Monday, August 02, 2010

Inaugural Techonomy Conference

This coming week we will see the birth of Techonomy a new conference and a new organization dedicated to one of the most important things we do as a species -- the exchange of ideas in search of collaborative engagement that takes those ideas further... what Matt Ridley recently called at TED Global "ideas having sex." Techonomy, like TED, brings together an amazing group of the top thinkers in the world, people like Bill Gates and Dean Kamen who are making substantive contributions to the improvement of our planet and species. But unlike TED, the founders of Techonomy are on a mission. From their website: is what techonomy promotes: a rational, optimistic, forward-looking, technically savvy work ethic that celebrates technological achievement, human ingenuity, and sustainable living.
Technomic thinking -- understanding the relationship between technology and economy -- is key to the way in which our economy will develop in the 21st century. The pace of innovation, driven in this generation by the computer chip, now greatly exceeds the capacity for our linear human experience (and institutions) to comprehend. When we look at the problems we have today and calculate in 19th or 20th century terms the length of time it will take to solve these issues, we miss the profound change that the computation economy brings to our civilization.

As I prepare to travel to the Techonomy conference, I am reading and thinking about the recent Harvard Business Review blog post by Umair Haque, "Three To-Do's (And To-Don'ts) of 21st Century Strategy." In this compelling post, Umair begins his thoughts with a welcome:
Welcome, finally, The 20th century ended a decade ago, but the 21st century never began...
He goes on to explore a set of social dynamics that, he suggests, business needs to re-organize around in order to prosper in the 21st century. He identifies a strong middle class, a sustainable use of natural resources, societies which respect and protect human rights, and a need to reform the way corporations manage themselves as the key principles of the next era. To these I would add Techonomy attendee Andrew McAfee's voice and his separate HBR blog post, "IT's Three Key Organizational Transformations." He writes:
I see companies in all industries using computers to accomplish three broad and deep transformations: they're becoming more scientific, more orchestrated, and more self-organizing.
Techonomic thinking asks us to reflect on the kinds of challenges that Umair poses through the lens of technology and its capacity to transform our organizations and the very possibilities we have for solving humanity-wide problems. Andrew gives us the next few steps for how we prepare our organizations to participate in this new technology driven economy. Techonomy the conference encompasses both of these ideas and brings them together, Matt Ridley's "sex of ideas," and asks its attendees to spend the next several days working together to imagine a better world, to whose creation we can all contribute.

Welcome to today!