Collaboration as the New ‘New’ Thing?

December 28, 2009

Thom Singer’s excellent blog Some Assembly Required has been in my top 3 job search tips before, but I’m copying his full post on collaboration as we approach the end of this decade and look to a new year and decade ahead.

Collaboration is a great word – very positive, fun to say (it is – say it 3 times quickly) and has the best connotation (although one of the definitions is “the act of cooperating as a traitor, especially with an enemy occupying one’s own country” – well, never mind that one.)
It means the act of working with another or others on a joint project or something created by working jointly with another or others.

Working with other people. So is another popular word you’ve been hearing a lot of, especially if you’re in transition: Networking. These two words go hand in hand. Thom’s post digs into the buzz around the ‘C’ word here and points out some interesting facts.

2010 is being predicted to be “The Year of Collaboration”. The social media exerts are ringing the praises of this emerging area of sharing and creating as a new dawning of the ages.

The buzz around Google Wave and other tools that promote the ability for folks to openly share their projects and get useful input and feed back into their work is exciting…. but is it really a sociological sea change?

Some things lend themselves to an open source model, other things do not. Some people are open to sharing, others are not. Without the right connections and reputation, none of the tools will matter to the random user wanting input. The power here goes back to your network, brand, reputation and ability to create community. We will see the “Collaboration Elite” emerge much like we have seen the celebrities on Twitter and other social media platforms.

I believe the attention on the collaboration movement is more about the cool tools and the super-users than it is about the projects that will come from the collaborations. The process will work well for those who live and breath social media (but it already does work for those people) …. but will not flow quickly beyond those who are early adopters. Many in the greater business community are still avoiding the social media tools (the 2009 buzzy flavor of the month) and making excuses as to why they they will not use LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter… they are hardly ready to join a mass collaboration movement (thus it will be fun and useful for those who are the social media gurus and mass users…and it will give them new things to talk about… but this not an change in society).

The best of the best have always collaborated with others (regardless of industry). The tools were not the sexy part, instead the creating of something bigger than the individuals could have ever done alone was the “wow” part. This is hardly new.

Also, open collaboration is a great concept when all the players are share the same morals when it comes to the “rising tide raises all boats” concepts… but there is still the need to monetize projects,…. and greed (and selfish people) will not disappear in the new year.

Part of this becoming the “hot topic” is that there is always a need for a “hot topic”. Bloggers cannot keep writing about Twitter and Facebook in the new year …. as these have been done to death.

“Collaboration” is the new new thing. But is it?

Have A Great Day


By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

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Who’s Getting Hired? Some Good Advice

October 14, 2009

Last night’s event at St. Mary’s College was well attended despite the weather – even better was the content from the four panelists giving their perspective on the current job market. SMC MBA Alum Chance Curtiss moderated the panel with insightful – and humorous- questions and observations. Here’s a brief summary of the evening:

Jeff Tavanger from the Armada Group was pretty bullish from an IT professional view, showing the statistics over the past several years of jobs and the type of positions in IT that continue to be in demand. He also pointed out the value of soft skills in standing out among candidates.
Marty Chuck gave an ‘Inside the CIO’s Head’ vantage of the market, echoing Jeff’s assessment and adding more based on his background as a leader at HP, Agilent and most recently EA as CIO, which he joked stands for ‘Career is Over’. His message was that bedrock values, a focus on excellence and good people skills remain top of mind for chief executives.
Ted Cwiek, Assistant Administrator and HR Director for Contra Costa County described the very different world of government hiring practices, and in particular the continued demand for healthcare jobs and the unique requirements to get civil service jobs in California. He also pointed out that unlike private sector companies, labor leaders can – and do – call up the political board of directors – elected officials – and threaten them if they don’t get their way.

Tom Toy represented the VC community and had a bit of fun with his tips:
Networking is a lifetime career activity (Amen)
– Use formal networking
– Use Informal networking (most effective)
– Create your own ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ of close advisers who will keep you honest
-Use the internet for searching facts, but not exclusively to find jobs (yep, use networking for that)
– Be very proficient with the social networks
-Use the Rule of 100 (1/3 of your network are jerks, 1/3 want to help but are busy, and 1/3 will help you however they can – focus on those last 2/3rds!)

The questions from the audience were excellent and the panel stayed around for an additional 30 minutes to talk individually with attendees, most of whom are in transition. We also had a lot of members from CPC Job Connections join us.
My take away was that without exception, all emphasized the need to network using unorthodox methods to differentiate yourself and that the ability to communicate well – soft skills – are more important than ever.

Stay tuned for the follow up to this event on October 27th: Jump Start Your Job Search Workshop.