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An American Evolution

Many of us wish we could just go back in time, before all this turmoil started. Before the mortgages went bad, before the stock market tanked, before the massive layoffs. But, there is no going back, only forward. Whatever happens we will not be returning to the naiveté (or complicit denial) in which this arose.

This is a Phoenix and Ashes scenario.

Obama is hard at work. But, he and his team cannot do this alone. Change leadership must spread. We need sparkling examples of new ways of working.  Innovation, practical innovation is necessary.  Hand-in-hand with hope, there is a call out to visionaries both grand and humble.

My friend, Neil Olonoff, and I were talking recently about a new, American Evolution. Neil is the Chairman of the Federal Knowledge Management Initiative Committee and they have a plan. By the way, this committee is not a government agency, but an affiliation of true believers in Knowledge Management (KM) in both private and public sector roles.

Neil and I pondered, Who is squinting into the fog, imagining America 5.0?  
America 1.0 = pre-revolution for independence
America 2.0 = post-revolution
America 3.0 = post-Civil War
America 4.0 = post WWII 

Neil says, "Government has to evolve, embracing collaboration for greater productivity. Isolated stovepipes need to open meaningful conversations with external stakeholders. Slow processes must be streamlined and accelerated. Efficient government action is vital to the health of our economy, and rebuilding the strength of the nation. Our plan will help them succeed."

The committee recently delivered a letter to the White House recommending a Federal Knowledge Management Center to ensure that government activities are managed efficiently, using best practices, lessons learned, and collaborative systems.

Having worked in several large-scale Knowledge Management (KM) programs, it is easy to understand the value a KM effort would bring to our country in this challenging, overwhelming time. You can read the letter by visiting the committee’s wiki, hosted by NASA

I have not yet seen a well-spring of corporate initiatives. What about CitiBank? General Motors? The big guys who are getting so much bad press? Why are there not radical, new ideas in the media demonstrating that they are thinking out of the box, leading us into the new American Evolution?

And what about the little guys – the rest of us? Shouldn’t we be meeting in our living rooms and putting all our pent-up anxiety (and rage) to work? There is real fuel for a fire, especially with over 12 million now unemployed.

It’s time to shift the mountain. The mountain is a metaphor for a mental model that is so large it is immovable. It becomes everything, even to the point of obscuring the view. It is almost impossible to let go. Yet, spring is almost here (just 10 days away). And the early spring brings the tiniest signals, little flowers that sprout as beacons: snowdrops, crocuses, dewberries. Their appearance breaks through the cold, bleak days in the north, alerting us to new life. The world is telling us, it is time to shift the mountain.

- Seth Kahan,