With regards to the way brands collaborate with one another, EMC and Cisco are leading the charge in my opinion, identifying new ways to partner and lay the foundation for the future. To that end, I was humbled when asked to present this week to Cisco employees via CiscoTV. The topic - EMC's journey in Social Media.
One of the topics covered was the transformation of today's workforce. We discussed the behavioral changes that were likely as the world explores new ways to work and collaborate. I had the pleasure of connecting with fellow guest-speaker Dr. Kit Yarrow (@GenBuy), co-author of the book Gen Buy. She and I talked a bit about knowledge capital, and our discussion is the foundation for this post.
As a workforce, I'd suggest that we're still wired to the notion of information protectionism. In other words, if I have information in my head that no one else does, then I am exponentially of more value to my employer. I am more secure with regards to my job, and am inherently more depended upon by my peers.
To me, this is among our first stops with regards to core behavioral change. I am of the mindset that sharing = better. And that, by empowering others with the knowledge I've collected, I actually free myself to continue my own exploration and growth. It becomes cyclical - I learn, pass along, enable / empower others, and continue my path of learning and sharing. In the process, knowledge spreads, and the value of the workforce at large increases.
So - how does this tie into the Grateful Dead? During our discussion, Dr. Yarrow referenced the article "Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead" by Joshua Green of The Atlantic. It's a good read - and makes some interesting ties between the Dead's early approach to growth and business tactics.
What struck me was how the band leveraged the power of crowd to spread their 'knowledge capital' (In this example, their music). They didn't take the still typical approach of protection in the interest of revenue - rather, they encouraged the free sharing of information amongst the community.
They embraced those with tape recorders (remember those?), and encouraged fans to capture their music and share with their friends. In turn, friends would share with their friends, and so-on.
History speaks for itself. The approach didn't result in the demise of the band... Quite the opposite.
As we embark on our journey into tomorrow, I believe the notion of open-sharing of knowledge is among the core human behaviors we need to work on. We need to help employees understand that sharing doesn't mean their value decreases, rather it is a component of enablement, and, done right, actually frees the individual up to learn and do more, while growing as an individual and adding increasing value to their employer.