When you think of someone ‘working the crowd,’ popular science tells us to think about an athlete spiking the ball after a TD, or a celebrity belting out another note after a standing ovation, or perhaps even a public figure who can bring us to a new place through their oratory abilities, right?
Not any longer. Today we can see ordinary people volunteering to work IN the crowd. Whether they are sharing a picture on instagram, or are sharing a new design for derby race cars. What is so exciting about the crowd source science is that through social media and new technology, we are allowing new stories to be told. Those of extra ordinary individuals who work countless hours trying to help their organizations, their families or businesses solve problems, work more efficiently or simply connect. This is why share my interview with Jeff Maaks. Jeff has been someone ‘working in the crowd’ and harnessing its power through putting together a framework at Hitachi Data Systems in what he calls; Barn Raising. He is re-using the concept that the Amish have been using for years. He has been leading his organization into a new way to collaborate through combining both traditional in person events which in today’s economy have become less common with jive software to co-create hundreds and hundreds of engineering documents that can be created, modified and discussed within his organization.
The role that Jeff plays in the crowd is no easy one. As a crowd organizer he seeks balance between the traditional organizational boundaries to court the widest audience and honors the business guiding principles and systems that allow these brilliant engineers to all co-create new content real time that can help the organization evolve quickly. One of many of his skills is the balancing act between making declarative statements and collaborating. He is a lobbyist for the crowd, he is an active listener, he is humble and he is at heart a teacher. Certainly we will see more of him as he teaches other organizations how to examine their collaboration, communities and knowledge sharing practices in his role as Director of Communities. There is much to learn from him since he has honed his craft at suspending judgment while driving business outcomes. Like most excellent leaders and instructors, it’s important for us to be reminded to emulate this by frequent examination and sharpening of our own pencils.