The recent post about Don Tapscott and some of his good ideas (Hear What Don Tapscott Has to Say) generated considerable comment from friends and colleagues. As I reviewed what I said, and what he had to say, it became clear that I have a little more to share about Tapscott’s thinking.
Here’s a quick follow-up
I took myself to Tapscott’s TED Talk, published last June, and I liked his message (the TED Talk is called Four Principles for the Open World, not a surprising title if you’ve watched the video interview published by McKinsey). He gets into his plea for openness right off the bat, and since openness, transparency, and sharing are all critical to our work as knowledge strategists, I’ll pass along some of what I picked up.
His “four principles” – it seems to me – have to do with Tapscott’s four approaches to openness, the four “different meanings” he offers. Collaboration, for example, is more successful than in the past because, as Tapscott puts it, in today’s collaborative environment “boundaries become more porous,” and social media rides high, probably accounting for some of those “more porous” boundaries.
Also part of the picture is a higher commitment – in today’s knowledge workplace – to transparency, enabling the building of trust (and going back, it seems to me, to the ideas about collaboration and trust Edward Marshall was writing about in the mid-1990s or so – if you don’t know Transforming the Way We Work: The Power of the Collaborative Workplace, find a copy and take a look). Some might disagree with me, but from my perspective (and Marshall’s), working collaboratively is how people want to work, and when given the chance to work in a group rather than alone, the result is often better than it would be if it came from a single worker. Arguable? Perhaps, but it’s my observation and in any case, Tapscott has picked up on the value of collaboration.
Sharing? Of course. To the extent that unless some sort of proprietary, fiduciary concerns are involved, sharing is just what we do. As I’ve noted often, the whole KM/knowledge services/knowledge strategy environment just doesn’t function if sharing isn’t built in; we might go so far as to say that sharing is the very foundation of KM and knowledge services, and we probably wouldn’t get any pushback.
And naturally I’m drawn to Tapscott’s fourth principle, that of empowerment. It’s only in an open world that societies can function with success, and as more and more of us learn that, building our lives and our workplaces around knowledge sharing and openness takes on a critical new focus. As people “learn about things,” Tapscott says, society becomes more open. “The arc of history” – I love the phrase – “is positive” and “it is open.” Well said.
If you have the opportunity to view the TED Talk, leave the cynicism and the skepticism at the door. Listen carefully, and by the time you get to the beautiful image at the end of the talk, you’ll be thinking very good thoughts about our future, both as knowledge professionals and as members of (I predict) a knowledge society.