The next step

An emergent theme of my posts of late has been change. Whether that’s technology, user experience, reform of education, public sector and government, conferences or business (including my own), it’s a constant.

Deliberative democracy chat
Image by trib via Flickr

Equally, I’ve had many conversations in physical and virtual environments about change. Those conversations, to my very great benefit, have been with smart, motivated, interesting people – friends, peers and those I look up to.

Just yesterday, I was able to get deeply buried in several conversations about change at BarCamp Canberra 2010. This third Canberra BarCamp was far and away the best yet. Very balanced in its participant-generated program, issues of technology, the web, education, public sector reform and social innovation were openly and actively discussed. There’s no right or wrong, just great ideas (many available now on SlideShare).

One thing that emerged strongly from the sessions I was involved in – largely those on reform and social innovation – was raised in the first session of the day, Matt Moore’s deliberative democracy discussion on wicked problems. That problem is what I’m choosing to call next steps.

We all know it’s incredibly easy to discuss wicked problems. Equally, it’s near trivial (on a grand scale) to come up with solutions to them. We can define people, ideas, resources, finance and economics, social reforms and any number of other matters that will require resolution to solve these problems. It’s the next thing that’s the hard one, as I said in this tweet to Havas Media Lab director (and HBR blogger), Umair Haque.

It’s the next step, the tangible action, that’s wicked about all of these problems. And it’s next steps that we lack in solving all of the big problems we face. And it’s incumbent on all of us, in the sense of the Builder described in Haque’s The Builders’ Manifesto, to take next steps rather than simply engaging in conversation.

BarCamps, expos, conferences, summits. They’re all excellent places to begin solving the wicked problems. But we must take next steps.

For me, the biggest take away from BarCamp Canberra 2010 was DO. We must not just talk, we must be prepared to DO.

3 Replies to “The next step”

  1. I’m converted already. I mean, by DOING we create OUTCOMES. Ideas and plans are only worth the digital media they are recorded on. Having said this, we still value and need ideas and plans.

    We saw a lot of ideas come out of Barcamp yesterday. From ideas we build plans and from plans we take action:

    Ideas -> plans -> actions

    There are lots of ideas. Our communities and socially aware organisations often hold the best ideas and also have the grass-roots capacity to take innovation forward.

    However, it seems that ‘we’ are still somewhere between ideas and plans – moving back and forth, progressing slowly. (In some cases we are moving into actions bit by bit e.g. Gov 2.0 and some local community initiatives).

    Here is the key, in my mind: If ‘we’ can put the best ideas together into some sort of logical arguments and plans, and present these as well-considered solutions (strategies) to stakeholders (government, communities, private & ‘third’ sector organisations), then we have a better chance of generating actions based on those arguments and plans. Heh, sounds so simple when we say it like that! Now that reminds myself of the ‘less talking, more doing’ mantra. I know that I am preaching to the converted and in danger of committing gross hypocrisy, so I’ll get off the soapbox in a second.

    To borrow and highlight @trib’s words, “It is incumbent on ALL OF US … to take the next steps rather than just engage in conversation.”

  2. A lot of people talk at the conferences and that’s ALL they do. That’s why many times the people actually get things done are NOT at conferences :)

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