Welcome to the New Era of Collaboration

The new era is here.

Stakeholders are more concerned about corporate social responsibility. Transparency of organisations is getting higher. Customers’ purchasing choices are getting more diverse. Book retail outlets have more (sub-)sections in their categorisation, with increased customers looking for specific titles than in the past. Knowledge is more commonly sought after via the Internet than in bookstores or the libraries- especially among the Gen-Ys. Online transactions – be it online banking or booking of movie tickets are now a prevalent and common practice. Libraries are turning more of the hard copy books that they have into E-book format or for online reading. In the fields of education, teamwork and group collaborations are more heavily emphasised in the classrooms. Google Docs are becoming more popular, further indicating that increased collaboration are happening – both in the classrooms and in the workplace. Mobile phones are getting more sophisticated:  Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) , Short Message System (SMS) and Mobile Web (with access to the Facebook Website being a common practice) being the most commonly utilised applications. More educators are taking on the role of  lesson facilitators (where student are encouraged and gradually guided to become self-directed learners and making meaning out of the lessons on their own through teaching techniques such as experiential learning and reflective writing).  Students and working professionals are checking out information on Wikipedia.  Bloggers are blogging about their daily life experiences, expertise and insights online for the online world to see.

Knowledge sharing is here to stay and mass collaboration is key in this era.

We can already see this happening in the areas of knowledge creation on numerous websites. Wikipedia is a good example of how people collaborate on a global scale to provide information for all.  LinkedIn is another example where working professionals network online to advance their careers. Facebook, Youtube , MySpace, Flickr and Picasa are closing the gaps by enabling knowledge sharing through photos and videos.  In the gaming arena, Second Life symbolises interaction and collaboration among gamers in the virtual world.

We are getting ever closer to Marshall McLuhan ‘s notion of the “global village“.

Indeed, within a few years, information and knowledge sharing is increasing very rapidly – to the point that educators are questioning their teaching methodology/pedagogy, businesses are having their doubts about their existing business models, advertisers are re-examining the ways that they advertise and promote their brands, publishing firms are re-establishing the book titles that will be published, students are investigating the various ways to learn (when rote learning have either been deemed passé or gone the way of the dinosaurs), more entrepreneurs than before are joining the workforce with an increased niche and demand for diverse talents, talents are collaborating (authors are working with story narrators for audio books, established singers are teaming up with upcoming newbies to increase their fan base, two authors are collaborating on a novel etc), talent management is an area of concern for most organisations and gamers are seeing a massive collaboration among game designers on a global scale.

The workings of the world are changing drastically and a major metamorphosis is taking place right now – and somehow we happen to be standing right in the middle of it. It’s like having celebratory fireworks going off all around us. At this point in time, not all of us will hear the sounds or see fireworks but it will not be long before most of us will come to a realisation that a great positive change is about to happen – an unprecedented change for the better since the Industrial Revolution.  The internet brought with it the Information Age/Era. But this change is different. This change will transcend the information age and what will result will be a massive collaboration among the masses to make this world a better place to live in.

Let’s call this era the “Collaboration Era” – where collaboration is KEY.

This is already happening. Editors are teaming up with writers and photographers/photojournalists to pen feature writing pieces, entrepreneurs/consultants are collaborating with organisations on a short-term /long-term/project basis to improve them, online gamers are collaborating in teams on multiplayer platforms for gaming titles such as Defense of the Ancients (DotA) and academic professors are collaborating with one another on projects via digital devices such as video-conferencing and emails.

So what does all these changes entail?

I predict that the following will take place within the next five to fifteen years:

  • Interpersonal, Intrapersonal and Emotional Quotient (EQ) skills will be the most essential skill sets required for this era: I feel that there is a flip side to using technology as mentioned in my blog here (and which I still maintain my stand) and I also feel that there is no denying that personal communication is still required for collaboration to take place. However, although technology has become a barrier to communication when the entire correspondence is dependent on it,  it can conveniently be used to establish a meet-up session for a more in-depth discussion. However, the important point to highlight here is what happens during the face-to-face meet-up session(s).  Communication skills are still required to built and improve rapport with others over time. Any individuals or organisation that is able to provide guidance and/or training in this area will thrive in the coming years. There will probably in a gradual increase in training consultancies for the next few years. 
  • Popularity and demand for books of a more analytical, investigative and experiential nature will be higher than the rest: Contrary to what some feel about the diminishing demand for hard copy books (after having observed the drop in sales for print media), I feel that hard copy books are here to stay- at least for quite a while. Experiencing eye strains while reading online is a common ailment befalling regular online surfers and this problem is not going to go away for a while. And there’s something about the linear progression when reading a novel that will kind of stick with hard copy book readers.  Printing quality and layout has improved over the years and now it’s almost challenging to find a children story that is boring (as in lack of illustrations and pictures; content for some books can still be quite boring)! More significantly, there will be an increased demand for books of an analytical and investigative nature – such as those which identifies a new business trends (finding great online gaming platforms, creating niche marketing, forming digital footprints, discovering experiential tourism), focuses on identifying key psychological issues [Emotional Quotient,  understanding consumers’  consumption habits , exploring the effectiveness of intuition, examining the personal branding of an entrepreneur etc] or of a more spiritual nature [yoga, pilates, eastern philosophy, meditation,  psychology, philosophy etc]. Book/E-book consumers will no longer be satisfied with a typical book lying on their study table. Demand for books which help them keep up with the times and enable them to live more fulfilling lives will be in great demand in the years to come.
  • No working professionals will work on a solitary basis from now on.  Collaboration is key: The solitary worker model will no longer be a feasible work model. Collaboration will soon take over and this collaboration will not be limited by any geographical restrictions. Diverse talents will come together to create masterpieces in areas of their expertise: architects building monumental structures, engineers convening in a meeting to create a cost-effective car, educators sharing their insights on their teaching experiences to better their teaching expertise and global speakers organising conferences around the world to increase awareness of environmental conservation and the like. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is one relevant website showcasing global speakers coming together to make presentations to make this world a better place. These speakers are often considered to be thought leaders in their field of expertise. You can view the videos here.  Have an insightful time!
  • More entrepreneurs will make their mark in the workplace: I have mentioned that no working professionals will work alone from now on. However, this does not mean that entrepreneurs will lose their edge in their personal branding. It merely means that entrepreneurs will have to promote their work within a community of individuals who are interested in what they have to offer. For instance, Garr Reynolds has guided many in the preparations of  presentation slides. You can view his website here and his blog here.  The term “Presentation Zen” has since become known almost on a global scale. If you are doubtful, just type “Presentation Zen” into any search engines and see for yourself. Some bloggers have also made their mark based on their topic of their blogs. For instance, Scott Schuman became a famous fashion blogger with his blog The Satorialist (selected as Time magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers). The content has also since been published as a book with an eponymous title and made available to the masses.
  • Leaving digital footprints online will be an essential practice for working professionals, especially when it comes to the personal branding of entrepreneurs and organisation branding: Digital footprints will be prevalent in the coming years. Numerous media articles are already written on the importance of paying attention to one’s digital footprints. Employers are also beginning to look for potential job candidates’ digital footprints prior to hiring them for the job. Whether it is a boon or a bane, it depends on one’s perspective. On a more positive note, if one maintains a good reputation and creates trust between their clients and themselves (especially for budding entrepreneurs) , creating positive digital footprints may well be the bridge between their potential customers and themselves. For organisations, it works the same way in branding their companies. At the end of the day, sincerity and dedication plays a determining role in making their efforts a success.
  • There will be an increased mix of global talents in any developing and developed countries: Talents from various countries will move on a global scale to countries where their talents are needed. With an improvement in travel transportation, digital technology and organisations looking for foreign talent, geographical restrictions will no longer be a factor. The main driving force of the global economy will be determined by the contributions of these talents in their respective fields. Cross-cultural communication will thus become a mandatory module for most educational institutions around the globe. While previously it may have been offered to students as an elective, this topic will gradually be integrated into the main curriculum of most fields of study, especially in the areas of business, mass communication, psychology and the like. This talent movement will also include the staffing arrangements made in academic institutions, where professors and other academics will be invited to the institutions as visiting scholars/academics or positions of similar capacity.  
  • Availability of digital equipment to students from developing countries will be more forthcoming and the rate of media literacy among these students will rise: With increased connection between non-profit organisations and an increased awareness of world poverty and corporate social responsibilities, more non-profit organisations will be better prepared to direct donated education funds to children of developing countries to provide them with education (often considered to be the lifeblood of one who wish to make good of one’s life).  Going beyond education, contributions includes the provision of lessons on being tech-savvy, understanding and applying media literacy in their learning and the enhancement of their creativity skills. 
  • Teaching environments will gradually move from conventional classroom settings to outdoor experiential learning and teaching methodology and pedagogy will shift from a teacher-focused approach to a student-centric model: With the de-emphasis on a “top-down”, teacher-focused approach in student learning and a gradual shift to a student-centric learning model, a confined learning environment such as a classroom seems irrelevant in contemporary times. In fact, this is already happening – with some educators opting to conduct lessons outside their classrooms with their students (but still within school premises for safety reasons). Of course, this has to happen with the permission given by the respective educational institutions that they are employed.  Some lessons are also conducted in the library where a certain amount of noise is permitted within some of its premises and usually where there are digital equipment readily available for the students to make lesson presentations to their teachers and peers.

The world is changing, and it is vital that we keep up with the times as this change is going to affect our lives – every aspect of it.

Are you ready for the change?

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