Time for Some Action

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

good intentions

We have Clary Shirky talking about Cognitive Surplus and the distinction between communal benefit and civic benefit when it comes to collaborative action.  We have Daniel Pink talking about Drive and the search for meaning which inspired me to write about the Purpose Bubble.  And just last week here on the IISC Blog, my friend and colleague Curtis Ogden was talking about the need “to recognize the change capacity of the marketplace” and creating mechanisms to reclaim markets.

It is with this context in mind that I finally get to the Lloyd Nimetz opinion piece in the Stanford Social Inntovation Review – “Information Overload, Action Deficit.”  Nimetz makes the bold statement that “[t]he largest pool of untapped resources in the world today is humans’ good intentions that don’t translate into action.”  And I agree with him.  I also agree with him when he states that “[w]e’re slowly going to enter another phase of the information revolution, the age of ‘intelligent and organized action’.” And I can barely wait for it.

Nimetz reminds us that “most non-profit organizations spend 99% of their mindshare thinking about how to raise money but very little time thinking about how to mobilize people to take impactful action.”  And perhaps that’s not a totally fair statement – but we get the point.  Nonprofit leaders might be thinking about action, but not enough of us are taking the new context into account, few of us can fully understand the way everything has really changed.

Here at IISC we have had long debates seeking to understand the differences between our tried and true collaborative methodology and the work building networks for action.  The Taylor/Plastrik distinctions among connectivity, alignment and production networks have become very helpful.  But the fact is people want to act.  It is frustrating to be continually overwhelmed with information while only finding the same old levers for action.  There are emergent ways to collaborate; our creativity is being called forth as we are invited to catalyze the new cognitive surplus for our age.

Many of us are in search of meaning, many of us are more and more attune to the feeling that something is terribly wrong and something badly needs to change – we are ready to act, this is the time to find a way.

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  • Curtis says:

    Thanks, G! Thought provoking stuff here. I’m wondering if a lot of our attention deficit these days is about being sucked into the world of possibility on the web and other media and being turned away from the needs and opportunities right in front of us. I’m struck in my work with the New England Grassroots Environment Fund by the number of “under the radar” citizen actions out there that are growing local food, generating local energy, all while we watch the climate bill go down in Congress. So little local action gets reported. If it did, perhaps we would see more of it. I also think there is something to Venessa Miemis’ observation that connectivity is one step, being mindful and present for action is the next. So yes, let’s praise our access to information and let’s get going!

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