E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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IBM Software 2010 Congress Highlights – Existo, Luego Pienso by Eduard Punset

Eduard Punset at IBM Software 2010 CongressI am more and more convinced by the day that if we would want to transform the corporate world as we know it with Enterprise 2.0, how we work, how we cooperate AND collaborate with other knowledge workers, how we innovate, how we let social networks disrupt who we are, we need to start thinking more about incorporating into the mix other disciplines and fields than just technology and social business processes. Back in October I had the opportunity to witness just that at the IBM Software 2010 Congress when I attended live one of those rather thought-provoking and amazingly engaging presentations, I know I will remember for a long while, by one of those science communicators that you just cannot but admire dearly; of course, I am talking about Eduard Punset and his “I exist, therefore I think“.

There are plenty of highlights that I would want to go ahead and share with you folks over here about that IBM event I attended, and where I presented as well, although that would be something for another blog post, but I thought I would go ahead and share with you the one major highlight from that day, which was, obviously, getting wowed by Mr. Punset with such an amazing and inspiring presentation that is still lingering there, after a month and a half! As a starting point, no slides (Yes, no slides!!), just a handful of notes to check out and deliver an inspiring speech. The way it should always be, in my opinion!

Now, I realise how Punset’s presentation was delivered in Spanish, so perhaps most of the readers of this blog would probably be missing out on it altogether. However, I still think it would be a pity to let this opportunity go, just like that, by not sharing it across with a wider audience. I am sure not only would it help you polish, and perhaps, improve, your already existing Spanish skills, but at the same time I know you’d all be capable of grabbing some of the key concepts of what he talked about in a little bit over 30 minutes.

The fine folks of GlobbTV recorded the entire one day event, and we are lucky enough to have already Punset’s replay available to us all. The direct link to it can be found over here, and I am afraid you will have to go there and watch it through, because the embedded code is giving some trouble, apparently … But not to worry, go and watch it and then come back; we will continue further on …


Incredible, don’t you think? I am certain you enjoyed watching through it quite a bit! Wonderful insights altogether, to say the least! … Ok, ok, for those folks who may not have been capable of following it, I am going to dedicate the rest of this blog post to detail some of the major insights that Punset shared across during the presentation and which I think would be worth while sharing in the context of defining the Future of the WorkPlace, starting today!, as well as the role of Enterprise 2.0 in it, so you can have a glimpse of the amount of work we still have got left in helping that 2.0 transformation become a reality.

Emotion! How many times have you heard that word being used in a corporate environment? Not too often, right? And probably in most cases, with a negative connotation around it, which doesn’t encourage you to make much more extensive use of it, I know. Well, that was one of the main key concepts that he brought on to the table, and, most specifically, our inability to teach how to handle well that emotion in a corporate environment. He brought up wisely the subject of how Emotion, as well as Attention Management, are actually walking hand in hand to demonstrate how much we all strive for that social recognition and love from the rest of the world; how, essentially, what most of us are looking for out there is to be recognised; it’s the main motive behind everything we do for each individual AND collective group out there, which, put in the context of social engagement within Enterprise 2.0, I guess it does make perfect sense, raising one key question for which I don’t have an answer… where is the … money? Actually, I *do* have an answer. Better said, Dan Pink has an interesting answer altogether.

I am not going to spoil this one, seriously, but his views on the survival of our species throughout thousands of years is tremendously provocative and you should watch through the video to see how technology has been transforming such perception over the last 100 years. What’s interesting to notice though is how his perception of the survival of our species is probably what I would still consider today the cancer of the corporate world. Yes, I realise these are very strong words, but, believe me, what he described is something that I still see today, in 2010, all over the place. Sadly. That’s how far I can go describing that part of the video replay… the rest you will have to go through it yourself 😉 heh

It was interesting to see as well how he differentiates between resources and knowledge and how as much as we used to live on getting the most out of those resources around us, it looks like in the 21st century we are going to live, and depend!, pretty much upon our knowledge and how it will help meet our needs, both at work, and elsewhere. Rather interesting perspective, which, I guess, is going to be rather provocative on its own for those folks under Human Resources.

As examples detailing how much we are depending, AND benefiting!, from our intense exposure to knowledge, instead of just resources, Mr. Punset shared the piece of research done around the topic of the hippocampus from London’s taxi drivers and how they are much different than the one from ordinary citizens. This is where he shared one of my favourite quotes, of the year, perhaps, even!, that still resonates quite a lot with me. Paraphrasing and translating it into English, something along these lines:

“We are programmed to be unique due to our own individual experiences of each and everyone of us”

Another interesting insight I thought was worth while mentioning, and that I never thought about it in the past, was the one about our increasingly faster paced lives, specially, in the western world, where we seem to want everything happening really fast, even when forming our own families with our own offspring. That life and work integration become a challenge when something like pacing out yourself seems to be of the biggest benefit. Who would have thought that, according to research, it’s best to wait about 6 years in between your first, second, third, etc. child? Whoahhh! Truly fascinating!

Another wonderful quote that stuck with me and which I thought was rather interesting was his perception of how “If we can change the brain of people, we can change the world“, so perhaps our efforts should not be placed on changing the world itself, which we have been failing constantly over the last 4 or 5 decades, but perhaps we can start influencing such changes by changing the brain of people, which, again, in the context of Enterprise 2.0, that’s probably what most of us, social software evangelists, are doing, don’t you think? At least, that’s how I would like to see it; that we are not changing and transforming the world, but the brains of people into new ways of thinking, of doing things, of being, in reality. Good stuff! Like I said, I quite like that notion; you see? Enterprise 2.0, once again, not inventing anything new in here…

From there onwards we move forward into what I thought was *the* most provocative part of his speech, where he talked very clearly about emotion, once again, and how we seem to always be reaching out for that universal consensus in order to survive, which is the need to learn manage the diversity of a global world, because today’s world is not the same world as four decades ago, as he stated out clearly; and our ability to succeed in today’s society will have pretty much to do with how successfully we manage, in this diverse world, its various commonalities, i.e. its common ground, its emotions. Ourselves. Goodness! Is your head spinning already? Mine was at the time, I can tell you that!

Fascinating insights as well were his thoughts about the two main qualities of the knowledge worker of today’s workplace; something I never thought I would be able to be confronted with in such an interesting twist of who we are and how we interact with others:

  1. A certain self-esteem in oneself that would allow us to “deal” with our co-workers: basically, be secure enough to interact with others in a healthy, engaging and prosperous manner;
  2. Also you need to be treated well enough in order for you to stick around: yes, probably not much of a quality per se for a knowledge worker, but to me it came through as something along the lines of treating others like you would like to be treated. That way you will probably be sticking around, wherever you may well be, for a little while longer. Goodness, even *I* can relate to that one!

Punset didn’t say this specifically, but, to me, that’s *the* core essence of the emotional (social) networks AND communities at work that establish how we operate and who we are, as knowledge workers, in today’s corporate environment.

Finally, coming closer towards the end of his presentation he also talked about some of the new competencies for today’s world, not just from a work perspective, but also in our society, and, specially, for the younger generations who seem to focus their attention in “other” things (“Mom, don’t bother me, I am learning…“, remember?); well, it’s not about an attention deficit, it’s just that they are not interested in what you are doing, because what you are doing is antiquated; essentially, we haven’t managed to capture their attention accordingly!

Goodness! This is just *so* accurate. Scary, actually! Just look into our current education systems all over the world and how those younger generations get to learn on a daily basis, following last century’s old and obsolete models versus how they truly learn in today’s world, hooked up completely to technology to continue their own self-defined learning in context. Where did we go wrong, folks? His views on blocking access to Web sites or restrict the number of hours playing with gadgets or mobile devices are just incredibly provoking! Worth while listening to him in order to realise where we have been going wrong all along! We must change! And quick! That’s all I can say …

Equally interesting and enlightening were his various insights on the topic of the new citizens of the world, talking about younger generations’ deficits while at school. Apparently, we haven’t taught them to work in teams, to collaborate, to share their knowledge, to solve problems in an innovative manner; we haven’t taught them either about managing emotions (Specifically, anxiety). Oh boy, if we haven’t done any of that, and I truly believe that we haven’t, specially while at school, how can we inspire them to transform the way we work, collaborate, share our knowledge and, eventually, innovate with the emergence of Enterprise 2.0 as that powerful enabler we all know it is. Do we expect that it will come to them by itself? Just like the corporate world thought it would happen with email for most of us back in the day? Boy, I surely hope not! We shouldn’t be making the very same mistakes once again, don’t you think?

According to Punset, in order to tackle some of this, and I surely agree with him big time!, we must reconcile knowledge and entertainment (i.e. having fun) in order to learn AND achieve something; same thing for schools as well as for the corporate world; we must accept that there are more questions without answers than answers themselves; that when you don’t know the answer of a question, we need to avoid having that tendency to look for a conspiracy response. We would probably be much better off leaving those questions unanswered, at least, for now and perhaps aim for that “permanent equilibrium“, both at work and in our personal lives, that he kept referring to time and time again…

And that idea doesn’t seem to be too crazy for me either, don’t you think? What a lovely aftertaste to wrap up this blog post! Indeed! Like I said, you will have to watch through his presentation to witness some more true awesomeness. I am afraid that this blog post won’t probably do much justice to plenty of the stuff he shared with us. But I hope these few insights will help you get a glimpse of how unique that whole experience of being there was for yours truly! So much so, that it convinced to shape up, slightly different, how I would blog further on over here, touching base on subjects that would probably fall out, initially, of the Enterprise 2.0 angle, but that, in reality, affect us all of who we are as knowledge workers 2.0. And that doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing, after all, right? Somehow, I suspect that’s the immediate future of upcoming Enterprise 2.0 conferences as well, if they would still want to keep their momentum…

Are you up for it, too? I am …

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