Reciprocity: The Word of 2011

Officially, Merriam-Webster defines the term ‘reciprocity’ as follows:

1)     the quality or state of being reciprocal : mutual dependence, action, or influence

2)     a mutual exchange of privileges; specifically : a recognition by one of two countries or institutions of the validity of licenses or privileges granted by the other

The Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary is more to the point I’m trying to make:

1)      behaviour in which two people or groups of people give each other help and advantages

I’d like to propose that 2011 be about reciprocity.

With all conceptions of Web 2.0 charging full steam ahead within our organizations and institutions, parading as Enterprise 2.0, Social Business and Learning 2.0, rather than myopically introducing cool technological bells and whistles we should first stop to address why it’s so cool in the first place.

It’s about reciprocity.

Those aforementioned bells and whistles are in fact cool. Be it instant messaging, video conferencing, presence, location services, blogging, micro-blogging, discussions forums and the like, they all bring to us a phenomenal ‘cool factor’ when we are first using them.

But shiny object syndrome is not why we’re introducing them in the first place.

It’s about reciprocity.

Whether you are a student in K-12 / Higher Education or whether you’re employed by the public or not-for-profit sectors, we all equally and mutually should uphold the premise that by giving to one another we are in fact both helping one another and gaining from said giving.

The tools and technologies that allow us to do this actually act as the glue that binds the reciprocity book together. We (as the purveyors of relationships and learning) are the pages, the words, the concepts and the theories.

It’s about reciprocity.

Each of us has an inherent responsibility to share, to collaborate, to give and to receive. In 2011, as new technologies, bells, whistles and gadgets come to market, we need not analyze solely their technological marvel and comparison, rather, we should adjudicate how it can help the capabilities of a team, a group, a class, or an organization to mutually gain from the experience of sharing, learning and giving with one another.

Too often over the past several years I hear of and witness intellectual camps staking territorial rights to the continental drift known as societal change. No one owns evolution.

The factor that has changed the game, however, in both our professional and personal lives, is reciprocity. Whether consciously or unconsciously we are beginning to share more of our intellectual and personal capital than ever before in our history. I don’t mind chocolate ice cream, but Neapolitan is a much better example of what we all should be striving for. Let’s work together to achieve a mutual state of sharing that commences with the three flavours in the box, call it reciprocity, and watch our taste buds soar.

Teacher and professor unions that don’t wish to evolve, academic administrations too tepid for change, NFP’s and Corporate companies stating costs as reasons for remaining steadfast in yesterday’s ways are all causes of isolated thinking. Let us first assert that a culture of sharing, giving, collaborating and learning is one in which we all (regardless of side or historical belief) will benefit and prosper from.

Regardless of your side, reciprocity is a mutual act. It benefits two parties, and it becomes the foundation for a better team, group, school, organization and society.

My 2011 is going to start first with a simple term known as ‘reciprocity’.

It’s about reciprocity.



'Reciprocity: The Word of 2011' have 3 comments

  1. 01/03/2011 @ 11:28 AM Bill Frederick

    IMO success has always been about reciprocity – I think it was Zig Zigler who said, ‘You can have anything you want if you help enough people get what they want’ (if that’s not reciprocity I don’t know what is). As you point out Dan, ‘a culture of sharing, giving, collaborating and learning is one in which we all (regardless of side or historical belief) will benefit and prosper from.’

    Successful brick-and-mortar businesses (for profit or not) have been doing this for years: the masses are just now getting on board – I’m not sure why it’s taken so long – web 2.0 is making it easier for them (and us) to serve a larger audience better and faster.

    In fact, Gary Vaynerchuk has a book coming out later this year, ‘The Thank You Economy’ about how businesses are succeeding and failing in reciprocity … might be worth reading.

  2. 01/06/2011 @ 11:27 AM Dan Pontefract

    Thanks @Bill for the comment, and the tip on Gary’s new book. Much appreciated.

  3. 03/01/2011 @ 6:14 PM Bill Ives

    Great post – my favorite word for many things long before the Web. – aligned with one of 10 rules from Moses. Thanks, Bill


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Dan Pontefract | dp at danpontefract dot com