Hold your breath, it’s going to go deep.

600px-Logo_legrazie_città_dei_palombariDecember 2013 Update:

The full paper is now available on the Articles page. 

June 24, 2013 Update:

Our paper submissions are complete, now I have to do is write the paper entitled: THE CROWDED BOARDROOM — WHEN THE LONG TAIL COLLIDES WITH HIERARCHY: A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE.   Should be interesting….


I received the wonderful news the other day that our panel proposal for an academic conference was accepted.

Truth be known, I am only on the panel because I happen to know three guys with brains, and they were kind enough to invite me to join them. The proposal, (that I agreed to be part of), is below. I am posting this here in the hopes that one or two of you might give me some input and I think that would be cool.


The proposal:

The International Social Science Council’s 2nd World Social Science Forum, 13-15 October, 2013 in Montréal, Canada

Social Transformations and the Digital Age

Panel Theme: “Collaboration and Governance For a Digital Era”


While technology is proving eminently capable of connecting us, will it be enough to help us overcome chronic human problems, especially given the leaning biases of our institutions and their precognitive commitments towards hierarchy, romanticized leadership, equality and individual freedom? What else may be needed?

Each of the bold words may be a focus for debate. Is technology sufficient to connect us? From what chronic problems do we need saving? What are our institutional learning biases and how do we overcome them? Has hierarchical organization passed its prime? Why is leadership increasingly inappropriate in environments of collaboration and partnership? What’s the matter with equality? Why our notions of ‘freedom’ must evolve in the context of our increasing degrees of interdependence?

What else? There is growing interest in rising above traditional management and administration models, which are often observed as limited and ineffective, and moving towards organizing concepts such as distributed governance, collaboration and partnership, stewardship, self-organization, and real democracy – processes that promote constant inquiry and learning, and the development of collective intelligence.

Are today’s digital challenges simply pushing us towards incremental institutional adaptation by projecting tomorrow’s digital environment onto yesterday’s institutions? Or, is the emerging digital environment and its domains of Big Data, ubiquitous information, social media and mass collaboration posing a revolutionary challenge to our existing institutional models to help us embrace, unfold and orchestrate our social potential?


  • John Verdon, Knowledge Management Lead, S&T Outlook, Defence Research and Development Canada. Title: Knowledge and Collaboration Governance for Social Computing, Responsible Autonomy, Network Individualism and Self-Programmable Organization
  • Christopher Wilson, Senior Research Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa. Title: From Management and Leadership to Collaboration and Stewardship
  • Thom Kearney, Partner, Rowanwood Consulting. Former Senior Director, Applied Collaborative Tools, Treasury Board Secretariat (Responsible for GCPedia). Title: The crowded boardroom – when the long tail collides with hierarchy, a real life example.
  • Peter Levesque, CEO, Knowledge Mobilization Works & CEO, Knowledge Mobilization Institute. Title: Leadership from the Middle and With Purpose – How problem solving is actually happening in the MUSH (Municipalities, Universities, Schools, and Healthcare) sector


You know what to do, thank you very much.



About Thom Kearney

Change agent, teacher, arts, science, open government, father, mentor, storyteller, husband, dog owner,collaborator, not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Conference, Leadership, Presentation, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hold your breath, it’s going to go deep.

  1. Sohee says:

    In a class on Social Identity, some of the traits used to describe modern identity included fluid and fragmented. And as I observed so many of my fellow bus riders with their heads bent, focused on their mobile devices, I have wondered if technology is being used by the few to “divide and conquer” the masses. However, I realized that this is not so. These thumb-flying-communicators are connecting with their friends, and they are both creating and consuming their own mass media. They are creating their own culture. Evidence of social, collaborative media is abundant: Wikipedia, YouTube, Reddit, etc. Reliance on a vertical organizational structures thus becomes reduced as individuals become increasingly empowered, enabled and connected through technology. But is this real change? Or is everything the same and only appearing to be different?

    For real change to happen, I believe that faith and spiritual practice as a mass movement is required. I would hope that like-minded people would self-organize into well-functionng communities contributing to a better society, country, a better world. And that citizens fully embrace the belief that they are the holders of true power and leadership. For that type of shift to occur, a social commitment to evolving the inner self is needed. Real change within society cannot occur unless real transformation happens inside. The outer experience is a reflection of the inner. The commitment to evolve the inner self is individual and once a tipping point has been reached, our society will be changed. Technology can thus help people around the world connect, share and breakdown the divisive media and cultural barriers that did indeed divide and conquer.


  2. Thom Kearney says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment Sohee.


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