With the discussion around Making Actionable Sense I and II, I think we are really entering uncharted waters. That means tough questions are to be answered.
Ross Mayfield has kindly offered the use of a SocialText space to explore further. At the same time a good way for me to play around with Wiki’s.
Next to that I’ve been discussing this via e-mail with Lilia Efimova and Martin Roell.
Martin asks the following highly important questions:
Ok we should collaborate, or better we feel we want to, but why exactly should we do that? What are our individual goals? Do they match so much that we can actually be effective together?
Do we have enough overlap to be able to devote a sizeable amount of time and energy , and make it contribute to our work and results now? As with Martin my work is not research or writing, taking part in those are the extras. My current income comes from billeable projects and hours with clients, and that will be all the more demanding if I succeed in becoming an independent advisor.
Nevertheless those are the most obvious types of activities to collaborate on, research and writing, and the ones that open up new ways that will possibly provide income in the future.
Also let’s not forget that most of what we are blogging is the frontline of our thinking, and that in it’s turn is at the frontline of what is changing in the world.
Knowledge work and thought-leadership are much the same thing, I agree with David Gurteen.
A lot of us are not just early technology adopters, but early social adapters as well: in my view our thinking is already aiming to respond to changes that most people will not see on the horizon for years to come. And that is not because they are stupid and we are so bright, it’s just that it so happens that part of our abilities lie there.
Being at the frontline does not generate you business with main stream clients, especially the SME’s that form the bulk of them, even worse it might very well be frowned upon as idealistic, unrealistic, and ‘just not how the world works’. If it wasn’t for my international network of fellow bloggers and colleagues at KnowledgeBoard I by now would probably believe that I was the village idiot with my thoughts on KM, instead of becoming surer and surer that my ideas do hold value but that that value is still largely obscure to the general public and thus to our prospective clients.
So how do we find the overlap in our work we can do together, without taking a chunk out of current income? Either by doing it in spare time or by finding applications that pay now. Presenting subsets of bloggers as networks that collectively offer services might be a way of doing that. Hiring one of us then means hiring the network as a whole. A broad international experienced network that finds it’s geographically local outlet in one of the networks individuals.
Several initiatives I’m aware of implicitly or explicitly try to do that.
Personally I think this has potential as it combines the best of the independent single consultant (geared to the problem, not to off the shelf copies of previous solutions, flexible, versatile, agile) and the bigger consultancy organisations (authority by wider reputation, explicit bodies of knowledge e.g. toolkits), and might even turn out to be the basic enterprise model of the future: ad hoc virtual organisations of people from within a wider network, emerging around a specific question or issue, melting back into that wider network after the need has been fulfilled. These types of organisations are intrinsically geared to delivering value, not to merely furthering their own continuity. It’s the network that needs to survive and grow to sustain its individual members, the organisations are the blosoms on the tree (or less poetic but more to the point: the mushrooms on the mycelium).
Moving as a network requires some shared set of values (which I think are already partly present in the blogosphere) but it will give your (prospective) clients a better outlook on what to expect from you. Consultants are points of reference for clients, making the network visible gives them the consultants point of reference as well.
Do we have similar goals, probably some of us do, but not all of us, and not all the time. I am pretty sure however that that will not have to be an obstacle, as we are already in our blogs used to all of us having our own agendas. We acknowledge that in our blogging practice, and so it is already part of the built-in traits of our blogging ecosystems. We will have to identify the overlapping goals and build our thematic and ad-hoc organisations around that. We will then become part-time colleagues, and colleagues to others for different other portions of our time, while continuously being part of the larger network.