in my mind that is a “business decision that leads to action”.

    Where facebook, twitter, Salesforce chatter, Google Wave (RIP), etc, all provide chronological chatter, they dont encourage “convergence” to a decision. The Centre for Collaborative Intelligence at MIT started to address this problem in their research on a Collaboratorium, where a business question is broken down into issues, then ideas to resolve the issues, and finally arguments for and against the ideas. This structured approach is quite different than the unstructured Facebook, and required in business.

    In my clients that have sought to address their culture of collaboration, it nearly always involves the 25-35 change leaders (high potentials). Perhaps just a coincidence.

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