Links to Popular Capital & Tools

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Collaboration & Health from the Dalai Lama

Posted on by Brandon Klein

by Serjao
Q: “What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”
A: Dalai Lama. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.
Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present, and as a result he does not live in the present or the future.
He lives as if he’s never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.
The real question is how are they all working together. How is the system, the current system going to stem or try to flat out stop their collaboration. How are the big boys already playing (including have already bought several listed below)? Key to their success will be secure data collaboration. Few have it. Fewer collaborate with it! 
Then the real question is, what are you going to do to collaborate with you family and colleagues for your health? 
Original sources at the bottom:

1. stickk

With its roots beginning at Yale University, stickK co-founder Dean Karlan noticed a need for accountability when it came to personal health. Karlan himself fell victim to the habit of setting weight-loss goals and never seeing them through. After entering into a financial contract with a friend to lose 38 pounds each, Karlan realized the true power of accountability. With major money on the line and an added no negotiation clause, both men found themselves 38 pounds lighter at the end of their trial. Inspired by his success, Karlan wanted to share his newfound Commitment Contracts with the world.


2. ZocDoc

In 2007, ZocDoc was created to provide the citizens of New York with a way to make dentist appointments online. Four years later, it has evolved into a Web site that now serves 12 major cities in the U.S and over 60 fields of expertise. ZocDoc allows users to search by medical specialty, along with your insurance provider and zip code. With one click, all of the doctors in the selected field in your area and insurance network are visiblealong with their available appointments. By clicking on an appointment time, you can actually book the appointment on the spot.

ZocDoc continues to be at the forefront of this technologyeven adding an app for your phone. They also produce a blog that offers information on everything from different medical conditions to healthy lifestyle practices.

3. Cake Health

If you ask the average person to explain a hospital bill or insurance plan in depth, the answer youll often receive is a blank stare. Medical bills and insurance paperwork are the bane of most patients existence. Thats exactly what Rebecca Woodcock, co-founder of Cake Health, grew tired of after watching a friend find herself in financial and unnecessary trouble due to a medical condition.

Cake Health offers users a way to track, organize and understand their medical bills and insurance policies. Once you enter your health care information into your personal and secure account, you are able to see exactly where your money is going and even track your deductibles and claims history. Cake Health also offers users alerts and reminders for things like possible overcharges, reaching your deductible and prescription refills.

4. One Medical Group

One Medical Group believes in more quality time with your doctor and less time in the waiting room. Founded by Dr. Tom X. Lee, One Medical caters to an atmosphere of hospitality. Much like with a concierge doctor, patients are given the time and care not often seen in todays medical offices.

With locations in San Francisco, D.C. and New York, One Medical is changing the way patients interact with their doctors. The practitioners see, at a maximum, 16 patients per dayabout 9 less than the average doctor. This allows patients more quality time with their doctors. Patients can also log in to their personal account to book same-day appointments, view medical records and even refill prescriptionssaving an extra trip to the doctor. One Medical also allows patients to email their doctor directly with questions and even treatment updates.

5. RedBrick Health

A health technology and services company, RedBrick Health is leading the health care industry to Consumer-Owned health. This concept allows employers to promote wellness in their company, as they guide their employees to take ownership of their personal health.

RedBrick offers personal wellness programssuch as biometric health screeningsto employers looking to decrease their insurance costs. These programs reward healthy behavior in employees while also promoting long-term healthy lifestyle choices. They believe healthier employees increase productivity in the workplace. RedBrick stands by their mission to help people live the fullest and healthiest lives they can possibly live.


6. Avado

With products for both the provider and patient sectors, Avado is changing the way doctors run their practicesmaking visits easier on their patients. Their Patient Relationship Management (PRM) system offers a way to effectively engage in a partnership with their patients. The PRM allows doctors to send patients reminders to take their vitals, perform their physical therapy and even reminders to take their medicine.

Avado allows patients to have a true relationship with their physicians, and at the same time, feel like they have a voice with their personal health care. Avados PRM system is a great way for patients to record and track their health history by uploading their vital statistics. This tool is not only helpful to individuals, but to families in need of organization when it comes to their medical needs.

7. Bloom Health

With a vested interest in both employers and their employees, Bloom Health is changing the way you can choose health insurance. Bloom Health offers employers a way to give their employees options when it comes to health care.

How does it work? Employers offer a defined amount of money toward each employee, and through Bloom Healths personality report, individuals can choose which plan suits them best. After taking a quiz, employees are given the best insurance plans based on their individualized results. Next, they can compare and contrast plans against what they currently have. Should the employee choose a different plan, Bloom Health takes care of the application process with one click.

8. Sharecare

Realizing the educational power of the Internet, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Jeff Arnold created Sharecarean interactive Q&A platform to provide quality health care information to the public. Sharecare gives people clear and concise information about their health, all in one place.

Renowned doctors, expert researchers and leading medical professionals come together to offer the most current treatment options, wellness advice, nutrition information and much more. Commercial brands answer questions about their products, so users can make an informed decision about their well-being.

Sharecare established an Advisory Board, hosting the finest medical professionals in the industry. They represent the different areas of medical expertise and are committed to consumer health education. Sharecare also has an A-Z reference library for many medical topics. Simply type in a question and get instant answers from top medical professionals around the world.

  1. COMS InteractiveCOMS Interactive, LLC: This company has developed a Software as a Service (SaaS) disease management system that improves the quality of care that residents receive in long-term care facilities, while driving increased occupancy and revenue.
  2. CoverMyMedsCoverMyMeds helps physicians and pharmacists complete Prior Authorization and other insurance coverage determination forms for any drug and for most drug health plans. Patient authorization is required to use the site.
  3. DOMA TechnologiesDOMA Technologies: This is a privately owned Virginia Limited Liability Corporation founded in 2000, which provides Software as a Service (SaaS) document management applications and services aimed across multiple vertical markets. DOMA is involved in helping hospitals, physician practices and other health care providers turn paper records into digital files for easy access, routing and retrieval.
  4. ExplorysExplorys: This company enables leading healthcare and life sciences organizations to expand research within their ranks by providing a powerful, accessible, and intuitive platform to collaborate, search, and tag meaningful correlations between treatments and outcomes within patient populations.
  5. Glide HealthGlide Health: This company produces a complete mobile desktop for patients, doctors and other healthcare professionals. They are automatically synched with doctor’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) platforms and makes possible compatible and secure exchange of patient records among different systems.
  6. Human ArcHuman Arc: The focus of this company is on reimbursement recovery for healthcare providers, revenue enhancements for health plans, and health care coverage cost savings for employers.
  7. Lexi-CompLexi-Comp: Since 1978, Lexi-Comp has evolved its content base and technology solutions to provide clinically relevant, real-time information at the point-of-care in knowledge areas that include pharmacology, interactions, diagnostic procedures and laboratory tests, pharmacogenomics, poisoning and toxicology, dentistry, infectious diseases, and patient education.
  8. MDG MedicalMDG Medical: MDG has developed the ServeRx automated medication management system for reducing medication errors, enhancing nursing and pharmacy productivity, and lowering health care costs.
  9. NextBioNextBio: This company provides a platform that enables life science researchers to search, discover, and share knowledge locked within public and proprietary data. In effect, this product allows senior R&D management to increase research productivity, while decreasing research costs, by better utilizing publicly available experimental data and unlocking the value of past, current, and future internally-generated data.
  10. StreamlineMDStreamlineMD: StreamlineMD delivers an affordable, reliable Electronic Medical Records (EMR) solution to small and midsized physician practices. This is the first EMR solution to combine software, local training and support, and remote hosting into a subscription-based service. StreamlineMD is the highest-rated EMR system in the marketplace for small practices, according to the leading industry consultant, AC Group.
  11. TalystTalyst: This company produces a software platform that integrates pharmacy barcoding, storage, inventory, ordering and clinical systems. They are dedicated to improving patient safety and operational efficiency in acute care hospitals and in long-term care, as well as in closed-door, correctional, and retail pharmacies.

Communication and Imaging Technology

  1. Covia LabsCovia Labs: After acquiring its core technology from DARTdevices, Covia developed solutions for the Alert & Respond and Command & Control markets and added a Push-to-Talk application, so that first responders and military personnel can improve operational capabilities and save lives.
  2. Interventional ImagingInterventional Imaging: This company’s disposable catheters can generate high-resolution, cross-sectional images of the arteries. This new proprietary technology includes micro-coils that can be inserted directly into a vessel to communicate with the MR system, representing a novel approach to MR imaging from within the body.
  3. NextSlide ImagingNextSlide Imaging: NextSlide has developed a digital imaging tool set for laboratory hematology that enables users to review smears via a full-resolution digital image rather than traditional microscopy. Not yet approved by the FDA for clinical use.
  4. nVisonViso: Although this tool was created for marketing purposes, the vision of how to use it in the medical information field could be limitless. The product is a Web-enabled software that subjectively measures emotions through facial expressions, along with the ability to adapt to cultural differences.
  5. VHoldrTwenty20: This company produces ContourHD, the world’s first and smallest wearable video camera. While the Web site focuses on sports, this type of information technology seems ideal for the medical field, especially surgical procedures.
  6. VasoLuxVasoLux: VasoLux’s technology provides a real-time histological assessment of the tissue without the need to take a biopsy. Additionally, VasoLux’s technology is designed to be used intra-operatively — a feature not possible with competing molecular imaging technologies such as MRI, SPECT, and PET.
  7. ViewRayViewRay: ViewRay, Inc., a privately held medical device company, has earned a 2010 NorTech Innovation Award for its advancements in radiation therapy technology for the treatment of cancer. ViewRay was honored for its unique combination of medical imaging and radiotherapy, which is designed to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
  8. VSeeVSee: When you find a product that has been field-hardened to work well over wireless tactical networks in the Mideast and Africa, you might be interested in its use in a medical environment. VSee is designed for ad-hoc informal remote work — the constant micro collaborations that get things done.
  9. Zin MedicalZin Medical: This company has partnered vMetrics with NASA and the Cleveland Clinic, providing a fully configurable, multi-parameter wireless biometric monitoring platform technology. The modular distributed architecture allows vMetrics to be used across any commercially available wireless network including WiFi, cell phone and wireless medical telemetry systems.

Patient Care

  1. eMedical LendingeMedical Lending: This is a new method of financing that connects patients with a network of lenders through eMedical’s relationships with medical practices and their proprietary direct to consumer web-based application. While this business is listed under patient help, eMedical also works with health care providers.
  2. GlobeFunderGlobefunder Ventures Inc.: This private revenue cycle solutions and tech company offers a web-based platform, IOU SOS, that helps patients find a way to save money on medical bills. It works much line Priceline or eBay, by helping providers speed small balance collections and by providing clients with motivation to pay.
  3. Healthy HumansHealthy Humans: Healthy Humans helps people with chronic illnesses by focusing on the underlying causes of illness based on real research and real results. Patients receive medical plans, and the patient can track his her or improvements through an integrative approach to treatment. Healthy Humans received the 2009 Life Sciences Startup Company of the Year award from the Eastern Technology Council.
  4. KEASKEAS: Keas Care Plans are designed to help shed some light on a specific health and wellness issues, but the information comes in all shapes and sizes. By working with medical professionals and other health experts, KEAS adds new plans all the time to help people cope with a variety of health issues.
  5. Treatment OnlineTreatment Online: This service uses the familiarity and anonymity of the Internet to provide programs for people who are stigmatized about seeking help for behavioral problems. It combines a rich choice of self-help resources with psychological support, evaluation, and information within a safe and secure environment.


Without further ado, here they are:

Agile Diagnosis is creating a web and mobile platform that provides clinicians with evidence and expert-consensus based, best practices in the form of highly actionable clinical algorithms. The startup wants to make it easier and quicker for clinicians to give their patients the best possible care.

Avva is the first, online patient-focused breast cancer management tool that allows patients to comprehensively organize, manage, and communicate important information throughout the breast cancer experience.

Cardiio empowers ordinary people with simple yet powerful tools to experiment, gain insight and take charge of their health and wellbeing.

Care at Hand is a mobile-based electronic health records and workflow automation software for home health care agencies. It also allows for new participation by family members via an online portal. With increased efficiency, agencies will be able to retain and attract new customers at a higher rate.

ChickRx is a healthy living community and marketplace for young women. Young women are preoccupied with health and wellness (diet, weight, birth control, STDs, mental health, skin, etc.), but existing health sites are clinical, target everyone or target moms.

Cognitive Health Innovations provides an online environment to help people address mental health issues and achieve personal growth goals using scientifically validated psychotherapeutic techniques and structured social interactions.

Docphin is the Bloomberg for Doctors. Docphin is a platform that personalizes medical news and research. In an environment that includes over a thousand medical journals with content that is increasingly complex and fragmented, physicians have grown tired of searching for relevant news. Docphin was created to address the “find” problem which has challenged physicians for decades. Docphin’s platform enables users to easily personalize the news and research that matters most to them and their patients.

Epi.MD is creating a dynamic, social population management tool that’s designed to help medical providers manage their patient population, disseminate information about new health care trends, and take immediate action to improve the health of their patients.

GetMyCare is a home health care marketplace that helps families find high quality caregivers at the lowest cost. Caregivers on our network range from non medical home care aides to physical therapist to licenced registered nurses.

HealthRally is a crowdfunding platform that lets friends and family motivate one another to achieve health goals with money and rewards. Think KickStarter for personal health motivation. (Read our coverage of HealthRally’s seed raise from Esther Dyson and more here.)

Helpful Systems is building an analytics system to predict and identify patients who are most at-risk for developing a hospital-acquired infection based on patient demographics and behavior patterns, hospital staff behavior patterns, and hospital logistics.

Nephosity shares medical images on the iPad. Doctors have access to a patient’s medical images anywhere, anytime, and can collaborate with their colleagues.

Sano is developing a powerful mobile health monitoring product that will reveal new insights about stage zero care.

Senstore is a spin-out from Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program 2011. We are developing open innovation tools and a community of developers and entrepreneurs to catalyze innovation around sensor devices and applications. Our long term vision is to crowdsource the development of a medical tricorder which will enable low cost medical diagnosis to be performed by anyone, from anywhere.


Sessions aims to unlock social exercise by allowing people to share and discover exercise sessions around them. Think Meetup meets Foursquare for exercise. 


Also GigaOm has a great article about health startups. 

Truncated lists provided above for convenience. For full articles, see company websites or:


800+ Collaboration Sites Bookmark'ed

Posted on by Brandon Klein

A small achievement in relative terms, but still an incredibly valuable resource for the best collaboration related sites from around the web. 

Check them out. From Collaboration software to collaborative ways to stay healthy to collaborating crowdsourcers and designers. It is all here:



Simple Coffee Collaboration & Meetings

Posted on by Brandon Klein

We rarely talk about the chemical side of collaboration, but it is probably one of the most important factors for your collaboration success. Here are two relatively recent examples that need to be shared. 

1. Coffee CSA - This is one of the best examples of collaboration. Not only because of the way it connects businesses and consumers, but because it is arguably one of the most effective ways of collaboratively combating poverty. Spending $20 a month on coffee buying direct from an Ethiopian farmer is probably (can anyone prove this? Cash reward offered!) more effective that $2,000 cash to any charity claiming to do good work in the same geographic region.

+ One farmer's fair trade sustained income can keep a family of 10 out of food assistance for life

-  The average charity project is 3 years

+ An employed farmer can buy books and uniforms to send his/her kids to school for life

- The average charity projects is just 3 years

+ The average farmer needs to transport his product and therefore supports roads and commerce

- The average charity has their own SUV's for foreigners to visit


The coffee CSA literally lets you choose which farmer you want to buy your beans from. They are then delivered every month to satisfy your caffeinated persuasion. This particular CSA just made it big time in the NY Times


2. There have been some pretty substantial reports/studies into the effectiveness of coffee. Here is an inforgraphic well worth looking at.  This is a chart from the Canadian Department of National Defense that depicts the effectiveness of the little bean on soldiers in action. Pretty amazing! 

The effects of 200 mg of caffeine versus either a placebo or a non treatment control condition on target detection response time over 3 hours of a simulated sentry duty task. From Johnson and Merullo, 2000.

And down-under, they have taken this bean to the heart of corporate culture- meetings:
That study, titled “Caffeine, Cognition, and Persuasion: Evidence for Caffeine Increasing the Systematic Processing of Persuasive Messages” found that coffee increases mental alertness, focus and concentration. This heightening of mental capacity allows people to open up, process and understand the ideas being discussed during a coffee meeting. (Study by researcher Pearl Martin of the University of Queensland in Australia) 
Instead of reading the report however, I would recommend heading over to Lifehacker and read their in depth report that is easy to understand what caffeine actually does to you and your meetings! 





Low Tech Social Network: Gamestorming for Collaboration

Posted on by Gaurav Mishra

At a recent NEN E-Leader Workshop for leaders of Entrepreneurship Cells on college campuses, I used a version of theLow-Tech Real-Life Social Networking Gamefrom the excellent new book ‘GameStorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers‘ by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo.

The objective of the game was to explain how online social networks can help entrepreneurs form new connections by discovering and becoming more discoverable to potential collaborators who share their passions.

Here’s how I organized the game:

Step 1. I divided the 5o odd participants into two groups and gave each group a white board.

Step 2: I asked each participant to write their name and three things they are passionate about on a post-it note and put it up on their group’s white board in a random order.

Step 3: Then, I then asked each participant to compare their “passion-tags” with the tags for their group members and draw a line if the tags match, without moving the post-it notes.

Step 4: Finally, I asked the participants to look at the network of post-it notes and lines on the white boards and share their observations on what they learned from the game.

The participants learned several important insights about online social networks from the game –

1. Each one of us is connected to everyone else, only by a few degrees of separation. In the small groups, the maximum degree of separation was three, but even in large social networks, the maximum degree of separation is believed to be six.

2. Some people are more connected than others, because they have broad passions that are shared by many others, or because they spent more time making connections with others with similar passions. For instance, the person who had the highest number of connections in one group has spent time to read through the passion-tags of each person in the group.

3. When people declare their passions publicly, they discover and become discoverable to others who share their passions. Otherwise, they miss out on opportunities to make new connections, even in the same room. For instance, several participants in one group discovered that their shared a passion for cooking after the game.

4. Serendipity plays an important role in declaring passions and discovering connections, so we need catalysts to discover people who share the same passion. For instance, one participant had mentioned graphic design as a passion, but hadn’t make any connections, until I mentioned it and several people said they shared his passion for graphic design, but hadn’t mentioned it as a passion-tag.

5. Once we discover others who share our passions, we are more inclined to like them and collaborate with them, even if we have known them in another context before. For instance, several participants were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were other gamers in the room.

6. In an interesting twist, some post-it notes fell off the white boards and some participants remarked that this was similar to people becoming inactive or leaving social networks, leading to broken connections. So, social networks are not static and both people in our networks and the passions we share with them are constantly changing.

In a one hour session, I spent 15 minutes in setting the context, 15 minutes in playing the game, and 30 minutes in discussion.

It seems to me that whenever I put aside my slide decks and use storytelling or games instead, I enjoy my workshops more (and the participants seem to learn more).

What about you? What are the most innovative games you have played in workshops you have hosted or attended? Do share your insights in the comments below?

Gaurav Mishra is a collaboration master who helps global brands integrate Purpose, Participation and Profits, as Director, Digital and Social Media, MSLGROUP Asia. He originally wrote about the low tech social network on his award winning blog

The Future of Consulting: PART ONE

Posted on by Brandon Klein

The consultant of the future will have to possess characteristics not considered standard in today’s… PowerPoint, hide behind email and corporate hierarchies.

1) Flexible to a fault 
2) Listening between the lines 
3) Swiss Army style tech and social expert BUT specialized expertise 
4) Personal branding 
    o Online tracking like your phone 
5-10 will be covered next week… 
5) Pretend PowerPoint 
6) Fun is paramount  
7) Data visualization 
8) Quirk, uniqueness, excel point OR detail master 
9) Long term goal-oriented 

1) All workers, whether employed by a company fulltime, or those who work on a consulting basis, must remain flexible to a fault. Bussing dishes or defining a new direction for the company… there is no difference in importance of work. You are removing distractions and creating new space to move everyone forward. The more you are involved at every level, the better understanding your connections are and the more successful you are likely to be. There is nothing wrong with delegation, but if you have to clean the toilets, do it with a smile and you will own a lot more than that toilet before you know it. For more on this, read about Servant Leadership 

2) Of course, a consultant needs to build relationships with clients.  Just as a doctor might build a relationship of trust with his or her patients by listening to the patient’s complaints, and carefully “listening between the lines” for anything that is not apparent, an independent contractor should do the same.  Each client, whether face-to-face or remote, has needs that cannot always be expressed.  Sometimes, an important interpersonal skill for a businessperson to have is one of good listening and empathy for the client.  On some days, one may sit down to a phone call to hear an unusual tone of voice.  Or, when the consultant has a meeting over Skype, he or she might notice particular differences in their client’s expression and manner.  It is no different than sitting down to dinner or lunch with clients or an employer. The good businessperson must pick up the tone of the interaction to determine the best outcome for the client.  The medium of the Internet does not take away human interaction.  Some people say that it does.  While remote communication is not quite the same as face-to-face interaction, there always remain subtleties between people, no matter how close or far away.
In the past, letters with postage stamps were so significant to both business and personal relationships that entire relationships, and even pieces of history, were based upon correspondence.  People may scoff at electronic collaboration.  However, in past times, remote communication proved vital.  For example, Emily Dickinson corresponded for years with a man who would later help her to gain exposure.  She considered the handwritten letters so important to expression and communication that she wrote to the man for years about her work.  Finally, the man visited Dickinson’s house, to meet her in person.  He was stunned at the woman he met, but without the depth of their correspondence, her work may not have been recognized as it should have.  Her family finally brought her work to the fore, but this correspondence basically served as business communication with a man who practically became her editor, and liaison to the world. 

3) An independent contractor/consultant needs in-depth skill and knowledge of the particular area in which he or she works.   In fact, that specialization should be of such rapt interest to the worker that he or she always seeks new and innovative ways to complete a work assignment.  For instance, a freelance writer needs superior writing skill and should always polish and perfect the art of writing.  That way, whenever an assignment reaches the writer’s door, the freelance consultant can complete the work at his or her full capacity.  
Computer literacy proves crucial to the modern contractor’s success.  In a working world where people literally touch each other from across the globe, thorough knowledge of technology is essential.  Without this, the consultant of the future cannot stay afloat.  From conducting meetings via webcam, to understanding Search Engine Optimization, the contractor must understand that technology is not an abstract concept; it remains just as essential as the obnoxious, clunky typewriter or clanging cash register did to business in the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies. Unless a job requires pure person-to-person contact, such as in-depth social work, or the practice of medicine, most large-scale businesses thrive on technology.  The Internet is the lifeblood to any business, whether local or global. For social business insight, see Chris Brogan and the Dachis Group

4) Online branding…
We learn more about being ourselves online as HBR proves: 

1. When you commit to being your real self online, you discover parts of yourself you never dared to share offline.
2. When you visualize the real person you're about to e-mail or tweet, you bring human qualities of attention and empathy to your online communications. 
3. When you take the idea of online presence literally, you can experience your online disembodiment as a journey into your mind rather than out of your body.
4. When you treat your Facebook connections as real friends instead of "friends", you stop worrying about how many you have and focus on how well you treat them.
5. When you take your Flickr photos, YouTube videos and blog posts seriously as real art, you reclaim creative expression as your birthright.
6. When you focus on creating real meaning with your time online, your online footprint makes a deeper impression.
7. When you treat your online attention as a real resource, you invest your attention in the sites that reflect your values, helping those sites grow.
8. When you spend your online time on what really matters to you, you experience your time online as an authentic reflection of your values.
9. When you embrace online conversations as real, you imbue them with the power to change how you and others think and feel.
10. When you talk honestly about the real joys and frustrations of the Internet, you can stop apologizing for your life online.

Modern day consultants are already considering a variety of personal branding tools online.
All of these are in use at the authors site:
Tools used:
…and more


Part II coming your way next week. 

Collaboration Success Depends on FUN

Posted on by Brandon Klein

The CEO of Undercurrent and author of ‘Game Frame’ talks about how to make life more interesting and engaging through the use of game mechanics. In the fascinating talk, Dignan explains:
  • Why the future of work is play
  • How we’re bored in places that matter – school, work etc. and how to fix this.
  • It comes down to motivation and achievement
  • The 2 key issues: lack of volition and lack of faculty
  • That play is nature’s learning engine

Read more at PSFK

How Collaboration Can Make the Skype Deal Work for Microsoft

Posted on by Fabrice Talbot

Remember when AOL and Time Warner merged to create the world’s greatest media empire? Or when eBay admitted that it had overpaid in its $2.6 billion acquisition of Skype in 2005 - eBay took a writedown of $1.4 billion.

This brings us to the record-breaking deal between Microsoft and Skype. If we put the financials aside for a moment and look at how this could work on the ground, a few issues arise.

  • Different Cultures – blending different business cultures is always a challenges and getting the Skype team to believe in the Microsoft way of doing business may take some doing.
  • Integrating Technologies – the peer-to-peer technology of Skype needs to be assessed and merged into the development path for other Microsoft applications.
  • Internal Politics – Ownership is always an issue during mergers as power bases will inevitably change or be challenged.
  • Communications – Making sure that both sides sing from the same hymn sheet is the first challenge for the PR departments; then other divisions need to find practical ways to manage meetings and reporting structures. For example, do they start skyping each other or use existing Microsoft communications tools?
  • Information Silos – Getting access to codes bases is relatively easy but finding ways to extract information from skilled developers and Subject Matter Experts may not go so smoothly.

Remember, not everyone may see the benefit of this alliance. So, how do you tackle this? After all, you’ve paid several billion dollars.

Making Collaboration Work

With these issues in mind, let’s look at how Microsoft and Skype could use collaboration to make this work:

  • Information Democracy – Find ways to release information from silos and share data across business units. Create an open culture where both teams, e.g. the Skype and Microsoft security teams, share information that benefits both sides. Remember, they all work for Microsoft now, though the ‘I’m from Skype’ will take some time to fade away. Use collaborative technologies that encourage the sharing – not hoarding – of information and stimulate others to share their knowledge across functions and business units.
  • Increase Trust – It’s hard to generate goodwill from those you’ve never met. One of the challenges for brand managers is to integrate Skype into Microsoft's other offerings, for example, the Microsoft Office suite and Internet Explorer. The difficult here is that the Windows and Office business units (to a large degree) determine their own agenda and getting them onside will take some arm-wrestling. But you have to start somewhere. To justify the investment, Microsoft needs to bring these divisions on board. How do you get this started? Start on small projects. Collaborate together. Identify what works, smooth out the issues, and work towards larger projects.
  • Create Bridges Not Barriers – Talking about trust, synergy, and win-wins is fine but you need to demonstrate it to workers. One way to do this is to remove barriers and create a culture of sharing, openness, and one that sparks collaboration. How to start? Give everybody access to everybody else within the organization (the exception is sensitive data, such as HR and Financial data). If a business unit needs real-time information, for example, for a specific sales territory, they should be able to connect with the salesperson, without suffering any negative consequences.
  • Encourage Web Collaboration – With the rise of Social Media, companies are beginning to see real tangible benefits when engaging online. One suggested approach for this merger is to tap into the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ and get a feel for where Skype should go next.
  • Practice What You Preach – Remember, Microsoft already has a VoIP product, Microsoft Messenger which has 260m accounts. How do you integrate Microsoft Messenger, Skype (660 million) and other Microsoft products, such as Xbox? While this seems like the project from hell – imagine trying to integrate all these IDs into a single database without duplications or deletions – it gives Microsoft an opportunity to use collaborative technologies on a massive scale and then capitalize on the knowledge gained from this process.
  • Reward input – Collaboration is an iterative process. It can be difficult to gauge what works until the results trickle through. For sure, if employees feel intimidated or are reluctant to share their insights the company will stagnate. It’s probably not a coincidence that the most creative firm in the last ten years – Google – encourages employees to work on ‘pet’ projects. While not all of these come to fruition, it creates a culture of creativity. One where employees are challenged to contribute and collaborative with others.


Remember Microsoft had the idea of tablets long before Apple's iPad, but internal politics didn’t support the initiative. The Skype deal allows it to re-position itself with consumers and bask in the halo effect of this ‘cool’ brand. This requires both sides to pull in the same direction, build bridges where islands exist, and reward managers who use collaboration to make this happen.

Do you think they can make this happen?

About the Author: Fabrice Talbot is the founder of Agilewords, an online document review and approval application. You can read his blog at


Twitter Collaboration: Not Really

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Egyptian revolution visualized 

You might have heard of Tim Burton's Twitter collective storytelling using twitter. But probably not, because it wasn't that good. Maybe you heard about what your nephew had for breakfast on Twitter. But you probably didn't care. But, then again, you probably heard about the revolutions happening in the Middle East/Africa. Twitter helped/is helping. Maybe? Well, at least a little bit. 

Generally, you are right, most people roll there eyes at the mention of Twitter.

But here are 15 reasons you should pay attention to Twitter, regardless of what business you are in - interested in collaboration or not. Originally penned by the excellent Alan Rusbridger, they are well worth listening closely @too: 

1) It's an amazing form of distribution

2) It's where things happen first

3) As a search engine, it rivals Google

4) It's a formidable aggregation tool

5) It's a great reporting tool

6) It's a fantastic form of marketing

7) It's a series of common conversations. Or it can be

8) It's more diverse

9) It changes the tone of writing

10) It's a level playing field

11) It has different news values

12) It has a long attention span

13) It creates communities

14) It changes notions of authority

15) It is an agent of change


1) It's an amazing form of distribution

It's a highly effective way of spreading ideas, information and content. Don't be distracted by the 140-character limit. A lot of the best tweets are links. It's instantaneous. Its reach can be immensely far and wide.

Why does this matter? Because we do distribution too. We're now competing with a medium that can do many things incomparably faster than we can. It's back to the battle between scribes and movable type. That matters in journalistic terms. And, if you're trying to charge for content, it matters in business terms. The life expectancy of much exclusive information can now be measured in minutes, if not in seconds. That has profound implications for our economic model, never mind the journalism.

2) It's where things happen first

Not all things. News organisations still break lots of news. But, increasingly, news happens first on Twitter. If you're a regular Twitter user, even if you're in the news business and have access to wires, the chances are that you'll check out many rumours of breaking news on Twitter first. There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies — to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get.

3) As a search engine, it rivals Google

Many people still don't quite understand that Twitter is, in some respects, better than Google in finding stuff out. Google is limited to using algorithms to ferret out information in the unlikeliest hidden corners of the web. Twitter goes one stage further – harnessing the mass capabilities of human intelligence to the power of millions in order to find information that is new, valuable, relevant or entertaining.

4) It's a formidable aggregation tool

You set Twitter to search out information on any subject you want and it will often bring you the best information there is. It becomes your personalised news feed. If you are following the most interesting people they will in all likelihood bring you the most interesting information. In other words, it's not simply you searching. You can sit back and let other people you admire or respect go out searching and gathering for you. Again, no news organisation could possibly aim to match, or beat, the combined power of all those worker bees collecting information and disseminating it.

5) It's a great reporting tool

Many of the best reporters are now habitually using Twitter as an aid to find information. This can be simple requests for knowledge which other people already know, have to hand, or can easily find. The so-called wisdom of crowds comes into play: the 'they know more than we do' theory. Or you're simply in a hurry and know that someone out there will know the answer quickly. Or it can be reporters using Twitter to find witnesses to specific events – people who were in the right place at the right time, but would otherwise be hard to find.

6) It's a fantastic form of marketing

You've written your piece or blog. You may well have involved others in the researching of it. Now you can let them all know it's there, so that they come to your site. You alert your community of followers. In marketing speak, it drives traffic and it drives engagement. If they like what they read they'll tell others about it. If they really like it, it will, as they say, 'go viral'. I only have 18,500 followers. But if I get re-tweeted by one of our columnists, Charlie Brooker, I instantly reach a further 200,000. If Guardian Technology pick it up it goes to an audience of 1.6m. If Stephen Fry notices it, it's global.

7) It's a series of common conversations. Or it can be

As well as reading what you've written and spreading the word, people can respond. They can agree or disagree or denounce it. They can blog elsewhere and link to it. There's nothing worse than writing or broadcasting something to no reaction at all. With Twitter you get an instant reaction. It's not transmission, it's communication. It's the ability to share and discuss with scores, or hundreds, or thousands of people in real time. Twitter can be fragmented. It can be the opposite of fragmentation. It's a parallel universe of common conversations.

8) It's more diverse

Traditional media allowed a few voices in. Twitter allows anyone.

9) It changes the tone of writing

A good conversation involves listening as well as talking. You will want to listen as well as talk. You will want to engage and be entertaining. There is, obviously, more brevity on Twitter. There's more humour. More mixing of comment with fact. It's more personal. The elevated platform on which journalists sometimes liked to think they were sitting is kicked away on Twitter. Journalists are fast learners. They start writing differently.

Talking of which…

10) It's a level playing field

A recognised "name" may initially attract followers in reasonable numbers. But if they have nothing interesting to say they will talk into an empty room. The energy in Twitter gathers around people who can say things crisply and entertainingly, even though they may be "unknown." They may speak to a small audience, but if they say interesting things they may well be republished numerous times and the exponential pace of those re-transmissions can, in time, dwarf the audience of the so-called big names. Shock news: sometimes the people formerly known as readers can write snappier headlines and copy than we can.

11) It has different news values

People on Twitter quite often have an entirely different sense of what is and what isn't news. What seems obvious to journalists in terms of the choices we make is quite often markedly different from how others see it – both in terms of the things we choose to cover and the things we ignore. The power of tens of thousands of people articulating those different choices can wash back into newsrooms and affect what editors choose to cover. We can ignore that, of course. But should we?

12) It has a long attention span

The opposite is usually argued – that Twitter is simply a, instant, highly condensed stream of consciousness. The perfect medium for goldfish. But set your Tweetdeck to follow a particular keyword or issue or subject and you may well find that the attention span of Twitterers puts newspapers to shame. They will be ferreting out and aggregating information on the issues that concern them long after the caravan of professional journalists has moved on.

13) It creates communities

Or, rather communities form themselves around particular issues, people, events, artifacts, cultures, ideas, subjects or geographies. They may be temporary communities, or long-terms ones, strong ones or weak ones. But I think they are recognisably communities.

14) It changes notions of authority

Instead of waiting to receive the 'expert' opinions of others – mostly us, journalists — Twitter shifts the balance to so-called 'peer to peer' authority. It's not that Twitterers ignore what we say – on the contrary (see distribution and marketing, above) they are becoming our most effective transmitters and responders. But, equally, we kid ourselves if we think there isn't another force in play here – that a 21-year-old student is quite likely to be more drawn to the opinions and preferences of people who look and talk like her. Or a 31-year-old mother of young toddlers. Or a 41-year-old bloke passionate about politics and the rock music of his youth.

15) It is an agent of change

As this ability of people to combine around issues and to articulate them grows, so it will have increasing effect on people in authority. Companies are already learning to respect, even fear, the power of collaborative media. Increasingly, social media will challenge conventional politics and, for instance, the laws relating to expression and speech.

Now you could write a further list of things that are irritating about the way people use Twitter. It's not good at complexity – though it can link to complexity. It can be frustratingly reductive. It doesn't do what investigative reporters or war correspondents do. It doesn't, of itself, verify facts. It can be distracting, indiscriminate and overwhelming.

Moreover, I'm simply using Twitter as one example of the power of open, or social media. Twitter may go the way of other, now forgotten, flashes in the digital pan. The downside of Twitter also means that the full weight of the world's attention can fall on a single unstable piece of information. But we can be sure that the motivating idea behind these forms of open media isn't going away and that, if we are blind to their capabilities, we will be making a very serious mistake, both in terms of our journalism and the economics of our business.

If this isn't enough for you - check out how tools like Twitter, which represent the larger picture of social media fit into your business (or could) fit into your success...


Accelerating 'Group Share' Time

Posted on by Dan Newman

I just used a novel (I think) report-out design that might be of interest. We rarely put the same effort into designing report-outs that we do into designing team modules, but they are no less important. In this case, it was a spur-of-the-moment design intended to solve a timing problem rather than a reasoned design decision, but it could be useful in many circumstances. As usual, necessity was the mother of invention.


We were running rather late and we needed to shorten a report out from a Design Challenges module – one in which we bring the participants out into the future and give them a success scenario – “how did you achieve this success despite the fact that…” – and then give them variable that is exaggerated just to the far edge of plausibility: halve the budget, shorten the time by two-thirds, increase throughput by 300%, whatever.


This sort of module, which I frequently use just before a First Draft exercise, is useful in helping them ignore constraints and bring some of the possibilities experienced in Scan well into a Focus exercise. The team reports tend to be rather good, though no more than a couple of teams will come up with genuine insights or breakthroughs.


We simply didn’t have time to listen through all the chaff in search of a few gems, so here’s the simple design we employed:


Each team had only one minute (use visual stopwatch) to present their findings. After this quick round, we raised hands to vote for which team’s report the participants wanted to hear in more detail. The two top vote-getters got an additional six minutes each.


The solutions of the two ‘winning’ teams were both very good and elements of their ideas made it through to the final team work the next day.


Read more about Dan Newman's work at Matter Solutions

5 Principles of Effective Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

 The web is full of lists. Any kind of list. All lists for all things can be found within an instant. Every once in a while you come across a list so accurate, you have to discuss, analyze, share and hopefully implement into your daily work. Here is the best list I have found this year when it comes to collaboration and working together in smarter, better and more effective ways.

1. The person will select the “task”, rather than be given the “task”. Ever since the inception of the modern firm, people were given tasks to do in a prescriptive, deterministic manner. Initially this made sense, since firms were built on industrial-revolution models, and linear workflow was the norm. But that was for a different time, and the environment has changed completely. Talent is at a premium. There’s no point in hiring smart people and then telling them what to do, that makes no sense whatsoever. The most precious asset of the knowledge-worker enterprise is the knowledge worker, her human and social capital, her relationships and her capabilities. It makes more sense to expose knowledge workers to problem domains and then giving them the resources and tools to solve those problems.

2. Tasks will be non-linear in nature, rather than assembly-line. When someone new joins a firm, the experience is going to be very similar to that of playing a modern video game. The new joiner will spend time in some form of sandbox or training ground, learning a number of key things: the “game mechanics“, the values, rules and principles by which the firm operates; the “game controls“, how you navigate around the workplace, how you discover things, how you acquire learning and other assets to deploy, how you “save” your work, how you “replay” or “continue”; and the “game dashboard“, the tools that let you see the environment, your powers and authorities, feedback loops on position and progress, primarily team rather than personal, though both are visible.

3. True team-based work will become the norm, not the exception. For decades we’ve been talking about teamwork in the enterprise, but that’s what it’s been for the most part. Talk. For teamwork to become part and parcel of everyday enterprise life, small, self-organising multidisciplinary teams must be allowed to exist, crossing many historical boundaries. Teamwork is meaningless unless the team is given work to do that is suitable for doing as a team. There’s no point in calling a bunch of individuals a team, just because they report hierarchically to the same point in the organisation, or because they have the same broad skills. Work is normally carried out by people in multiple parts of the organisation, belonging to different departments, putting to use their disparate skills. The “team”, in practice, is distributed across different departments, functions, locations. And the very structure of the firm militates against teamwork, since these departments, functions and locations tend to optimise within the department, function or location. That optimisation is often underpinned, even accelerated, by the reward system in place, which places a premium on the results of such local optimisation. Interdepartmental cooperation and collaboration is, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes very much on purpose, made difficult.

It’s actually much worse, since the teams spoken of so far are all within one enterprise domain. The teams of the future will include members from trading partners, the supply chain, and (perish the thought) real, live customers. It’s no longer just a question of misaligned incentives: we haven’t really figured out how to do this. Collective intelligence and crowdsourcing will have nothing more than a small number of hackneyed poster children to show if we don’t learn from this and do something about it.

4. Cognitive surpluses will be put to use sensibly, rather than discarded. We have to get away from the idea that knowledge work is smooth and stable and uniform and assembly-line in structure and characteristic. Knowledge work is lumpy. Period. There will be peaks. And there will be troughs. The current thinking appears to go something like this: “If we have troughs it will look like we don’t have enough work to do, so we need to pretend to work. Let’s fill our days up in advance with things that don’t depend on market or customer stimulus, things we can plan well in advance. And let’s call these things meetings. Then we can look busy all the time.” Such thinking has produced some unworthwhile consequences: layers of people who excel at meetings, who know how to game the process of meetings;  the agendas and minutes and presentations and whatnot. Which then leads to the creation of a class of signal boosters, who summarize meetings and fight over who can carry the signal to the next level within the organization, who slow work down by constantly asking questions designed to boost their signal-booster reputations, who work as the enterprise equivalent of K Street, unseemlily knocking each other over as they rush to “brief” their superiors in the hierarchy.

The solution to all this lies in recognizing that cognitive surpluses can and do exist, and should be put to sensible use. Investing in wikipedia-like projects, dealing with definitions and jargon explanations and data cleansing and question-answering and the like.

5. Radically different tools and processes will be needed as a result, time-shiftable, place-shiftable, multimedia. Because, as Einstein is reported to have said, we can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created the problems. Tools that view privacy differently, that view confidentiality differently. Tools that recognize the existence of the individual within the firm, the existence of multidisciplinary, sometimes multi-organisational, multi-location as well. Tools that are intrinsically multimedia, allowing text to be augmented with image and voice and video. Tools that are platform and operating system agnostic. Tools that are mobile, self-examining, self-healing. Tools that can be replaced with ease, using the synchronization power of the cloud.

The 5 principles are the original work of the genius JP @ Confused of Calcutta

And not to lose the true expertise on the subject of future collaboration, an example from the finance industry is nothing short of genius either:

The week at Sibos was both enlightening and discouraging. Being surrounded by thousands of similarly outfitted bankers was surreal, and Matrix-like. The video we presented during Monday morning’s keynote was intended to plant a seed about what is going on, to provoke them, to inspire them. The feedback I received afterwards was mostly positive, but the message seems to have mostly gone over their heads.

The problem isn’t just that we are speaking different languages, but that we live in different worlds.

The impression I got over the week is that the finance industry is in the business of making money and maintaining the status quo. They threw around a lot of words like “rebuilding trust” and “resilience” and “innovation,” but I never heard any conversation about what those things mean and how they intend to do them.

There was talk about real-time information, cloud computing, and mobile technology – and how banks can use these things to operate more efficiently with each other – but not about how the industry can be revitalized to actually improve the quality of people’s lives by empowering them with new tools and information. (We were mostly referred to as “end users,” or sometimes more fondly as “customers.”)

One evening, I was invited to an exclusive VIP dinner, where I sat at a round table with Paul Saffo, John Hagel, and the CEO of Swift himself, Lazaro Campos. Lazaro picked my brain about the future of banking and asked me what young people want. The answer to me is so simple and obvious that apparently it’s elusive or opaque to those who can make it happen.

I told him that I don’t trust banks, and that there is nothing about a bank that would entice me to feel pride in being associated with it. I’ve had time now to think more about it, so I’d like to expand on what I meant.

All the decisions about where I spend my time, attention, and money say something about me. For example:

I buy organic food from local farms and products and services from local businesses. – (I believe in building resilient communities by supporting local economy.)

I have a garden, I fish, I hunt, I brew beer. – (I find empowerment, gratification, and joy from understanding where food comes from and how to get it myself.)

I recycle. – (I understand that we live on a planet with finite resources and I want to reduce my impact.)

I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. – (I prefer not to buy products that were produced in a country where people’s labor had to be exploited so I could “save” a dollar.)

I practice yoga and meditation. – (Physical and mental health are important to me.)

OK, this could go on, but these are just a few lifestyle choices to make a point about the way I want to interact with my environment and my own body and mind.

Now, what does my bank say about me?


I haven’t found a bank that offers a real competitive advantage over another, in terms of how it represents me and my lifestyle.

So, what WOULD I want from a bank?


As Caroline Wooland put it in the Future of Money video:
I would share almost all of my information with complete strangers because I feel there’s an integrity to the way I live, and it’s fine for other people to know about that.
I feel the same way. Why don’t our banks operate like that? All I know about the way my bank works is that I deposit my money there, and then they take that money and go make money off of it. Where is that money going? Where is it being invested? Can I have control over how you use my money? Can I set a standard of where I allow you to invest my money, so I can be proud to say my money is being invested in green technology, or local initiatives, or ANYTHING that I care about? Or is it just being thrown around in a speculative market and making money off of itself, without generating actual value or wealth for the world?

If so, that doesn’t make me proud. It makes me ashamed.

Intelligent Investing Opportunities

I make almost all my purchases on my debit card or on the credit card that’s linked to my bank account, because I like keeping track of where my money goes. So, in terms of spending, my bank knows who I am and what I care about. I’d also be happy to link my Twitter account to my bank account so they can know the kind of people and organizations I talk to and the articles I’m reading, to give an even more granular understanding of what I’m about. I’d link my Meetup account so they know the kind of events that interest me and the conferences I attend. I’d link my foursquare account so they know the stores and restaurants I patronize. I’d basically provide everything, if in return, I could have a service that was like the eBay or Netflix of investing. Show me opportunities where I can micro-invest in things I care about. Recommend ways I can save money on the things I already buy regularly. Show me how I can leverage my network and invest with a whole swarm of people. (Think Groupon for investing.) And then make each of these investments a part of my digital identity. I WANT people to know. I’ll wear it like a badge. Give me a service that empowers me to invest intelligently and in a way that represents the ethics I believe in, and I’ll tell everybody about it. This information will become part of “Social Credit Score”, which will be more important than our current credit scores one day. Oh, I’ll also need you to provide a Reputation Management service for all this information.

Real-Time Data Visualization

This should be obvious, but is the only service I’ve seen so far that actually has cool visualizations of the flow and distribution of my money, and it’s still not robust. I want a better version of that. In real time.

Social Network Analysis for Co-Production Opportunities

I need a bank that understands that I’m connected to the web and my network pretty much all the time, and they are as real a part of my “wealth” as money. I need a service that helps me visualize my social networks and exchange information with them rapidly and easily. I also want to be able to find more people who share my visions and interests so that we can take action together. I’ve been succeeding at this serendipitously so far – (if I hadn’t become a member of Space Collective, I wouldn’t have found @gabrielshalom and the Future of Money video wouldn’t have happened.) But I want some more intentionality behind this. Again, like Netflix recommendations, but for people and projects. There are a lot of people out there who want to cooperate and collaborate in order to manifest something together and make their lives and the world a better place. How do we find each other? Could a BANK help hook us up and then provide us with the information and resources we need to take an idea to action? Could we display projects we want to work on that are socially responsible and environmentally sustainable, and the bank links us to the investors that can help actualize it? I need a service that helps link unmet needs with unused resources. Where’s the database that makes this information transparent and available?

Complimentary Currencies for Local Economy

Money is not going to go away anytime soon, but it is not the ideal form of currency for every kind of transaction. Why is it not simple for individuals and communities to implement local currencies in order to exchange goods and services, and build trust, relationships, and resilience? Could a bank help with this? And I’m not talking about a centrally issued currency. I’m talking about taking some tips from initiatives like the Metacurrency Project and Open Money, and providing tools for communities to create their own currencies.

“WHAT?!!?”, says the bank. “BUT WE’LL BE DISINTERMEDIATED!!!!”

Well, that’s a narrow perspective. What will happen is a strengthening of local economies, and a multitude of new business opportunities that will arise BECAUSE there is that infrastructure that keeps things moving even in times of “economic crisis.”

And besides, it’s already happening. It makes sense to have a commons, and it makes sense to share resources when appropriate and viable. It makes sense to remove the layers of abstraction that money creates, and to design currencies that actually rebuild social fabric. It makes sense to know the people that are within your proximity, and be aware of the resources they have at their disposal, and have systems in place that allow them to be exchanged.

So, returning to the dinner table last week – Lazaro, these are a few things I want. Will they come from a bank? That’s up to you guys. I’m telling you the values I have, the way I want to live and work, and the tools I need. I have a vision of a new kind of economy, an open society, and new models of peer to peer production.

But does the financial industry care?

Well, here’s a quote from SWIFT’s Deputy Chairman, Stephan Zimmerman, during the closing plenary. You can watch the video here to get the full context, but this is what he had to say about the expectations of Gen Y:
I wonder, are those convictions strong enough to overcome the realities of what makes the financial industry or system tick today………. My own take on this is that the prevailing values may be stronger than the new values.
That one statement was like a punch in the gut. My interpretation of it was “It is what it is, and it’s not changing.”

If that is the ethos of the financial industry, then I don’t understand what they mean when they call for “innovation.”

I will say that I had a great time with the Innotribe team (the tiny contingent of creative troublemakers at Swift). They seem to be trying hard to make a real impact, and are really willing to take risks. (hell, they invited me there.)

But if “the financial industry” at large, (whoever that is), doesn’t understand that there is a new mindset that is spreading around the planet, how can they expect to tap into it?

It wasn’t lost on me that I got looks of skepticism and cynicism by some of the bankers that week. I also got plenty of looks that made me feel like someone was going to pat me on the head and say “Awwww, well that’s a cute idea! But you obviously have no idea about how the world works.”


I do get it. Everyone gets it. The wheels are barely being held onto the cart to keep the grand illusion of this dog and pony show going.

The word “vision” means seeing beyond what is. It means a fundamental shift in the way we choose to interpret the world and our place within it. Everything about “the way things work” is, and always has been, an evolution of socially constructed realities. What happens when we change the meaning of reality?

This isn’t a recession. It’s the growing pains of a transformational evolution in how humanity functions.

People are waking up, consciousness is evolving, and the infrastructures are being built to make it easy for people to communicate, connect, collaborate, and build a world that is mutually beneficial FOR ALL. Beyond a zero-sum game. It’s possible. It’s a choice. We can all be a part of it, and everybody wins.

Join the party.

Emergent by Design is the genius behind this work.


Change Your Introduction, Change The Atmosphere

Posted on by Mirra Fine

At an event in Tucson, and in light of the recent events, we decided to take a different approach to the typical event introduction. Instead of one individual presenting to everyone, these participants were given the opportunity to discuss the expectations of the event and present their findings to the entire group.

Individuals were grouped into teams of 3 or 4 and participated in a conversation facilitated by one of 9 team/krew members before taking turns reporting out their learnings. The facilitator merely added color commentary or inserted what might have been left out.

Two teams covered each of the topics below:

1. Iteration/Design/Decision by Design

2. Knowledge/Inputs/Brains-Answers in the room

3. Teamwork/Focus/Breaks/Agenda

4. Environment/Music/Everything Speaks/Facilitation Team

5. Axioms

The sponsors and participants were incredibly engaged, but the report outs were hit and miss depending on the presenter. There is little doubt that the long term retention of the content of the intro was increased exponentially, if only by the fact that this approach is actually practicing what we preach... listen to something and you will only remember 7%, teach something and you will remember 80%...

However, we decided that in the future it would be better to give participants a bit more guidance. Mike Klar made the astute observation that we should have turned the exercise into an interview (link is a description of the original module that could be converted for use here). The small Kotter groups would get a the questions around their topic and then they would interview members of our team. This would give them an opportunity to better understand each element of the process before presenting to the larger group.

Given the circumstances in Tucson, it is hard to imagine doing a regular intro, but for more typical events, a hybrid or improvement on the above learnings could be infinitely more powerful than the typical introduction that every session, conference, keynote, meeting, workshop etc. in the world always begins with.

STOP: Teach Art Before Your Customers Answer Questions

Posted on by David Roberts

Many of us run individual perspectives activities designed to allow participants to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a different way. Specifically, we are moving them away from black text in bullet points and toward the use of strategic models that communicate more effectively.

There's a recent learning Aaron Williamson, Doug Cheek and I stumbled on when we were in a time-crunched situation. We wanted to change the introduction to an individual perspectives activity. The experiences below come from three workshops led by The Difference to unlock collaboration and unleash action:

  1. Work with a graphic facilitator to teach graphic recording, and go back-and-forth with a scribe about what they think about when they draw a model (Aaron Williamson, a Canadian by background, explained the sport of curling using a real-time model) (3 min)
  2. Write up and explain the 4 elements of strategic modeling (or some similar perspective on what the basics are) - Actors, Annotations, Relationships, and Frame (2 min)
  3. Have participants run a quick practice with using paper and pen under their chair. In two recent events of approximately 20 participants we had them do "Draw the process of making toast", then "Draw how you get dressed in the morning" (2 minutes to draw, 90 sec to share with neighbor, 90 sec to debrief)

Then move into an individual activity that asks them to put their perspective onto flip chart paper or a white board - typically this activity asks for their point of view on problem they are trying to solve or what strategy they are clarifying.

Doug, Aaron, and I did this on two recent short events with a biotech company and were blown away by how much faster and better their models were after just one practice session. And it doesn't take ANY extra time.

If you have time, you should do a more in depth training or explanation up front. I know a lot of us are working on what that experiential training for non-artists is. Very cool stuff.

The key is that everyone gets in a quick rep without the pressure of putting up their perspective, as a model for all to see, on something important. This practice rep greatly mitigates a big pressure element of individual perspectives: can I actually draw a model successfully.

The 10 minutes you lose in the build up you get back because they can do their models and perspectives in 15 min, not 25.

Collaborate Cognative Surplus

Posted on by Brandon Klein

TED Talk about the use of games, cognative surplus and collaboration 

For decades, technology encouraged people to squander their time and intellect as passive consumers. Today, tech has finally caught up with human potential. In Cognitive Surplus, Internet guru Clay Shirky forecasts the thrilling changes we will all enjoy as new digital technology puts our untapped resources of talent and goodwill to use at last.

Since we Americans were suburbanized and educated by the postwar boom, we've had a surfeit of intellect, energy, and time-what Shirky calls a cognitive surplus. But this abundance had little impact on the common good because television consumed the lion's share of it-and we consume TV passively, in isolation from one another. Now, for the first time, people are embracing new media that allow us to pool our efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this aggregated effort range from mind expanding-reference tools like Wikipedia-to lifesaving-such as, which has allowed Kenyans to sidestep government censorship and report on acts of violence in real time.

Shirky argues persuasively that this cognitive surplus-rather than being some strange new departure from normal behavior-actually returns our society to forms of collaboration that were natural to us up through the early twentieth century. He also charts the vast effects that our cognitive surplus-aided by new technologies-will have on twenty-first-century society, and how we can best exploit those effects. Shirky envisions an era of lower creative quality on average but greater innovation, an increase in transparency in all areas of society, and a dramatic rise in productivity that will transform our civilization.

The potential impact of cognitive surplus is enormous. As Shirky points out, Wikipedia was built out of roughly 1 percent of the man-hours that Americans spend watching TV every year. Wikipedia and other current products of cognitive surplus are only the iceberg's tip. Shirky shows how society and our daily lives will be improved dramatically as we learn to exploit our goodwill and free time like never before. 


Where was I? Oh yes, information doesn’t want to be free. You know something, sometimes I feel the same about knowledge. It doesn’t want to be free. As Paula Thornton said some years ago, maybe knowledge doesn’t want to be managed either.

Ever since I read Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus earlier this year, I’ve been thinking about the book’s implications for “knowledge management” in the enterprise. Which is why I wrote what I did yesterday, and planned to follow up today. Which is what I’m doing here.

Let’s start with knowledge. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to define knowledge in the enterprise as “information about anything and everything that makes our customers’ lives easier; as a corollary, information about anything and everything that helps us make our customers’ lives easier”. I feel that such a definition is in keeping with the ethos of Peter Drucker’s immortal saying “People make shoes. Not money“. If we make our customers’ lives easier, they will thank us for it. With their attention, their time, their loyalty, and even their money.

Using this definition, the management of knowledge can be defined as “the process by which we create, collect and share information that makes our customers’ lives easier”.

So who should be involved in such a process? Who would know the most about what would make our customers’ lives easier?

Our customers.

If you accept that logic, then the customer should be at the heart of any knowledge management system.

Who else? People who deal with the customer. Those who “touch” the customer. Followed by people who know something about the products or services those customers want or sometimes even need. Followed by people who know something about the process by which the products or services get created, delivered and exchanged for value.

Which means pretty much everybody in the enterprise. The extended enterprise. All the way to the customer.

Okay, so that’s the what and the who of knowledge management. Let’s take a look at the how.

One way of defining the how is to look at the things that failed in the past.

  • The right people weren’t involved.
  • Access and edit permissions were hierarchical rather than networked, preserving “expertise”
  • Information was inaccurate; without scale, the costs to correct were too high.
  • Information was missing: only text could be captured, image and sound were missing.
  • Information was out of date; production, reproduction and distribution costs were prohibitive, reviews were infrequent.
  • Information was inaccessible. Analogue, poorly indexed, and hard to copy.

Today, all these failures can be dealt with. Scale is not an issue for companies designed to make proper use of the internet. Network-based architectures are inherently more flexible than their hierarchical predecessors: role- and function- based permissioning is simpler to implement. Smartphones allow us to capture all types of media, not just text. Connectivity is pretty much ubiquitous. And the information is held digitally in the cloud, taggable, searchable, retrievable. From anywhere. Anytime.

Taking a leaf out of Clay’s book:

We have the means. Cloud computing infrastructures. Smart phones. Cloud services that allow people to converse with each other, share and annotate digital objects, improve upon them.

We have the motives. Human beings are inherently social, we like sharing. We enjoy the bonding, the peer respect, the recognition. No man is an iland, intire of it selfe.

We just haven’t had the opportunity before. Enlightened bosses are now providing that opportunity, by focusing on outcomes rather than input timesheets, allowing their staff to determine what happens with their cognitive surpluses.

Knowledge workers, part of the tertiary sector, are intrinsically different from those employed in the historical primary and secondary sectors of agriculture and manufacturing. Their work is lumpy, amorphous, misshapen, non-linear.

This is not a new problem. Many “professionals” faced real challenges of scheduling and prioritisation, and found it impossible to have true predictability in workflow. Ask a doctor. A nurse. A teacher. A policeman or fireman. Their lives have been about lumpiness and unpredictability and non-linearity.

But we were stuck in the manufacturing mindset, so we pretended these anomalies didn’t exist. And we designed our education and healthcare institutions as if they were industrial in origin. Look what they’ve done to my song, ma.

Today is another day. We now have means, motive and opportunity. All we have to do is to allow people to make use of their cognitive surpluses. Focus on outcomes rather than inputs. And make everything we do centre on the customer.

Originally publish by JP Rangaswami on Confused of Calcutta

Meeting Scheduling: Time-a-Wasted

Posted on by Brandon Klein

doodle-calendar.pngDespite the availability of efficient online scheduling tools, professionals burn up nearly five hours per week scheduling meetings, according to a study commissioned by Doodle, a company that makes one of those Web-based tools.

By the time the year ends, many have spent the cumulative equivalent of six weeks scheduling meetings, and that doesn't include time spent attending them.

Doodle surveyed a sample of 1,500 managers and administrative staff members in Germany, France and the United States and found that most of them were still using old school methods like email and telephone calls to try and coordinate a meeting between multiple people.

Doodle, much like competitors Tungle and SkedgeMe, offers a way for groups of professionals to schedule meetings online by picking from a set of various times that work for everybody, thereby eliminating much of the back-and-forth typically required to get something on the calendar.


The vast majority of respondents reporting using desktop calendars, email and telephone to plan meetings. Only 1% said they used online scheduling tools like Doodle, Tungle or SkedgeMe.

Originally publihed by Doodle & Read Write Web.

The implications are obvious: Insofar as these findings are representative of the larger population of businesses, it's clear that Web-based scheduling tools can save not only headaches (who likes planning meetings?) but also a significant amount of time, which can be freed up for more productive tasks.

About how much time do you spend per week planning meetings? Have you used online tools like the ones mentioned above? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

Giant Video & Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Projection on Buildings from NuFormer Projection on Vimeo.


Video collaboration comes in many formats. Most folks think that video falls into one of the following categories:

- Skype (largest online video conferencing service)
- (instant web based video collaboration - WebEx is the more famous version)
- VU HD Video and RAD Vision (for permanent HD personal and business conferencing) 
- Cisco TelePresence (the grand daddy of fixed video chatting)
- Willow Garage Remote Presence (wicked movable video robots)
- Multi-party live satellite mass collaboration video conferencing)


But we are entering a new era of not only giant video collaboration, but interactive and even 3D!

It doesn't do it justice to write about it, so check out some of the videos, pics and more keeping track of it all:

- Check out the video up top first!
- Sensory Minds to keep track of it all
- Datatron to power all these new pixels (check out their testimonial videos... amazing)
- And one day everything will be immersive as this tasty Salsa (opens video)


Where things are heading is truly spectacular. But lets not forget some of the collaboration principles and intention behind it all.  Read our articles about INTENT to help you, your team, your company determine your end state before creating these phenomenal interactions.

How To Find Collaboration Ideas Online

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Image by Dalton Ghetti

Your first instinct is to search what you are looking for. Don't waste your time.

Ok, if you must, search Twitter and Alltop - these will narrow you into real time and pre-sorted ideas by people you can communicate with/collaborate with instead of static outdated web pages.


1.) Go copy.

But copy the best in something un-related. Music videos are easily some of the most creative collaboration contributions of all time. Learn from them. Watch a few. Success guaranteed. And look beyond OK-GO. YouTube has a Music Video section.

2.) Go mimic.

Mimic an existing industry:

- Live TV production crew
- Race car pit crew
- TED Talk
- Bee hive
- Emergency Room
- etc. etc. etc.

And don't just mimic, look at why they do things, how they do things. How they are similar but better at what you do. What can you adapt tomorrow. What exercises do they use to get started. What tools do they use to collaborate. You would be hard pressed to not find instant usability.

3.) Go detailed.

Collaboration sometimes begins with filling the walls. NYU Hospital, one of the best hospitals in the country is 3 seconds faster that every other emergency room/operating room...

That s why at NYU Langone Medical Center, surgical instruments are hung on the wall, instead of kept in a drawer. This is one of the many ways we enhance performance and efficiency and, ultimately, deliver a higher quality of care.


4.) Go visual.

A truly fantastic guide to anyone interested in collaboration on and offline. Go Dave Gray. Go Go Gamestorm. Go visual. No really.


5.) Go practice

- Create a PowerPoint, or email or napkin and then record your voice explaining what you wrote. Sounds pretty bad the first time.
- Convert the collaboration idea or project or perspective into a Pecha Kucha presentation. A what. It contains your time and your medium. Have you ever seen a sport that didn't have rules around it?
- Now storyboard your collaboration. Like a film. Draw it out scene by scene. Watch how your 'everything' gets changed and dramatically improved.
- And this time Google for ideas on how to do each of these. Don't Google for your collaboration idea, Google for weak or starter idea you already have in place and it will become excellent.

6.) Go here.

We have a bunch of collaboration ideas right here on this site. In fact, we are already in the first few results on Google for "collaboration exercises." Check out:

- Collaboration exercises
- Collaboration experts - companies and people - they are your best bet to finding true collaboration
- Collaboration random



The Future of the Office

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Gartner's trends for the office of the future: 

1. De-routinization of Work
2. Work Swarms
3. Weak Links
4. Working With the Collective
5. Work Sketch-Ups
6. Spontaneous Work
7. Simulation and Experimentation
8. Pattern Sensitivity
9. Hyperconnected
10. My Place

Here is a great summary of their conclusions by Phil Wainewright.

So, why is this important to the Future of Collaboration? As Seth Godin says... 

150 years later, why go to work in an office/plant/factory?

1. That's where the machines are.
2. That's where the items I need to work on are.
3. The boss needs to keep tabs on my productivity.
4. There are important meetings to go to.
5. It's a source of energy.
6. The people I collaborate with all day are there.
7. I need someplace to go.


1. If you have a laptop, you probably have the machine already, in your house.
2. If you do work with a keyboard and a mouse, the items you need to work on are on your laptop, not in the office.
3. The boss can easily keep tabs on productivity digitally.
4. How many meetings are important? If you didn't go, what would happen?
5. You can get energy from people other than those in the same company.
6. Of the 100 people in your office, how many do you collaborate with daily?
7. So go someplace. But it doesn't have to be to your office.


Then again, there is always Texai:


But when you break it all down, it comes back to your ability to collaborate well together. Which means you need a process. So the office of the future isn't about all of this technology and theories but fundamentally changing the way we approach problems. This is tough to put into words, so check out the mind map of people and companies that are taking smart processes and applying them to the way we work for dramatically better results.