In November a group of Futurists convened in NYC to for PureMatter’s #NewWaytoWork Thinkathon in conjunction with the launch of IBM Verse. As a social strategist I’ve participated in a good number of hashtag campaigns and this one indeed seemed like a pretty cool concept. I was excited to see where it was going to go and with such a great make-up of influencers I knew that it could be very special. Little did I know just how special and how it would impact me personally.

I’d always considered myself fairly unemployable basically because I can’t stand for the status quo. Whenever I jump into a position I immediately think about what can be done to make a process better. As you can imagine this doesn’t go down very well when you’re supposed to be an entry-level drone. But try as I might I couldn’t turn it off. This compulsion is one of the reasons I started my PhD and ironically the main reason I left after 2 years. And it’s why I became a social strategist- a position that allows me to innovate to my heart’s content. My job is to build a better mousetrap and I love it.

But there’s a flip side to this. I’ve gotten used to living inside of my head. I’m used to everyone’s eyes glazing over 30 seconds into a conversation. I always tell people I’m happiest sitting in a corner with piles of data to analyze and that’s totally true. But it means I’m starved for interaction. There’s a joy that comes from the exchange of ideas. I thought that I would find it in the Academy and when I didn’t I assumed that it was simple not to be. That, not to sound overly dramatic, I would simply be alone in my head.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. What Academia couldn’t provide, IBM could. Stop for a second and think about that. IBM. A behemoth of a corporation founded in 1911. The epitome of the dreaded corporate private sector. And the catalyst for my entry into a community in which I feel totally accepted and valued. When I geek out others join in. No idea is too crazy.

Yesterday I came to the realization that the #NewWaytoWork hashtag has created a community focused on innovative thinking. Here’s what happened. Last month I participated in a #MillennialTalk tweetchat sponsored by IBM Social Business during which I suggested that part of the future of work would be a drone that delivered me coffee in bed. The idea generated some laughs and conversation. Then yesterday I participated in another IBM Social Business sponsored tweetchat- this time Brian Fanzo’s #SBizHour. We were talking about innovations we wanted for our work calendars and someone mentioned an alarm clock that integrated with a calendar. This led to my tweet:

As soon as I wrote this I was struck with the realization that the unifying factor was the innovation sparked by the #NewWaytoWork campaign. Both chats were fairly different and yet since they were sponsored they had the same Futurist message. My idea is of course fairly silly- not really focused on substantive contribution but the point is that these conversations are taking place around this hashtag and they are focused on creativity. Think of how many conversations you’ve been in where a new idea immediately gets struck down. There’s time to be practical but if we are to move forward we need a place where strategists and futurists feel free to exchange ideas.

Oh and by the way, a drone that delivers coffee actually exists:

Next step- integration with my alarm clock.

Advertisements