The Transparency of the Networked Age

 Don Tapscott (CEO of the Tapscott Group) speaks of how we are moving from a business model of opacity to transparency which allows companies to turn customers into prosumers and cooperate in vast networks allowing for a new way of developing products. These networks are becoming material and a huge force in building a better world.
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The Air Force Collaboratory

The Air Force has launched a great new website, The Air Force Collaboratory, designed to crowdsource solutions to research projects.  As noted in an FCW article: “The first-level purpose of the site is to involve young people, in a collaborative way, in dealing with a tough technical challenge for the government.  This is not a contest; there are no prizes.  Instead, the site appeals both to a desire to excel and a desire to serve, both important themes for the Air Force.”

Its first three projects include:

  • Search and Rescue 2.0 – Develop new technologies through rapid prototyping to save lives trapped in collapsed structures
  • Mind of a Quadrotor – Build a system that allows a quadrotor to navigate its surroundings with minimal human interaction
  • Launch of GPS IIF – Target the precise coordinates within the GPS Constellation to launch our newest GPS satellite.

Kudos to the Air Force for leaning forward with another digital collaboration site reaching beyond its traditional enterprise.

Long Tenure Can Hurt Performance

A March 2013 Harvard Business Review article, Long CEO Tenure Can Hurt Performance, highlighted research on CEO tenure on impact with employees and customers.

It’s a familiar cycle: A CEO takes office, begins gaining knowledge and experience, and is soon launching initiatives that boost the bottom line. Fast-forward a decade, and the same executive is risk-averse and slow to adapt to change—and the company’s performance is on the decline. Optimal tenure length: 4.8 years.

The underlying reasons for the pattern have to do with how CEOs learn. Early on, when new executives are getting up to speed, they seek information in diverse ways, turning to both external and internal company sources. This deepens their relationships with customers and employees alike.

But as CEOs accumulate knowledge and become entrenched, they rely more on their internal networks for information, growing less attuned to market conditions. And, because they have more invested in the firm, they favor avoiding losses over pursuing gains. Their attachment to the status quo makes them less responsive to vacillating consumer preferences.

In part 3 of my Inventing a Digital Pentagon post, I had a similar point on tenure of managers and key headquarters staff.

While the DoD frets about the frequent turnover of political appointees and program managers, it should remain vigilant of people who are entrenched into key headquarters staff positions. Maintaining a steady pipeline of fresh talent and ideas in organizations fosters an environment for thought leaders to emerge.  Innovation rarely occurs from someone who has been in the same job for a decade. The DoD should review those who have been in a key position for over five years and develop transition strategies to maintain a vibrant enterprise.

Beyond tenure, they reinforced the importance of being attuned to the enterprise (internal and external) information networks.  I couldn’t agree more.

Radical Openness


radical-openness-coverDon Tapscott and Anthony Williams are brilliant thought leaders on how business, government, and society in the 21st Century can leverage technologies to achieve exciting new opportunities. Radical Openness is the latest in a series of books filled with real world examples to convey an insightful vision of the future. This quick read is broken into four parts:

  1. Why smart organizations embrace transparency with customers, stakeholders, and society to foster trust and accelerate business progress.
  2. Innovative and successful companies are dissolving corporate boundaries.
  3. How companies who tightly guarded their IP transition to a shared IP model, managed like a mutual fund portfolio.
  4. How the proliferation of global freedom and justice movements are shaking up the global balance of power.

They describe how digital technologies slash transition and collaboration costs allowing new ecosystems of companies and organizations to work together in new ways and tap a global pool of talent. Enabling users to participate in innovation improves company success rates and customer satisfaction. Focusing on dynamic platforms to provide opportunities for partners to contribute and collaboratively innovate. The advancement of IT in the Digital Age provides societies powerful insight into massive amounts of information. This access enables freedom, openness, integrity, and collaboration where everyone can participate in a sustainable global economy.

Radical Openness is a great read for those who want to develop strategies and leverage digital technology to effective lead an innovative enterprise.

Expectations of Intelligence in the Information Age

Lt Gen Michael Flynn DIA DirectorThe digital information revolution has handed the U.S. intelligence community a slew of new challenges that are nowhere close to resolution, a new study says.  The 21st-century problems range from mountains of data to accelerated pace of change to competing information flow from nongovernmental sources to fears of violating privacy and civil liberties, according to a paper “Expectations of Intelligence in the Information Age”  See GovExec article for highlights.

Decision makers will expect the Intelligence Community to validate and meld their information with that available in open source.

Army Doctrine via Collaborative Web Based Tools

The Army plans to have a new, easy-to-use method for Soldiers to access manuals and other military publications by 2015.

The new 10-page Army Doctrine Publications will be available on videos. The more detailed Army Doctrine Reference Publications will be on interactive computer-based training. The Army Training Publications will be on a MilWiki site, a collaborative website that enables Soldiers to participate in doctrine development. The system will allow Soldiers at any level to access Army doctrine, references, field manuals and technical publications through various different digital outlets. These outlets include DVD videos, interactive multimedia instruction videos and a wiki site allowing Soldiers to participate in doctrine development.

Integrating doctrine with digital applications will allow doctrinal resources to be readily available to Soldiers and provides a new approach to how doctrine is used to support education, training, and operations, he said.  Users can locate Army publications specific to their jobs from an easy-to-use hierarchical process.

The redesign focus was based on guidance from Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, who directed “a Doctrine Strategy to categorize our manuals differently, reduce their length, and number, and leverage emerging technology to make them more collaborative and accessible,”

By 2015, the Army plans to have only 50 field manuals on tactics and procedures. The rest of the doctrine will be in various pubs. The end result of Army Doctrine 2015 is to provide the user an easy way to access military publications via mobile devices, and other non-tradition methods, but the physical hard copies will still be available. It is expected the new streamlined system for delivering Army doctrine will be complete by 2015.

For more information, see Army Doctrine 2015