Leading in a Changing World, Thanks to Technology

After eight weeks spent pondering and reflecting about the effects of technological transformations to the historical approaches of leadership, I was heartened to read Michele Martin’s 2015 piece about the changing nature of leadership in the new millennium. I was glad to see that Martin (2015) wrote about and Tanmay Vora (2015) sketched out (image below) the skills needed by people (not just workers) and leaders to succeed and thrive in a world where our attention and priorities are constantly distracted thanks to technology. These leadership skills or traits of having the ability to connect with others, being able to concentrate and/or focus deeply when needed, and the ability to distinguish between the “noise” and the message in the ever-growing sea of information among others are also the same ideas and values that I have advocated for in my own organization. As I was reading Martin’s (2015) article and Peter Drucker’s quote about leaders doing the right things, it reminded me of Chris Lowney’s (2003) dictum, “we are all leaders and we are leading all the time” and reinforces my own thought that leadership through feel good slogans and buzzwords is not the true measure of a person’s style of management.


Like many in leadership and management positions, my style has evolved by learning by mistakes, moments of epiphany, and seeking continuous feedback from subordinates, peers, and quality supervisors. I also learned what a poor or mediocre leader is by observing far too many examples. Leadership to me is a constant struggle to remain flexible since every situation and worker is different. Knowing that with advice from writers such as Weinberger (2011) and Kelly (2017) and thinkers such as Bostrom (2015), Jarche (2013),  and Shirky (2014), I can develop effective and motivated teams within a technologically changing environment which reinforces my own positive opinion of team first leadership, which is just another way to describe a connected workforce. I believe that the advancements in technology and the way we acquire knowledge through the internet requires leaders to sometimes put aside ego or personal ambition in order to train and grow future leaders since this provides a solid and ongoing foundation for an organization. Rather than solely using the term of ‘hosting’ as defined by Martin (2015), I plan to continue what I call ‘aggressive mentorship’ since some subordinates and peers are in need of guidance but reluctant to ask but I am mindful to respect their and my own internal boundaries while offering assistance and guidance.

I have the impression that successful leaders are always planning for tomorrow and the best bet to create an efficacious organization tomorrow is to be selective with today’s workforce talent and give them the technological tools and associated training to thrive. However, Weinberger (2011) emphasized the difficulties in filtering and selecting helpful knowledge on the internet today and these same difficulties apply to a leader’s emotional intelligence and ability to discern the truth in an advanced age where information is easily manipulated. Weinberger’s (2011) theme in Too Big to Know reminded me of the Marcus Aurelius quote concerning how hard it is to decipher the truth, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” I have seen people who were groomed for leadership fail miserably when actually placed in charge of a team and given an assignment to complete. These future leaders were selected based on their intelligence and successful project management but not emotional intelligence and social skills, which after reading Martin (2015) should have been part of the selection equation along with teaching the importance of information synthesizing so weaknesses could be identified earlier.

Future leaders would also benefit from the opinion presented by Jarche (2013) in that leaders must first establish a relationship with the group they are trying to lead and the group has to acquiesce to being assisted by this new style of leader/host in order to for the organization to be successful. Martin’s (2015) ideas concerning clarifying, connecting, creating, and coping reinforced some of my ideas that an effective leader should be able to choose a ‘third way’ in situations that do not present an easy answer. By encouraging the team to work around the problem rather than allowing the problem to consume then, a competent leader will use the solutions as opportunities to move in new directions whether that means more profit, increased performance, or improved customer service. Rather than being a challenge to a leader’s intelligence and well-being, I think developing an adaptive mindset and social intelligence would not only improve a leader’s problem solving skills but also increase a person’s value within the team rather than being a prototypical hero-leader as defined by Martin (2015).

I see my organization and myself in Weinberger’s (2011) descriptions about the struggles of readily available information and the constantly evolving internet. My organization (myself included) has experienced many issues as we have grappled with new tools such as social media and mobile computing which makes employees available 24/7. Many of my peers have been encouraging our senior leadership to recognize the challenges that rapidly changing technology bring to old-fashioned organizations such as ours. Although there have been some initiatives to teach employees about social media platforms and offering other options to better connect our workforce digitally, it appears many people in upper management still do not fully understand that we are already in the next industrial revolution as described by Kelly (2017). I consider leadership a constant learning process and this course in technology and leadership has only added to my toolbox of ideas to be a better leader and follower with the assistance of technology. Ben Hammer


Bostrom, N. (2015, March). What happens when computers get smarter than we are? Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/nick_bostrom_what_happens_when_our_computers_get_smarter_than_we_are

Chui, M. (Interviewer) & Shirky, C. (Interviewee). (2014). The Disruptive Power of Collaboration: An Interview with Clay Shirky [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from McKinsey and Company website: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/the-disruptive-power-of-collaboration-an-interview-with-clay-shirky

Jarche, H. (2013, November 5). Networks are the new companies. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2013/11/networks-are-the-new-companies/

Kelly, K. (2017, January 12). How AI can bring on a second industrial revolution. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/IjbTiRbeNpM

Lowney, C. (2003). Heroic leadership: Best practices from a 450-year-old company that changed the world [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Martin, M. (2015, December). A deep dive into thinking about 21st century leadership. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.michelemmartin.com/thebambooprojectblog/2015/12/work-in-progress-the-leadership-lab.html

Vora, T. (2015, August 31). Skills for future success in a disruptive world of work. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://qaspire.com/2015/08/31/skills-for-future-success-in-a-disruptive-world-of-work/

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.


Leaders and the Implications of Advancing Technologies

The takeaways that stuck with me this week after reflecting on the readings, videos, and slideshow presentation is that change is inevitable and leaders need to stay current to the technological advances in their own workplace. I also believe that these changes or advances wrought by technology should encourage leaders to find ways to leverage technology to strengthen the bonds and connections between our team members rather than relying on technology and/or artificial intelligence (AI) to do just about everything. To paraphrase Weinberger’s (2011) chapter 9 thoughts in Too Big to Know, not only is the internet possibly making us stupider is terms of deep thinking and acquiring knowledge but I also fear that advances in technology and especially AI will make us lazier in terms of maintaining our social bonds. While it was distressing to see little mention about the poor and disadvantaged in the world in this week’s literature since I am curious about who gets left behind during these technological leaps, at least most cultures in the developing world have maintained the importance of ties to family and friends which help to hold a society together. I enjoyed Weinberger’s (2011) five ideas about the networking of knowledge (open up access, provide the hooks for intelligence, link everything, leave no institutional knowledge behind, teach everyone) and the two that appealed to me were increasing access and teaching everyone. I am in agreement with Weinberger (2011) in that we should open up the knowledge portals and institutions that are still reticent about sharing their holdings on the internet. I also like the concepts of teaching everyone since that should also be a focus for leaders in the workplace and this is an area that could use a boost since it troubles me to see some people left behind the technological learning curve through no fault of their own.

Before submitting my post last week about intellectual property and copyright, I did not know that since 1989 in the U.S. that all works are automatically copyrighted, even if the author does not desire copyright protection and it was nice to see this issue covered by Weinberger (2011). Copyright protects the rights given to authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works and this protection is available to both published and unpublished works (U.S. Copyright Office, 2012). The term of protection is the life of the author plus 70 years in the U.S. and the life of the author plus 50 years per the Berne Convention (n.d.). This time limit varies country to country but it can be no less than the Berne Convention provisions for signatory countries (WIPO, n.d.). I agree with Weinberger (2011) that reducing these copyright protection time limits will assist in the sharing of knowledge but the biggest obstacles are business groups in the form of collective management organizations. These groups such as the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America act in the interest and on behalf of the owners of copyrights by providing administrative and legal expertise and managing, collecting, and disbursing royalties. While I am not advocating for authors to give up their copyrights and decline the protections of the collective management organizations, I believe a reduction in the number of years copyright protection is provided to say 25 years after the author’s death would free up a tremendous amount of data and open up access to more researchers and purveyors of knowledge. Ben Hammer


U.S. Copyright Office. (2012). Copyright basics. Retrieved from https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

World Intellectual Property Organization. (n.d.). Berne convention for the protection of literary and artistic works. Retrieved from http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/

Weinberber, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.

Intellectual Property and Copyright – Ethical Issues Galore in the Digital Age

In general, intellectual property (IP) refers to products of the intellect protected under the laws of patents, copyrights (more on that below), trademarks, trade secrets, and unfair competition. These laws foster innovation and creativity, helping to ensure that the competitive struggle occurs within certain bounds of fairness. The protection of intellectual property can contribute significantly to technological progress, competitiveness of businesses, and a country’s economic, social, and cultural well-being (Vidraşcu, 2014).

Trademarks are the oldest form of intellectual property, with origins in ancient times. From pre-Roman potters’ marks and medieval guild symbols to holographic trademarks on modern products, trademarks have been used to distinguish one maker’s goods from that of others. Copyright was not invented until after the advent of the printing press and wider public literacy. In England, the King was concerned with the unfair copying of books and used the royal prerogative to pass the Licensing Act of 1662, which established a register of licensed books and required a copy to be deposited with the Stationers Company (Nipps, 2014). The Statute of Anne was the first real act of copyright, giving the author rights for a fixed period. Internationally, the Berne Convention outlined the scope of copyright protection in the late 1800s and it is still in force to this day (WIPO, n.d.).

U.S. History of Intellectual Property

The U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, and Clause 8) gives Congress the power “to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The patent and copyright systems established under this power are as democratic as the Constitution that created them – offering the same protection and the same hope of reward to every individual (National Archives, n.d.). The U.S. did not create intellectual property laws, but we are a key player in developing global rules to protect IP.

Key International Multilateral Agreement

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) was one of the most significant achievements of the Uruguay Round of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – now WTO) negotiations. TRIPS requires all WTO Members to provide certain minimum standards of protection for patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and other forms of intellectual property. TRIPS created its own standards but also incorporated by reference several of the key pre-existing multilateral IP agreements. In addition to substantive obligations, TRIPS requires countries to provide effective enforcement of these rights (WTO, 2017).

TRIPS is the first multilateral intellectual property agreement that is enforceable between governments, allowing them to resolve disputes regarding fulfillment of obligations through the WTO dispute settlement provisions. The TRIPS agreement came into force in 1995, going into effect in developed countries – including the United States – in January 1996 and developing countries had until January 2000 to comply with the TRIPS standards with respect to geographical indications while the least developed countries had been given until January 1, 2006 to comply. With regard to the patent provisions that may have an effect on the access to medicines, least developed countries had until January 2016 to comply (WTO, 2017).


Copyright protects the rights conferred by a government – for a specified period – to the creator of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works such as books, articles, drawings, photographs, musical compositions, motion pictures, recordings, or computer programs. Copyright protects the expression of the idea, but not the ideas themselves. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. In the United States, copyright protection is provided under Title 17, U.S. Code, which is administered by the U.S. Copyright Office. There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. However, most countries do offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions (Cornell, n.d.).

What Rights Does Copyright Provide?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office (2012), the original creators of works protected by copyright and their heirs have certain basic rights. They hold the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • To reproduce the work in copies;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work;
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

Term of Protection

The economic rights for a copyright have time limits that enables both creators and their heirs to benefit financially for a reasonable period of time. In the U.S., copyright protection filed after January 1978 is term of the author’s life plus seventy years (U.S. Copyright Office, 2012). The Berne Convention and the TRIPS Agreement establish international copyright laws including the term of protection. According to the Berne Convention, Article 7.1:

“The term of protection granted by this Convention shall be the life of the author and fifty years after his death.”

TRIPS Article 9.1 states members shall comply with Articles 1 through 21 of the Berne Convention, but when the term of protection is not based on an author’s life, provisions under TRIPS Article 12, state:

“Whenever the term of protection of a work, other than a photographic work or a work of applied art, is calculated on a basis other than the life of a natural person, such term shall be no less than 50 years from the end of the calendar year of authorized publication, or, failing such authorized publication within 50 years from the making of the work, 50 years from the end of the calendar year of making.”

What is Not Protected by Copyright?

Some countries may have material that is not protected under their national law. In the U.S., there are several categories of material that are generally not eligible for U.S. federal copyright protection. According to the U.S. Copyright Office (2012) these include (among others):

  • Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded);
  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents;
  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration;
  • Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and arranged without original expression. Examples include: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources.

The Internet Treaties

The field of copyright and related rights has expanded enormously with the technological progress of the last several decades that has brought new ways of spreading creations by new forms of worldwide communication. Dissemination of works via the internet is the latest development, raising new questions concerning copyright. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is involved in the ongoing international debate to shape new standards for copyright protection in cyberspace. The organization administers the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonogram Treaty (WPPT) often known together as the “Internet Treaties,” which set down international norms aimed at preventing unauthorized access to and use of creative works on the internet or other digital networks. The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) was concluded in Geneva in December 1996 and entered into force in March 2002 (WIPO, n.d.). The WCT mentions two types of subject matter to be protected by copyright:

  • Computer programs, whatever the mode or form of their expression;
  • Compilations of data or other material databases, in any form, which due to the selection or arrangement of their contents constitute intellectual creations.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law which criminalizes production and dissemination of technology that can circumvent measures taken to protect copyright – not merely infringement of copyright itself – and heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the internet. Passed in May 1998 by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law in October 1998, the DMCA amended Title 17 of the U.S. Code to implement internet treaties while providing “safe harbors” to online service providers from copyright infringement by their users (GPO, 1998). On March 10, 2004 the European Union passed the EU Copyright Directive or EUCD, similar in many ways to the DMCA.

Internet Challenges

Over the past decade, the internet and digital technologies have revolutionized the spread of ideas and information, including creations protected by copyright and related rights. The internet and digital technologies are having a significant impact on the way that copyright content is created, disseminated, and used, with major implications for the copyright system. As the sharing of digital content becomes quick and easy, the spread of open and free software illustrates the viability of emerging business models based on collaborative creativity. The content-delivery role of internet intermediaries such as ISPs and peer-to-peer software companies is also completely evolving, against a background where differing standards of copyright liability apply across national jurisdictions.

With the increased application of technological protection measures (TPMs) to ensure legitimate delivery and use of digital copyright content, the conditions under which beneficiaries of exceptions and limitations are afforded access to TPM-protected content has become an issue of growing concern, including with respect to implementation of the WCT and WPPT. The need for interoperability between copyright content in digital form and digital devices is increasingly apparent, and a number of ongoing standards initiatives in the field of digital rights management are creating ethical implications for users that are not fully understood.

Open Source Software Code

Copyright law ensures that software developed under open source licenses is distributed in accordance with the principles of the movement. Software licensed under the Gnu General Public License, for example, originally developed by Richard Stallman for the Free Software Foundation, can only be modified and distributed provided the source code is made publicly available (Free Software Foundation, 2007). Most open source software is licensed and most licenses share two common elements: the right to payment of license fees is waived and there is a condition that the underlying source code is made available. These licenses rely upon contracts to build upon the protections and rights inherent in copyright law, and are enforceable in court on that basis. The licenses grant rights and permissions subject to conditions that restrict how the software can be changed or distributed – and these conditions are based on intellectual property. In addition, the use of source code from open source developers is often permitted on condition of appropriate attribution to the author of the original source code.

Open Source Licenses

The benefits that open source software may offer include access to source code, community-based development, local skills and capacity building, freedom from vendor lock-in, reduced costs, broad rights, and the ability to customize to local conditions. However, while open source software licensing is increasingly well accepted, these licenses have not yet been fully tested in the courts of various legal jurisdictions. Moreover, they do not contain the warranties, representations and indemnities in favor of the licensee that are standard elements in other licenses. This has given rise to legal and ethical concerns that licensees may be exposed to liability for intellectual property infringement if the infringing code is included in derivative software products. Software innovation is a powerful tool for economic development and intellectual property plays a critical role in promoting research and development in this field and in protecting and rewarding creative software development, whether based on open source or proprietary models. The choice between open source and proprietary models of software is therefore not a decision antagonistic to intellectual property but rather a business decision, based on strategic and ethical choices to be made according to the circumstances of each case.

Open Source and Proprietary Software

Users (governments, enterprises, organizations, and individual citizens) should be free to identify the solution that best meets their requirements. The U.S. Government does not believe that open source software should be advocated in preference to proprietary software and views the growth of the open source movement as beneficial, in that these communities increase the diversity of software technologies available to users (U.S. Chief Information Officer, 2016). The existence of this diversity – including open source, proprietary, and combinations of both software – provides greater choice, which in turn enables users to choose the best alternatives based on their needs, constraints, and associated trade-offs while being ethically compliant.

Fair Use and the Public Domain

Fair use is primarily for the use of copyright-protected work for commentary, parody, news reporting, research, and education. The U.S. Copyright Act lists four factors to help judges determine, and therefore help users ethically determine when a usage may be “fair use.” These relate to:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit, educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyright-protected work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyright work as a whole;
  • The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyright-protected work.

If something is in the public domain then copyright protections do not apply. However, the law related to public domain is somewhat complex. A formal notice of copyright on the work is no longer required and just because something is on an unrestricted website does not mean it is in the public domain nor does it mean the copyright owner does not care if you use the material. Determining fair use must be done on a case-by-case basis. All four “fair use” factors must be weighed in determining fair use in a specific situation. Any use for educational or non-profit purposes is not automatically permitted. While various groups have developed educational use guidelines, none of the guidelines has the force of law, and relying on them is ethically controversial.

Issues with Intellectual Property

Some people characterize intellectual property as protectionism and there is ongoing debate as to whether intellectual property laws truly operate to confer the stated public benefits or whether the protection they are said to provide is appropriate in the context of innovations derived from such things as traditional knowledge and folklore. This controversy also contributes to the ethical issues of users of the internet misappropriating intellectual property especially in developing countries where the use of others’ work can be the first step out of poverty or the seed that leads to innovation. Manifestations of this controversy can be seen in multiple forums and the way that countries decide whether to grant intellectual property protection and how much energy they devote to enforcement.

The growing value of intellectual property in a knowledge-based economy emphasizes the need for effective enforcement mechanisms. Intellectual property disputes can be resolved through litigation, although parties are more frequently submitting disputes to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Approximately 7% of world trade is in goods that infringe on intellectual property and millions of jobs disappear worldwide due to lost profits, countries lose tax revenues from legitimate businesses and workers who pay tax on products sold, and inferior, infringing products compromise public health and safety (WTO, 2017).

High profits and low risk attract all types of illegal organizations to intellectual property rights infringement and counterfeiters and pirates have the contacts, the clientele, and the expertise to return to their illegal operations as soon as they walk out of the courtroom. The TRIPS Agreement introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system for the first time and the agreement included standards, enforcement, and dispute settlement. TRIPS also defines the main elements of intellectual property protection, the rights that are conferred, and the minimum duration of protection (WTO, 2017).

Ben Hammer


Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). U.S. Code: Title 17 – copyrights. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17

Free Software Foundation. (2007). GNU general public license. Retrieved from https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

Government Printing Office. (1998, October 28). Digital millennium copyright act. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-105publ304/pdf/PLAW-105publ304.pdf

Higgins, D. (2012). “Forgotten Heroes and Forgotten Issues”: Business and Trademark History during the Nineteenth Century. Business History Review, 86(2), 261-285.

National Archives. (2016, October 12). America’s founding documents. Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs

Nipps, K. (2014). Cum privilegio: Licensing of the press act of 1662. The Library Quarterly 84(4), 494-500. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/677787

U.S. Chief Information Officer. (2016). Federal source code policy. Retrieved from https://sourcecode.cio.gov/

U.S. Copyright Office. (2012). Copyright basics. Retrieved from https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

Vidraşcu, P. (2014). Debates on intellectual property rights. Hyperion Economic Journal, 2(3), 74-85.

World Intellectual Property Organization. (n.d.). Berne convention for the protection of literary and artistic works. Retrieved from http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/

World Intellectual Property Organization. (n.d.). WIPO copyright treaty. Retrieved from http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/text.jsp?file_id=295166

World Intellectual Property Organization. (n.d.). WIPO performances and phonograms treaty (WPPT). Retrieved from http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/text.jsp?file_id=295578

World Trade Organization. (2017). Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights. Retrieved from https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips_01_e.htm

The Opportunities and Challenges of Networked Workers

This is a late posting for Week 5 so my apologies to the readers but I have been dealing with a medical challenge these past several weeks. I am feeling better now and hopefully my recovery will keep trending upward.

A reoccurring theme that stood out for me this week as I reviewed the readings and videos is how organizations are restructuring themselves to benefit from distributed leadership and networked employees with the unintended consequences of increasing trust throughout the organization and further strengthening strategic thinking and innovation processes. While some organizations are making conscious efforts to encourage the networking of employees, I think we have already passed the tipping point in that workers, especially younger workers are already connected and expect the same small group dynamics and loose interactions at their place of employment. So change is being forced upon the organization since most networked employees desire that the boss or supervisor act more in the role of facilitator and/or supporter rather than providing yes/no decisions or worse, micromanaging.

As illustrated by Weinberger (2011) in Too Big to Know the Army and especially the Marines have been emphasizing for many years the use of distributive or empowering leadership in ways that are proven successful in coping with changes (both expected and unexpected) across a range of industries and organizational types. Rainie’s (2013) slideshow also provides examples and the pros and cons of networked individuals or small teams in not only discovering the need for problem solving but also being nimble in devising the best ways to overcome challenges in implementing change. Weinberger’s (2011) application of distributive leadership can also be seen in the transition of traditional industries such as mine in their development of an on-line presence and the challenges these organizations face when allowing and/or encouraging employees to become networked. Primarily, there is a tendency for breakdowns in forward thinking, communication, and deliberate action when great numbers of people (dispersed leadership) try to make the switch to becoming networked enterprises. I believe Weinberger (2011) is correct since when organizations attempt to become networked enterprises without first changing their management mindset, it seems the biggest obstacle they encounter is a lack of far reaching mindfulness and the leaders usually set either easy to attain goals or goals that are so undefined that they are impossible to achieve, all of which are hallmarks of dispersed leadership.

One of the strengths of distributive leadership is the flexibility of small groups and their leaders, whether formal or informal to adapt to both group dynamics and situations. Another feature of distributive leadership that is applicable to innovation in the examples provided by Jarche (2013) is that decentralized leadership, when properly implemented, can boost team morale and performance when situations allow/encourage any group member to assume a leadership role based on context, situation, and/or the task the small group is addressing. I can see this approach taking fruit in the Betacodex approach to management as offered by Jarche (2013) in the comments section of his article.  Concepts such as the Betacodex can complement distributive leadership and be successful for networked individuals and organizations since connected employees and small group members share responsibility for scanning the environment, sharing information, and engaging in mutually informed assessments while keeping the supervisor or ‘decision maker’ on the periphery and non-intrusive. Ben Hammer


Jarche, H. (2013, November 5). Networks are the new companies. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2013/11/networks-are-the-new-companies/

Rainie, L. (2013, November 8). Networked worlds and networked enterprises. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/PewInternet/networked-worlds-and-networked-enterprises

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.

The Internet is Changing How the Government Works, Slowly But Surely

I work for the Government (big G) and but even leaders within my agency who disdain technology and for whom the internet instills fear realize that the best ideas are not confined to a 9-to-5 work schedule. I was surprised at how far behind my agency was in terms of technology when I joined almost 20 years ago and it has remained behind the times ever since. However, I think one of the greatest benefits that employees and especially leaders in my agency have gained in terms of connectivity is that technology makes it easier to do something that leaders should be doing anyway—asking for help. As provided by David Weinberger (2011) in chapter 6 of Too Big to Know and explained by Jon Husband on his Wirearchy website, the change from paper, books, and other mediums to digital means as a way to share information allows for instantaneous feedback with readers and in my workplace, even though we may not be using Office 365 (more like Office 2000), we still are able to connect and interact at a level that was impossible to conceive even 25 years ago. While it is true the Government is more risk averse than the private sector, we are still innovating though at a much slower pace. In the private sector, you innovate or no longer exist but leaders are extremely accountable for results. In Government, it often takes longer and it can be more difficult to measure results but mistakes in my line of work can become huge problems so people triple check everything. However, it is still important to seek alternative solutions rather than shooting down ideas. Empowerment is critical since it unleashes creativity not only in the same sense as Gartner’s (2014) Six Steps to Build a Successful Digital Business but even in organizations with weak or heavily regulated links to the internet like mine. The idea or product might not be perfect but should be rewarded and it is important for agencies such as mine to stay connected to the private sector since it is easy to live in a bubble. We need to pay attention to the private sector and bring their lexicon into the public sector such as the predictions provided by Gartner (2010) for the workplace of the future so that ideas such as work swarms, the de-routinization of work, and hyperconnections can at least be explored. It is important for leaders to listen to different groups of people, not just in the Government but also in academia, science, business, and non-government organizations. Smart leaders know to empower networks of people to spark dialogue – that is the beauty of the panoply of connectivity that exists whether our organization is on the cutting edge of technology or woefully behind.

I realize that some people see agencies such as mine as exotic, not necessarily relevant to their lives but our challenge is to engage and show the public that what we do is relevant. It is important that the services we provide to our citizens and other customers be user friendly and that comes from the tech sector. We are here to serve the public, not vice versa but certain security measures are necessary, of course. One of the ways we are seeking to become more user friendly is by untethering our workforce so that our employees are not bound to their desks and have more flexibility in their work and can potentially have a better work-life balance. But there are issues that need to be addressed and one of these is as shared by David Weinberger (2014) in his talk about the Power of the Internet concerning the anticipation of leaders about what the internet will allow untethered employees to accomplish. Another issue is the expectation by many managers that an untethered diplomat is constantly available to work, creating overtime and work-life balance issues. Some situations and activities require after-hours availability but supervisors should realize that other situations may not require an instant response from their staff and should strive to create an environment that encourages work-life balance. To me, the promise of untethered employees circles back to Jon Husband’s article explaining the Wirearchy and how knowledge, trust, and credibility between the employee and leader encourages dialogue, strategic conversations, and responsiveness not only between the two but also between the organization and our customers. Ben Hammer


Gartner. (2010, August 4). Gartner says the world of work will witness 10 changes during the next 10 years. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1416513

Gartner. (2014, May 21). Gartner identifies six key steps to build a successful digital business. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2745517

Husband, J. (n.d.).  What Is wirearchy? Retrieved from http://wirearchy.com/what-is-wirearchy/

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.

Weinberger, D. (2014, October 22). David Weinberger on the power of the internet. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/iPXmEh24KXA

Building Communities, Not Databases

I read Weinberger’s (2011) three chapters with great anticipation since perhaps the author would have some insights based on social connections and the internet into why concepts such as Knowledge Management (KM) and other management fads such as Total Quality Management and 360-degree feedback never seem to be sustainable. Davenport (2015) is correct that the internet is killing KM since there was not much life in KM at the working level anyway and rightly so. To me, KM is another example of an idea dreamed up by consultants and academics that could be pitched to corporations and other organizations as a ‘weakness’ that needed to be addressed. Who better to identify and install KM at your corporation? Why, none other than a group of consultants who were more than willing to work with your employees to build a KM database and conduct training to teach your employees how to access the database. I remember when the KM consultants made their rounds at my organization in the late 1990s to launch KM and it was pitched as the best and latest way to capture knowledge with the help of technology. I don’t think KM has ever been mentioned again at my workplace since perhaps 2004. KM failed the same way that other management fads failed at my workplace: no one seems to ask the frontline worker what they needed or wanted to perform their job better and meet their own personal career goals, assuming the worker had any career goals. Shocking to some but quite a few employees are there just for the paycheck. It is not my intention to play down the past work of Nancy Dixon (2009) and others in the KM field but I believe this was yet another management concept conceived in an echo chamber to use Weinberber’s (2011) analogy on group think.

I believe leaders should encourage social learning among their staff members backed up with the formal training that almost every organization provides. Knowledge Management in this way is more natural to employees especially as the internet becomes the de facto repository of knowledge rather than companies trying to develop and maintain their own in-house version of a knowledge database. My own organization still struggles with our own proprietary database and after 15 years, it is still not user friendly and many gaps in information exist and/or subject portals have not been updated in many years. Jarche (2010) is correct that social learning combined with other aspects of organizational learning holds better promise for employees to connect and find answers rather than relying on key knowledge holders (usually senior managers) for guidance and direction. I am glad to see that KM professionals are finally seeing the light in terms of connecting people with the right web based tools such as wikis or blogs and encouraging managers to support social media. As Dixon (2009) mentioned, the goal of KM professionals should be to assist senior leaders and managers in locating and building communities within their own organizations and branching out from there.


Davenport, T. (2015, June 24). Whatever happened to knowledge management? The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/06/24/whatever-happened-to-knowledge-management/

Dixon, N. (2009, July 30). Where knowledge management has been and here it is going – part three. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/07/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-three.html

Jarche, H. (2010, February 24). A framework for social learning in the enterprise. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2010/02/a-framework-for-social-learning-in-the-enterprise/

Weinberber, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.

Kahoot! It can be a game changer for collaboration

Do you want to play a game? Kahoot appeals to the human desire for play and competition which, when properly introduced in a learning or training environment serves as a great icebreaker and tool for the instructor to assess the students and their respective individual knowledge bases. I was introduced to Kahoot during a class on utilizing technology to enhance presentations to adult learners and while I was initially hesitant since the website seemed geared towards little kids, it was surprising how quickly the members of my class became immersed in taking the Kahoot quizzes especially when we were placed into groups that competed with each other for top scores. The instructor stoked our competitive fires by offering token awards such as candy for correct answers. I found Kahoot provided a means for our instructor to quickly gauge where we stood in relation to our knowledge of the subject matter (classroom technology) being taught in way that was fun and unpretentious. Kahoot is a free web-based tool that allows instructors, discussion leaders, and supervisors to present multiple-choice or true/false quizzes to a group in real-time and the group/class members can take the quiz on any available platform e.g., desktop, smart phone, tablet, etc. that has an Internet connection. This simplicity allows instructors to present game-like multiple-choice answer quizzes tailored for audiences of all ages and subject matters. Instructors and others in the class/group can create their own quizzes or find, use, and/or remix public quizzes. Kahoot allows questions and polls to contain images and video but the default setting displays colors, symbols, and suspenseful music similar to the game show Jeopardy, all of which creates a high energy, game-like atmosphere. When class participants see the wrong answers flashed upon the screen, groans quickly follows along with cheers and high-fives when participants learn they were correct in answering a question. Liveliness in the game or quiz escalates as updated rankings appear on the central scoreboard after each question while a participant receives personalized feedback on their own device. Playing a game of Kahoot does not require an account, only a game PIN from the quiz moderator and a name, which could be a pseudonym.

While not a Web 2.0 game changer in the same vein as presented by O’Reilly (2005) and Wesch (2007), I think Kahoot is a prime example of a participatory tool that is a simple way for people to connect and interact with each other in a not only a classroom situation but also in an organizational leadership setting. While I have not done so yet, I have been waiting for our next office training session to use Kahoot as a means to gauge my team members’ knowledge on such subjects as equal opportunity protections, sexual harassment law/regulations, and contracting so we can address the areas in which they are lacking information. I believe this use of Kahoot to establish the base lines would encourage discussion during our training sessions and be an example of the kind of person-to-person collaboration highlighted by Clay Shirky in his interview by Michael Chui (2014). Rather than hosting training sessions with the usual lecturer standing in front of a group of dull eyed attendees, using Kahoot could at least be used as a conversation starter and serve as a segue for the instructor to focus on areas identified as weak during the quizzes. Overall, I think Kahoot can serve as an effective tool to gauge knowledge and encourage collaboration in a classroom setting or other learning environment. Ben


Chui, M. (Interviewer) & Shirky, C. (Interviewee). (2014). The Disruptive Power of Collaboration: An Interview With Clay Shirky [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from McKinsey and Company website: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/the-disruptive-power-of-collaboration-an-interview-with-clay-shirky

O’Reilly, T. (2005, September 30). What is web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved from http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a//web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

Wesch, M. (2007, March 7). The machine is us/ing us (final version). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g&feature=youtu.be