RTVC Workshop and New Post on WebTastings

We just finished the Realtime Virtual Collaboration Workshop. It was a great experience and though it initially seemed very chaotic, turned into some fruitful conversation. Kudos to the participants for self-organizing so well. We will definitely share summaries and lessons learned.

On a related note, I just posted a new post to WebTastings about the lessons we learned from social reporting of a Conference on Rights and Climate Change.

Realtime virtual collaboration for change

I recently joined a group of change facilitators and social media enthusiasts in organizing an online conference on the question What tools and principles do we need to help change to unfold? Social and technological development as means for better organizations, and a better world:

The development of the World Wide Web as a tool for global connectivity has given rise to a participatory culture, opening new possibilities for communication and collaboration to effect and facilitate change.

There are plenty of examples that show the ease with which people actually link up with each other and coordinate complex projects as well as social and political change, including the wikipedia, coordination of aid efforts after natural disasters such as fires, and earthquakes through twitter or tools such as ushahidi, but also recent events such as the “Moldava Twitter Revolution”.

These tools, also called social media, are complementing an already existing large toolbox of methods for facilitation of whole systems change such as Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, Theory U, just to name a few. All these tools are means to an end, which is to change organizations, societies, or communities.

The conference will discuss how the different tools available can be used to foster collaboration that goes beyond mere sharing of information to create action. How can we combine social media tools with real time facilitation to address the essential questions and challenges arising in organizational and social change? Which tools support which kind of collaboration needs? What are the underlying principles that need to be observed to ensure that collaboration effects change?

Go to the Change Management Toolbook to register and to find out how to participate. Another way to get news and follow the conference is to tune into twitter hashtag #rtvc.

Overcoming ‘territorial’ management

The Economist published a review of a forthcoming book by Morten Hansen on collaboration, which talks about the pitfalls and challenges of creating cross-unit collaboration in an organization. This is espacially true when the organization is sectorized and different parts feel themselves in competition to each other, when it has a lot of – what Hansen calls – territorial managers.

Another voice that emphasizes that for any mainstreaming initiative, in this case mainstreaming of a collaborative culture, you not only need a critical mass of people that work differently, but also signs and incentives (and in some cases pushing) from the top to show that working differently is wanted by the organization’s leadership.

Can mining be sustainable?

Via IISD’s SD-list, I just came a cross a very interesting book about a sustainability project by Alcoa. Given the reputation of the mining industry with regards to environmental stewardship, respect for local communities and transparency, the claim to develop a sustainable local development process raises suspicion. From a quick read through the report, it looks like this project does take a new approach with regards to the social integration and transparency:

There is the license issued by the proper authorities, and this is very important. But just as important, or perhaps even more so, is the license to operate that is granted by the local community, because this is where you’ll be living each day. (…) The operation is fundamentally integrated into community and at any time,  if the community does not grant us its license to operate, it can halt production, whether on the railroad, at the port or in the mine itself.

It is great to see that a mining operation has sought to build a very inclusive and long-term partnership including the local community, civil society, government and researchers. The following are a few questions that came to mind reading the report. The process seems to still be ongoing and parts of the model are not yet implemented, but it promises to be a great experiment that might be able to serve as a model for other companies to do business differently.

Continue reading

Collaboration leads to Life2.0?

Research under the framework of the EMUDE project suggests that services created through sharing and local collaboration can reduce the individual’s impact on the environment.

What is a sustainable lifestyle? What will our daily lives become if we agree to change some of our routines? How do we reduce our environmental impact without lowering our living standards? Observations show that growing material wealth and levels of people satisfaction are increasingly uncoupled. Could the pursuit of more sustainable lifestyles also lead to better quality and more satisfaction?

via Sustainable Everyday Project » Collaborative Services; discovered via People and Place and World Changing.

Download the report here.

Principles of a Sustainable Business

How to be a Truly Sustainable Business : Ecopreneurist.

The principles for a sustainable business I get from this post are: (1) use the resources you have efficiently and do not overuse them (time, money, natural resources, employees); (2) diversify economic activities (core biz and related) to be less dependent on one activity or market; and (3) share business with others that are working in the same niche to build up a network you can fall back on in times of crises and to not overuse your resources.

Sustainable = resilient?

Are these the essential elements of a sustainable system of the future: diversity, transparency and decentralized collaboration? Great thinking piece by Jamais Cascio:

Resilient flexibility means avoiding situations where components of a 
system are “too big to fail”–that is, where the failure of a single 
part can bring the whole thing crashing down. The alternative comes 
from the combination of diversity (lots of different parts), 
collaboration (able to work together), and decentralization (organized 
from the bottom-up). The result is a system that can more effectively 
respond to rapid changes in conditions, and including the unexpected 
loss of components.

via Resilience in the Face of Crisis: Why the Future will be Flexible | Open The Future | Fast Company.

Incidentally, these basic principles are the same that need to be established for web 2.0 tools to boost collaboration and creativity. Judging from the resistance these changes provoke in organizations, it is only fair to agree with Jamais that many more crises will come until these principles are mainstream.

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Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media: A Networked Approach to Social Media: Strategy and Learning Are Key

The following advice from Iavor Ivanov can be applied to any networking attempt:

Finally, Iavor offered some advice for those looking to roll out a networked approach to social media strategy:

  • Understand where your community is and what they are ready to learn or do and start there
  • Understand what they are doing in the social space and their comfort level
  • Facilitate the content creation, you can’t control it, but make sure you have a solid overarching strategy
  • Guidelines or best practices that are flexible are important

via Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media: A Networked Approach to Social Media: Strategy and Learning Are Key.

On the Distinction Between Sustainable Systems and Green Tips | Max Gladwell

Sustainability is about new systems. New energy systems. New agricultural systems. New transportation systems and new information systems. That’s where social media plays a big role. Sustainability is also about decentralization. We need to decentralize energy and food production. Each of us can become energy producers through solar, wind, and efficiency technologies…in the same way we’ve become information producers through blogs, wikis, and online video.

via On the Distinction Between Sustainable Systems and Green Tips | Max Gladwell.