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Hackathon Pilot: The Global Weave by Steve Todd

by Chris Grams on April 15, 2011


chris-grams's picture

Hackathon Pilot: The Global Weave by Steve Todd

A few weeks ago, we kicked off the Hackathon Pilot, an experiment enabling passionate MIXers to collaboratively "write the chapter" on how to enable communities of passion within our organizations (learn more about the pilot here and here). This is the second post in a series where pilot members have synthesized some of our learnings from Sprint #1. Today's synthesis post comes from EMC's Steve Todd.

The Global Weave
by Steve Todd

When Chris Grams sounded the call for Sprint #1 in our MIX community, he asked us to share some of our favorite communities of passion (whether we belonged to them or not).

From my viewpoint as a catalyst for global innovation within my company, I have my own bias as to what inspires passionate communities.

I like to call it “the global weave”.

Are you familiar with the term “shuttle”?  It’s a weaving term. To quote Wikipedia, a shuttle is “thrown or passed back and forth through the shed, between the yarn threads of the warp in order to weave in the weft”.  Successful global communities are like a shuttle that passes hands between international participants, weaving together something new.

Who doesn’t like innovation? Who doesn’t want to start with a blank sheet of paper and sketch out the “next big thing”? It’s exciting. We’ve all done it.

When it’s done globally, however, our experience goes from “exciting” to “surreal”. The weaving together of cultures, time zones, perspectives, and educational backgrounds gives rise to an end result that goes beyond our original expectations. The process itself is often more engaging than the finished product.

Perhaps it’s a result of our love of travel.  Building international relationships gives rise to the hope that “maybe we’ll be able to meet in person someday”. Perhaps it’s our love of learning. When we collaborate with new international friends, we begin to understand just how much we don’t know about our world (and about each other).

So I jumped in right away with my contribution (which has an international feel to it). As I sat back to watch the results flow in, I wondered if others would feel the same way I do.

And then the first three entries came in.

I was not disappointed.

Global Communities Everywhere

Take a look at the very first entry (submitted by Michele Zanini):

The next entry came in. I read the following about the Fedora Documentation Project  (submitted by Sam Folk-Williams):

“The Fedora Project is the name of a worldwide community of people who love, use, and build free software from around the globe”.

Right after Sam was Ben Willis, who told us all about Note the very first line on the Kiva community home page:

“Empower people around the world with a $25 loan”.

I won’t list every type and kind of global entry, but I encourage you to study them for yourself. The breadth and depth of global collaboration is evident.

Bring the World Into the MIX

I’ve seen the power of this opportunity to connect globally in my own work. My company, EMC, rewards high-achieving innovators by assigning them as “adopters” to geographies such as Russia, China, India, Ireland, Egypt, and Israel (Brazil will be on the list soon). Each adopter serves as a consultant and mentor to employees in a specific part of the world. The chance to collaborate (and perhaps travel) internationally is a strong incentive and a great reward.

As we brainstorm new ways of managing our employees, I find it amazing that we’re already considering the global angle. Viewing the variety of submissions really drove this point home for me.

Onward to Sprint #2!

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sam-folk-williams's picture
Steve - interesting angle you've brought out here. I also work for a global company, and collaborating with people all over the world is a very normal part of my life. I suspect this is true for many these days, whether in work or outside of work. I'm thinking, though, that these communities would all necessarily be based around the internet. I've thought of a couple more examples since sprint #1 ended, and some of those are actually on the hyper-local end. For example, a neighborhood association in my city of Minneapolis, MN. Sending emails is about as high-tech as these guys get, and the members all live within a square mile of each other. It would be interesting to look more closely at the global vs. local dynamic here.
deborah-mills-scofield's picture
Steve - thank you for a terrific summary of what we're trying to do - you distilled it down - curious to see what comes out of Sprint 2!