NOTE: This is a full archive for the Project Community: You & The World (2012) please see the main site for the most up to date information.

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Opinions opinions…Everywhere Opinions…

 

I believe that during the process of designing a product, the opinions of the people in your target group are very important. We’ve been researching OpenIDEO which is definitely an online community that I would use if I had a design challenge. It would give me the ability to post questions about the design and receive opinions from all over the world.

Taking a look at the other groups I would also surely use Facebook, although OpenIDEO allows me to communicate with everyone and Facebook only allows me to communicate with my friends. This is fine but their opinion might be more biased towards one place’s opinion, since most of my friends on facebook are Dutch or from my home country. While designing I think its very important to keep many diverse opinions in mind and try to collaborate them so that the product can be for as many people as possible. 

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So far….

For my future, being a good leader is very important to me, which is why I always take the opportunity to be the leader. So far ive learned a lot concerning leadership in this project. Assertiveness for example is not the most important thing, it’s more important to exploit the teammates abilities and allow them to work in those sections, because when someone enjoys doing something, they will do a much better job than if they do not enjoy it. Of course it remains difficult because there’s always going to be work that we don’t want to do, but just because we don’t want to do it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be done.

I’ve also learned so much about online communities, even websites such as Facebook that I thought I knew everything about. This project and the presentations of my peers have thought me so much more about how social media can be used as well as other types of online areas. It’s a weird statement but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m comfortable enough to go out of my comfort zone concerning online communities which for me is kind of a breakthrough because once I’m comfortable with something in the area of technology, and I use it a lot, It’s extremely rare for me to explore other options.

Please excuse for the extremely late post, It’s been a busy week J

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Help me help you help me help you….

The thing is like the most about this study is that the people are very diverse, concerning race, culture, knowledge, etc. this means that I am always able to learn something new and that people are able to learn something from me if they are willing to. During these few weeks I’ve learned a lot. For example I learned about many programs that can be used to make file sharing in working groups a lot easier. At first I always used dropbox, because I didn’t think it could get ay easier than that, but then a fellow teammate introduced me to base camp and Google docs. It took me a while to get out of my comfort zone and experience the new programs but once I did it I realized that there really are always better options.

In both of the groups that I am working now I play the role of team leader. It’s a great and challenging role, especially when it comes to motivating my teammates to do what must be done. I always knew that people do much better at something that they are interested in and that they know they’re good at. For example, I love to write, and for all the project of this first year there’s a lot of writing required and it’s absolutely no problem for me. But not everyone likes to write, meaning that those who don’t enjoy it will probably not do as well as those who do enjoy it. As group leader I therefore figured that it’s better to try and assign people roles that they will enjoy doing. There are always going to be things that we have to do that we don’t want to do but there must be one or more steps in the process that at least one team member would enjoy doing. Then again there’s also lack of interest at all, which is very difficult when it comes to the role of motivation. This is where I would need the team coach.

The coaches have been very helpful, they make things a lot clearer and as we talk about the process with them they tweak the flaws by advising us about our good ideas and our more improvable ideas. What I have been missing is a bit more assertiveness from some of the faculty. I have never believed that it’s fair for people to receive credit for something that they did not do, and in group work, group credit is received regardless of who did what and the difference in amount of participation and input. I don’t want anyone to fail, but a team is a team and it’s about equal input. As a leader I try my best to continuously motivate and get the best out of each of my teammates but sometimes it gets very difficult because since these teammates are still my peers, they do not take me as seriously as they take the faculty since they are the ones that decide how much credit should be received.

What I appreciate very much is how the faculty is so open to ideas. It’s always about what can be improved, even Nancy always asks if she has been helpful. I have experienced true caring about the activity and the classes and I really love seeing that, that I’m working with people who enjoy working with me and who want to improve. I have experienced many people in my life who have closed their minds to ideas of people that might be younger or less experienced then them, I believe that I can learn from a 4 year old, so I’m very happy that the faculty and my teachers believe they can learn from me. 

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My toolbox

My personal preferences concerning tool choices are different when it comes to my personal life than when it comes to my projects and teamwork. In teamwork I find it very important for everything to be documented. There needs to be a space where everything is and where all team members can have access to it and give their opinion or feedback. That’s why in many of my projects, my team used Facebook. It’s a place where you can create a group page and share all the files on which people can comment because it’s Facebook and there are comment sections everywhere. So I believe the file sharing ability and the comment sections are important tools when it comes to teamwork. I also think that constant communication should be available, I’ve had great experience with chat and IM for that, mainly phone applications like Watsapp have almost become crucial for me in order to keep in contact without having to call constantly. I also consider myself a bit of a control freak, which is why tools such as calendars, organization tools and categories are very important to me. I like things to be organized.

I believe that when it comes to online spaces, there is always one or two that meets everyone’s requirements.  So if everyone wanted something different, we would hunt for a space where everyone’s preferred functions would be available. There should always be a way to make some sort of compromise to keep everything organized and everyone content. I think that as a leader it’s important to listen to others and keep an open mind because in many cases someone might have a better idea than you. The problem with tools, just like phones and computers is that many people get accustomed to the tool that they use. For example I am very used to using Dropbox which is a program on which people can very easily share files. I was recently introduced to Google plus and as open minded as I am it is still difficult for me to make the transition. Some people don’t even bother, they are afraid to step out of their comfort zone and usually keep using the same things even though there’s a large chance that there’s a much easier availability. I always want to discover and explore new tools and learn new things and I will never be someone that says I know everything because I know I don’t. especially when it comes to technology and the abilities we have, it’s starting to become clearer that there is no, none will there ever be, a limit. 

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Let’s get together and feel alright…Online…

Teamwork has never been my strongest suit. I guess it’s because for me, being in independent woman in today’s world is an extremely important thing. I don’t like depending on people because, and I finally admit this with pain, I’m kind of a control freak. I love independent work because I have full power over what’s going to happen. This is both a good and a bad thing. Right now and in the future I will have to work with people and I probably won’t be able to do everything myself. I’m not quite there yet but I’m working on it. I’ve been involved in quite a few projects where I had to work with three or more people. Many of the tasks that had to be done in the project depended on one another so if one person didn’t complete their work, it would slow down everything, which is my main problem with interdependence.

 

As translated from a very old Latin proverb: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  

 

Some people would say that this is the behavior of someone that would make a good leader. I disagree because to be able to be good leader, one must be able to lead others, not just do everything themselves so that they remain in full control.

 

Another one of my great flaws is my impatience. I constantly want things to move fast and smooth, and I always want to get to the point.

 

The reason I start out by sharing these flaws with the public is because these two flaws are not the best combination when it comes to group work, especially not online group work. I’ve been involved in a few group projects in which the group decided to open a group page on Facebook. For file sharing, this is great. As soon as the teammates were finished with their work, they put it online where the rest can see it. It’s perfect.

 

As for interaction, it’s never worked out for me the way I wanted it to. Brainstorming for example is something that I can do for a long time, but it’s one idea after the other, after the other, after the other, it’s very continuous and online there’s always a chance a group member isn’t there, or someone’s internet falls out, or any other obstacle comes in the way. With such continuous thoughts, the ideal situation is for everyone to be attentive and discuss a long so that there’s a nice flow of ideas going on and you don’t have to go back to the idea you had 30 minutes or even 30 seconds ago, which was the problem when I had to write my ideas down and post them on the group page. When the group met at school and we all brainstormed together, things went a lot smoother. It was a group of five people just sitting in a circle around a table and talking, writing down the best ideas and all understanding each other, because if you don’t get it, you can just ask immediately. The smallest factor can be terribly annoying online. Like when you’re chatting and two people decide to reply at the same time so there’s a chance you might not read one reply because you always just read the bottom reply…You know what I mean? …See it’s probably better if I explain this in personJ.

 

In conclusion, I am quite old fashioned when it comes to discussions; face-to-face conversation is in my opinion still the best way to discuss and brainstorm. When you’re talking to someone online, the conversation is just never as smooth as it is when you’re face-to-face with someone. This doesn’t mean online pages shouldn’t be used at all, they are still great for file sharing and posting certain information so that everyone can see it and take their own time on it. Conversation and discussion should continuous. 

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My personal DESK research…

In this day and age, communicating face to face has become almost a rarity. I actually remember writing an essay concerning the effect of technology and social media on romantic relationships in which I concluded the following:

             ”In conclusion I believe that communicative technology is a great tool, but it shouldn’t be over used, especially not in a relationship. If you want to get to know someone better, personal interaction is better than the use of technology because you get to know the real person. There are no rehearsals or backspaces, there’s real conversation which can allow you to decide much better if this is really a person of interest. If you are constantly texting, you have no idea what’s happening on the other end”.  

I remember writing this essay and asking myself how I, myself, use online spaces, especially social media. I decided to take a trip down memory lane…

When I was in the sixth grade, our teacher made us create a Hotmail account. This is where working with a computer started for me which in this day and age is pretty old. I see kids as old as 5 already working on computers and iPads like professionals. After I created my Hotmail account, my fellow students talked me in to signing in to MSN messenger. MSN messenger is MSN’s chat room. I used MSN for a few years but I used it mainly to talk communicate with my friends about when we were going to see each other again. I will admit that it’s actually where I began chatting with the boy I first kissed, i was too shy to flirt with him in person. You can’t really think about what you want to say in person, when your chatting, there’s backspace and the ability to easily say “Be right back”. 

But in this generation it’s gotten a bit worse. My 15 year old cousin once told me about a few memories she has on facebook. Memories! Online! I mean….Really??? Shouldn’t memories be with actual people interacting with one another in an physical setting? Anytime I think of the word “memories” I think of millions of pictures I’ve taken in the past, of me in a tree and of my friends and I playing tag outside. My younger cousin thinks of pictures, text messages and message history on Facebook. 

After MSN messenger came the famous MySpace. MySpace was an online space where people posted what was on their mind, their pictures, and had a certain order they put their friends in. Once again I was talked into using MySpace by my friends. If it wasn’t for peer pressure none of this would have happened to me. I didn’t use MySpace that much, I didn’t find it that entertaining, MSN was a lot more fun because It was chatting, I was talking to people. 

Not long afterwards, Facebook came a long. It took me forever to get a facebook account. Actually I didn’t even get one, it was made for me by once again my great friends. The reason I really began to use facebook was because I loved the innovation in the social network. There’s so much you can do on facebook it’s amazing. I have always been kind of the class clown, so I mainly use facebook to post funny quotes and pictures. Many people prefer to use facebook to air their dirty laundry to all the 2000 friends they have on there. Different individuals have different ideas on how to express themselves, some people are very open with their personal lives and some are not. I am one of the latter. I prefer to use facebook for a more “public purpose” instead of reciting my life story on it. I recently became part of a few different private groups on facebook in order to communicate school projects. Even for project communities, we have our own little facebook page where we post all our documents. There’s also another entertainment page on facebook which I created, that’s where I post all the jokes that might be a little inappropriate for my own page, because now a days, even colleges look at your facebook page. 

In conclusion, everyone has a different perception on over use of online spaces, in my opinion overuse includes staying inside and working on Facebook or Tumblr when you can be outside feeding the ducks with your friends. I know it might be a silly example, but you know what I mean. Overuse is what makes us isolated from the rest of the world, and it can actually cause loneliness. It’s amazing how many facebook friends someone can have, but anytime you see them in public they are alone. It’s even more amazing how, on someones birthday, 1765 people post on their facebook wall, but they don’t get a single phone call or visit. In my opinion, I would pick a few phone calls and visits over a million facebok posts. 

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Ready, Set, Innovate!

It’s not the first time i’ve heard the terms innovation and contest in the same sentence. I actually heard it before, during and Global young leadership conference that I attended. There was an entertaining exercise which required a few groups to participate in a competition regarding research and findings on the best solutions for certain global problems. All the groups contained students from different countries, therefore, there was a lot of international input. From this experience I learned innovation contests are way more then just a contest. A contest is often defined as a game, with a price for those he who finishes first. For global issues, an innovation contest is not a game. It is an amazing opportunity for people from all around the world to critically asses the problem and come up with creative and truly helpful solutions that can lead to a better future. 

“Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. [This paradigm] assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology.”

Henry Chesbrough, Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm

By this definition, Innovation marketplaces are perfect for open innovation. Innovation marketplaces are commonly conducted online where a global question is asked and people from all over the world are free to give their opinions and ideas.The purpose hereof being the ability collaborate the best answers (which is why it is called a contest) and collaborating them in order to create the perfect solution or product. Advancing technology as stated above requires more then just the companies input, it requires user research and customer input. It requires criticism and people saying “nope, this sucks”. It requires continues change and bettering which is why external assistance is actually more important then internal, because the users are the ones using the product (duh).  

“…Companies can no longer keep their own innovations secret unto themselves; … the key to success is creating, in effect, an open platform around your innovations so your customers, your employees and even your competitors can build upon it, because only by that building will you create an ongoing, evolving community of users, doers and creators.” 

Randall Rothenberg, editor, strategy+business  (published by Booz Allen Hamilton)

I love that quote. It’s not just about one company or one person getting rich. It’s about making the whole world a better place. Everyone deserves the chance to become better, and when a company gives people that opportunity, they go forward a lot faster then those who just stick to themselves. 


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This was originally published at Deyna's