"Everything you see and touch was once an invisible idea until someone chose to bring it into being. Any powerful ideas is absolutely fascinating and absolutely useless until we choose to use it." [Richard Bach]
[Photo from Felipe, at Flickr.]
I always feel energized by new ideas. Even more so after I have found a way to make them happen. Everyone has a different notion of what execution means -- your colleagues' may differ from your customers'.
It was just a fraction over one year ago that I was thinking about what was next in spreading information and sharing knowledge that is actionable. From their humble origins in listserv communications and forums -- remember Google and Yahoo groups? -- social networks and special interest groups are good starting points to launch many to many conversations.
That was working just fine except for rarely did anything definitive emerge as a result of those series of messages. Clearly, although someone might have owned the original idea, by the end of the discussion there was no to do list beyond what each participant chose to take away. Even with a central moderator or group leader, consensus seems to drive most of the interactions in a many to many conversation model. And while it may be good for getting along, consensus is not one of the main drivers of innovation.
By and large, social networks continue to have that component built in -- lots is said within the walls of the tool when online or the meeting when off line yet the implementation of any idea is still (a) happening somewhere else; (b) left to the individual to make happen.
Social media and self publishing are empowering tools. They are places where conversations can happen and value may be exchanged -- intrinsic or material if your blog, podcast, or vblog generates an income. Are they places where we make ideas happen? I've run a lot of research and tested several ideas and concept online last year. When people learn that I blog they usually ask me how much time that takes.
After my response some just shake their heads. How much time does research take? How much time do you set aside every week to learn something that will help you professionally? This blog has been the best investment in time and attention I've made in a long while. It has worked as an aggregator for testing and researching all the many ideas that pop into my mind. Instead of just thinking "wouldn't it be nice to try so and so?" I now often put it here as a concept post. Then refine it off line and try it out.
And there is an additional thought I'd like people on the fence to consider. Once you get to a certain level in your career -- not a factor of time, just one of opportunity, skill and discipline -- you may run out of learning runway especially since you may have more travel and commitments filling your calendar and less people to learn from in your immediate circle. This is where the next learning resides -- here's where you're learning also from you.
I am still using most of the ideas generated here -- the ones I do not have the physical time to make happen I gladly give away. This tool has been a powerful ally to this one person -- two-way and ongoing. Imagine what it can do for a company willing to energize it.
What is the most powerful idea you brought to life?
UPDATE: As ideas often go, this post catalyzed further research that landed me on some interesting work that HASTAC (humanities, arts, science, and technology advanced collaboration) and the MacArthur Foundation are doing to mobilize the field of digital media and learning through a $2 million open competition. This is an open call that supports all generations -- educators, researchers, gamers, think tanks, theorists, digital practitioners, journalists, graduate students, bloggers, and social networkers, for example are all encouraged to apply. From the site:
The Competition is designed to support pioneers who use new technologies to envision the future of learning. We seek innovators developing formal and informal educational environments that inspire creative thinking while informing and providing context to the digital learning styles of people today.
There are two categories. From the site Q&A:
Why single out “Innovation” and “Knowledge-Networking”? In an age of rapidly expanding information and communication technologies, innovation and networking are complementary and mutually interdependent. Innovation that isn’t communicated, shared, developed, customized, and implemented is irrelevant. Networking without significant content and innovative ideas can be shallow. In addition, knowledge-networking promotes the distribution of the best developments in digital media and learning in order that communities can participate in the growth, adoption, sharing, and conversation (and, ideally, the improvement) of those ideas.
Learn more about the competition and how to apply here.