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Navigating the new economy!
In this day and age of “new this” and “new that” the term “new economy” has been bandied around a lot. Going back 20 years (really it’s been that long?!?!?) the dot com boom was seen as the “new Economy” with its over turning of how business should/would be done. Well that era has been over for a while now and the stories of what happened have already been consigned to the history books. But what of now? What is the new economy now? Well I’m going to go out on a limb and say that collaboration is the way to go and this will be the latest definition of the “New Economy”. That’s not to say that the old economy will go away, just that there is a new kid in town that works in ways that the old economy can’t

Collaboration is nothing new. This is a model that has been widely used in the Open Source Software movement. With the rise of the internet, this model worked well for people all over the world to collaborate and produce a product based on a common goal. The successes of this movement now power a large proportion of the Internet itself. And the power behind these successes is simply a willingness of people to share their ideas and expertise – or to put it another way to invest and share their social capital in order to bring something worthwhile to life.

But collaboration is also a method that businesses can borrow and use to grow ideas and markets that otherwise would lay dormant. Bring a group of motivated people together who are willing to share their social capital and sure enough .. pretty soon you will have more ideas than you can poke a stick at. The trick of course is how do you bring all those people together? In the old economy, the large company hires the workers and pays them a salary in order to get together and create a product or service that marketing has identified as worthwhile to invest in – which is a top down approach and doesn’t involve any social capital. In the new economy, the motivated people come from all over the place in order to share ideas and expertise (i.e social capital) until something interesting springs into existence and presents itself as an opportunity to take to market – which is a bottom up approach. (Note that this does not imply that suitable financial checks and balances should be ignored!). But how do you bring those people together in the new economy? In order to do so you need a focal point or a catalyst of some sort, perhaps even a movement of like-minded people who believe in sharing ideas.

And that is where the Gangplank movement comes in. It is a method/movement/organization whose purpose is to bring people together so that they can interact and through the magic of collaboration bring new and interesting ideas, products and services to market in ways that the old economy can’t.

The movement itself grew about 6 years ago from a simple idea in Phoenix AZ on how to create jobs and improve the local community. But since its inception it has grown into non-profit organization that has had a large impact on the local economy. And that is power of collaboration!

Be Dangerous
I don’t think I can describe Gangplank any better than their own words. So quoting directly from the Gangplank manifesto:

Manifesto
We are a group of connected individuals and small businesses creating an economy of innovation and creativity. We envision a new economic engine comprised of collaboration and community, in contrast to the silos and secrecy left by the dependence on tourism and land development.

We have the talent. We just need to work together. Different environments need to overlap, to connect and to interact in order to transform our culture. In order to create a sustainable community based on trust, we value:

  • collaboration over competition
  • community over agendas
  • participation over observation
  • doing over saying
  • friendship over formality
  • boldness over assurance
  • learning over expertise
  • people over personalities

This new economy cannot thrive without engaging the larger business, creative, entrepreneurial, governmental, and technical communities together.

We believe that innovation breeds innovation. We will transform our culture into one supportive of the entrepreneurial spirit, of risk taking, of pioneering into the unknown territories as the founders of our municipalities once did. This requires education, entrepreneurship and creative workspaces.

We are Gangplank.

What else can you say to something like that?

What about my share of the booty?
So that was a small potted history of the Gangplank movement. But why am I involved and what do I hope to get out of it? Simply put:

  • I am involved because I want to associate with like-minded people.
  • I have no idea what I will get out of this. It’s a leap of faith that collaboration is the way to go.

Charting a course
There is lots of information about the Gangplank movement on the Internets. The best place to start is the eponymous What is Gangplank? This site has a great amount of information on things like how the movement got started, social capital and scalability.

The Gangplank headquarters can be found on the web at: Gangplank HQ and has additional information about the movement.

The specific group that I am a part of is Gangplank Henrico – which is also where I am writing this blog! They can be found on the ‘net in several different forms and locations:

Web: http://henrico.gangplankhq.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GPHenrico

Google Groups: http://groups.google.com/group/gangplank-henrico

and Twitter: @GPHenricoCity

Ciao Bella
Well its been another great day to post on here.
Hope you are all enjoying this!
Peter.

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