The challenge for a Smarter Planet

I was just reading James Governor’s interesting post on Monkchips (Redmonk) about a Smarter Planet; an initiative IBM has been sharing recently about working together to address important global healthcare, energy, and economic problems, amongst others (full disclosure – I  work for them.) IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano said about Smarter Planet:

“We need to practice a new form of leadership. Think about these systems, no one owns the systems. Which is part of the complexity of driving the change to make them more effective. So, to make this happen, you need collaboration. Everyone has to come out of their lanes, it’s true for business and for politicians and academic organizations. People have to come together and form these partnerships of collaboration to work together to solve these problems. And yes, they are going to have to move out of their comfort zones.”

So it gets you thinking, “what does that mean for me?” Mike Wing writes on the IBM Smarter Planet Blog

I’d suggest three ways:

  1. Go Web 2.0. Embrace the long tail.
  2. Look at your own area of responsibility through the lens of ‘smarter planet,’ and see what this frame lights up… what it transforms… what it could expand.
  3. Personally engage in the big-picture societal work that is newly possible.

Sam’s speeches so far have been directed to leaders. For them, the challenge is to seize this moment, to embrace the world’s eagerness for change and use it to be bold, game-changing.

But as families, as neighbors, as employees, as partners, as suppliers, as scholars, as global citizens… we can seize the same opportunity, too – the chance to change our lives, our work, our communities, our future. And the way to do that is to participate, to co-create, to network, to jam. The key is to understand that these amazing new capabilities make the planet’s infrastructure available to the individual, to every individual, without regard to wealth or physical location or power.”

I’m personally inspired to see where this might all lead. It’s exciting to be part of projects where people chip in their time to share knowledge, new ideas, finances and capability to make a difference. And right now, it’s happening in a rapid and dynamic way, aided by technology. Recently I caught an episode of Iconoclasts featuring Dean Kamen and Isabella Rosselini (2006). Kamen reflects on invention and his passion Life is so short. Why waste a single day of it doing something that doesn’t matter, that doesn’t try to do something big?”


I think what IBM is articulating is an opportunity for each one of us to take stock of our world, then to dream, imagine and to take intelligent action, now.  I bet you have more to offer than you even realize :)

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