Sunday, March 08, 2009

More Email on Gen Y

From a reader:

I think that the crux of your skepticism is reflected in this comment: "Another issue I have ... is that they emphasize collaborative technological tools but do not specify how these tools will enable people to make fundamentally better contributions than they might make through, say, face-to-face meetings, phone calls, or memos."

To me, this is the real question. A co-research[er] and I are exploring this through case studies of innovations that owe a large portion of their development success to Web 2.0 collaborative tools, including social networking and virtual worlds. We've just begun this research and are still looking for cases, but we've already learned there does seem to be some validity to the claim that these tools can be beneficial. I hope to be able to report back in a few months with a few examples.

Steve Gordon (


Thanks for reading and chiming in. Please know that it's not just me who is skeptical. I work and talk with many Boomers and Xers who belong to the "show me the money" faction in this discussion. Also, within NASA, it's not just about the electronic/communication collaboration. For a lot of folks it comes down to the hardware, the actual rockets that put astronauts into space. Marshall might be among the most conservative NASA centers from an engineering and cultural point of view, but they are not alone. Any engineering lead will need to be shown that online collaboration creates/created better rockets/spacecraft/widgets than empirically bending metal and turning wrenches on the shop floor.

I look forward to seeing the results of your research. Hard data is something that will very much "show me the money."


Doc said...

The engineers bending metal and turning wrenches have little use for these environments. But as they compromise only *part* of the workforce in question (the rest of whom spend all their days in countless meetings), the utility of collaborative environments can't be judged solely on their opinions/uses. Of *course* you can't build a real rocket with online conferencing. However, you can save the insane travel costs of having 20-50 people fly in to different centers to conduct milestone reviews, show off the latest shop innovations in California to the project leads in Alabama via telepresence, and share engineering data and CAD work in real-time to people in multiple locations.

Bartacus said...

Good points, Doc. I suspect that telepresence will get better and better because it will HAVE to.



Rolando said...

He has to read Wikinomics. This book covers a wide list of case studies. It is relatively old now, but it is still a good starting place.

Bartacus said...

Thanks, Rolando! I've thrown that onto the Amazon Wish List pile.