In the afterglow of OpenGovWestBC I came away with absolutely no doubt that open is the way to be. Fascinating speakers and panels dialogued about how governments can be more open to their constituents. Open is the single most compelling way that we can improve our democracy. Open goes beyond information flows and data vaults – open involves how we interact with one anther.There was a strong sentiment in the room that aspects of our democracy in Canada – and indeed around the world – are broken. Being open is a conceptual shift that goes beyond information, data, and department silos. Open implies that we conduct ourselves with increased transparency both in our personal interactions with each other and in our digital dealings. Silos start with our own fears and social inhibitions and resonate out into our work and our lives.

The first keynote at OpenGovWestBC emulated this dual role of openness with public servant Nick Charney playfully jamming with Walter Schwabe the Chief Evolutionary Officer at fusedlogic. Charney elegantly framed the context of using his blog cpsrenewal.ca micro-blogging ie. twitter to get outside the confines of his cubicle, sharing the salient insight that to do this he has to complete with style the deliverables at the center of his desk to make space for social innovation from the side of the desk. Walter Schwabe infused the playful attitude demonstrated within his CEO-spin title that is so common in the IT world. When creativity is your commodity, fostering innovative ideas for the knowledge economy, an open and playful environment is essential to harvesting the Creative Capital in an organization. From the conversations that I had at OpenGovWestBC I see how much Creative Capital resides in our public servants and that increasingly open office environments, knowledge flows, and transparent feedback loops with citizens, the private sector, and non-profit agencies will transform our democratic process and subsequently our world.

My consulting work is centered on fostering this Creative Capital and ThoughtStream, the software platform I am stoked on, helps to foster this openness in work environments while maintaining the delicate dance between transparency and privacy. The essence of openness requires a liberating structure – think cubicle layout and organizational chart – that can support an inspired process – think water cooler conversations and open space to jam – to emerge.

Open evangelists are banging at the firewalls of an obsolete system of organization built on the mechanical modes of industrialism. This is the very thing that is broken and it resides at the very foundation of how the majority of people see the way the world is. This is the hierarchal corporate model to organize the herd to mass produce widgets. The problem is that we the people are not widgets and when we treat people like widgets they get closed. We cannot tap the creative capital of human innovation when people or systems are closed. This is why open is the gateway to more elegant structures that foster the genius of otherwise ordinary people to innovate.

The current system is built on debate where adversarial interests duke it out to bring other views their way. Open is built on the foundation of dialogue whereby citizens come together in conversation to innovate new orders of consciousness, abiding by self-organizing systems and collective intelligence. OpenGovWestBC has affirmed for me that open is the way to be.

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