April 8, 2010

Open Spaces, Open Minds Redux (An Open 2.0 Culture)

In the title of this post, I’m paying homage to Dr. Don Morgenson, professor emeritus of psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Recently, Dr. Morgenson wrote an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail entitled “Open Spaces, Open Minds”. In it, he cringes at the uprising of physical fences in our neighbourhoods and as a general consequence, the closing off of our minds, our ideas, our innovation, our future.

NIMBY now takes physical form, with most backyards today inaccessible. Clearly, some of this territoriality results from fear – of thieves, burglars and more, but the symbolic aspects of these changes may indicate not merely closing off properties but as (John) Updike suggests, a closing of minds.

I could not help but think that the fence in Morgenson’s piece is analogous to the business unit silos in today’s organization.

Organizational silos occur not from thieves and burglars, but from apathy, hierarchy, red tape and fear.

I can’t think of a single benefit when it comes to organizational silos. It is another example of how we are closing our minds, walling our innovation, and foregoing a more productive and networked organization.

Morgenson goes on to write:

Great nations have become great partly because of accessibility: the central notion of preserving wide open spaces for all, but also they have sought the preservation of wide open minds. Very simply, such openness stimulates the imagination, promotes new ideas, new approaches to old problems, and creates new communities, all of which ensure the growth and development of the country itself.

This astute professor is first suggesting that we, as a society (at least in Canada) are closing our minds and becoming territorial as we erect fences in our neighbourhoods, shutting ourselves from the imaginations of each other. Subsequently, to remedy the issue, we need to set fire to the fences and re-establish the open neighbourhood.

Enterprise 2.0, Social Learning, Learnerprise, whatever you want to call it, clearly articulates that an open 2.0 culture can and will instil said openness, imagination, growth, and promotion of ideas and innovation.

A reclamation process must begin. We must reclaim our generosity, our openness, our accessibility as individuals. The solution to fenced-in minds is to bring the fences down, bringing us together, as this great nation’s people.

I wholeheartedly agree. Our organizations need to embrace the open culture, Enterprise 2.0, Social Learning, Media and Networking; not because it’s cool but because it stimulates the very growth of the organization through open borders, broken silos, and connected people.

If the C-Suite is looking for ROI, let’s not prove it by return on investment, but by return on intelligence. The intelligence being returned to the organization through an open culture, leading to innovation, engagement and overarching profitability.

Our reclamation process must begin. It’s the reclamation of an open, networked, and dare I say wirearchical organization.

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