Mary Boone got our afternoon sessions under way with an extended interactive workshop on “Tapping Collective Intelligence.” Mary in president of Boone Associates and an award-winning communication consultant and writer.
Mary sees a paradigm shift in progress in the communication world — from the Information Age to the Collaboration Age. “This change is taking us away from storing, accessing, manipulating and transferring,” Mary explained, “to sharing, integrating and co-creating.”
The Information Age is characterized by smart machines, traditional organizations, stovepipes and a need to know. Its metaphor is process and its context is complicated. The Collaboration Age is marked by smart networks, fluid networks, permeable boundaries and high transparency. Its metaphor is the network and its context is complex. This means a shift from broadcast communications, with its emphasis on “tell and sell,” to interactive communications, with its emphasis on “ask and engage.”
In the organizational environment, this has brought about a rethinking of meetings — events where things are not just discussed but work actually gets done.
The old approach to meetings had top-down formats, control from the stage, a largely face-to-face experience, and an emphasis on talk and messaging. In the new approach, meetings include peer-to-peer discussions, power sharing, an integrated pre- and post format, and an emphasis on engagement and action.
“To get to this new kind of meeting,” Mary said, “I think we need a new discipline. I’m combining the various skills that I have to help bring about this change. I think we need a balanced combination of all types of information sharing to make this work: intrapersonal, lateral, interpersonal, broadcast, and feedback.”
Mary talked about the “unconference” approach that uses the well-established large-group methods of “crowd-sourcing.”
“For these methods to be effective,” she said, “you need an understanding of your purpose and an understanding of your participants.”
To give the workshop participants the hands-on experience they need to fully appreciate the effectiveness of this new approach to meetings, Mary invited them to break into small groups to address current communication issues that were selected by CCM members in a survey Mary ran prior to the conference.