Why Collaborate?

Why Collaborate?

The number one rule I was told when I first started working (21 year ago – which is amazing as I am 21) was “don’t tell anyone anything about how we do what we do.” This rule was enforced by every biotechnology and aquaculture company I have worked for. The principle – what we are doing is unique, secret and if we share then others will know how to do it.

I have always struggled with this philosophy for many reasons including:

  1. There is a big difference in knowing information and transferring the knowledge into doing the skill
  2. I have always realised that more people I exchange my thoughts and ideas with the greater my knowledge gain (limiting collaboration limits innovation and knowledge gain)

The trouble is most of the organisations we work for still have this guarded philosophy. I think we should get all our managers to read “Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” If you have not checked out this book or “The World is Flat” take the time to do so. Both are excellent and important books for anyone into Web 2.0 to read.

I think that statement by A.G. Lafley (CEO, Proctor and Gamble) on the front cover of Wikinomics says it all

“No company today, no matter how large or how global, can innovate fast enough or big enough itself…..Wikinomics reveals the next historic step – the art and science of mass collaboration where companies open up to the world”

Unfortunately reality is this change in people’s beliefs will take time – realising that mass collaboration increases knowledge gain and helps both individuals and organisations won’t happen overnight.

Marc Prensky believes that key literacy for the 21st Century is computer programming. I actually think Vicki Davis, Julie Lindsay and the groups of teachers they collaborates with have the key – teaching our kids the values and skills to effectively mass collaborate (check out the Horizon project to learn more about their work).

I would really love my kids to be involved in projects like the Horizon project in their schools however the challenge is the teachers need to learn the skills to do so and appreciate the importance of it. Maybe Darren this could be your 6th Reason Why Teachers Should Blog – to appreciate the value of mass collaboration (similar but slightly different from Reason #3 – Blogging allows you to communicate with other teachers which, in turn, allows you to learn from each other as the emphasis is on appreciating the need to teach our kids mass collaboration skills that will aid their future employment).

Final warning to companies

  1. Mass collaboration is important for innovation
  2. Mass collaborations leads to online communities.
  3. Online communities not only exchange their ideas to innovate they share their feelings. Where once, as a consumer we would praise the good or bad about a product/service to our immediate friends and family – we now have a global community of friends. You are now dealing with customers who are part of the global community and who will express their feelings. If your product/service has let a customer down as badly as T-Mobile; it is time to make important changes.

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