Collaboration 2.0 … “From Ideas to Action”

I originally wrote this post two years ago so some of the cultural references are out of date. But even after two years, I believe the message still applies. This is especially the case in many “groups” on Facebook and Google+. There’s a lot of extremely talented and well directed people lending excellent ideas.

But it seems as if these excellent ideas stay being that … just ideas.

If there was one trend I would say is leading on the backstretch of the trends of 2011 (can you tell it’s the day after the Kentucky Derby) – it would be crowdsourcing and collaboration. With each week the “getting everyone involved” movement gathers stream. We saw it, and still are, with the Arab Spring in the Middle East. We’re seeing it domestically too. Even”hard to change” corporations are jumping on the bandwagon. Coke is currently crowdsourcing their new theme song (under the guidance of Teio Cruz). And two weeks ago Lady Gaga announced she’s giving away millions at four New York charities voted on by her “Little Monsters.”

In theory, this collaboration movement seems great. Finally, the “little guy” is getting a voice.

“The chasm between ideas and action”

Aside from efforts by a few high profile organizations – I see a problem. How do you move this collaboration off the internet into action in the real world? Not everyone is Coke or a pop star like Lady Gaga.

In my experience, there seems to be a chasm between thoughts and ideas, and the implementation of these thoughts and ideas.

There are numerous great online forums and groups that accommodate collaborative vision formation – but where does it go from there? It seems everyone wants to give their opinion (myself included), but who’s actually going to do the real work making it happen.

Somewhere in the process someone has to have the plan to put these visions to practical use. And then who will do the dirty work of actually executing the plan. That’s the strength of traditional organizations. The ideas that come from them may be flawed … but they get implemented. Even the collaborative revolution we saw in Egypt, earlier this year (2011), didn’t fully take form until the Muslim Brotherhood and their existing organizational structure joined in. The students turned over tactical control to them in the decisive battle of the Kasr al-Nil Bridge which marked the turning point in the rebellion. (And in hindsight, it was the organization of the Brotherhood that carried them past the rebellion right into governmental control)

There is no shortage of great ideas that can probably change the face of our future. Unfortunately, most of them are just ideas – even though they may have hundreds if not thousands of contributors. But someone needs to “take the bull by the horns” and channel them into a productive movements.

At present, it seems those that have the worst ideas, those in positions of power – have the strongest organizations to implement these ideas. (Again in hindsight, we’ve just seen the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt only two years later)

What we need is an “implementation template.” A platform where our collaborative ideas can move from just ideas and visions to acting solutions. While we may want to discard the status quo with a ‘scorched earth’ policy – and start anew … it isn’t practical. We have to grab some of the old and use it however best we can – to change the world.

Serious implementation questions need be answered before even the best ideas can come to fruition.

Every movement, every challenge, has to have someone to lead the charge. Not everyone is a leader however, nor do they need to be. And the organizational structure needed to get things done doesn’t happen by crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing may uncover a leader – but they still have to lead and they must have a plan to do so. Also, will those intricately involved in the idea formation be willing to take a similar influential role in getting it done? And if they aren’t – then who will? These are just a few of the questions that will arise.

We have a unprecedented opportunity to take this place we live in … and make it a whole better for everyone. It’ll take more than just ideas though. That I believe will be the next step in the evolution of collaboration … or as I call it –  “Collaboration 2.0.”

I’d like to make this post a clearinghouse for ideas on how to develop this “implementation template” I alluded to. Please throw in your ideas in the comments on how we can do this. All input, pro or con, is greatly appreciated.

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You can find me on Twitter at @clayforsberg and on Google+

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