From the report, by Zachary Tumin with Archon Fung:
“Today, the global recession — coupled with changes such as the retirement of the post-World War II generation, the emergence of millennials, new waves of interactive communications technology, and low-cost collaboration platforms — is sparking a next wave of citizen engagement, reform of government, and the transformation of service.
“These collaborations reflect a profound realization that neither government, service providers, nor citizens can often accomplish their purposes without collaboration. In a networked world, the speed of change, the pace of risk and the breadth of opportunity means no one institution, organization or individual can go it alone. Especially now, with governments around the world facing financial crises, joining up and co-producing services with citizens, industry and non-governmental organizations seems essential.
“Even in flush times, such cross-boundary collaboration is difficult. Old-school legacy arrangements can stop innovation cold. Funding is stovepiped. Information is highly compartmentalized. Computer systems cannot easily operate together. Hierarchies are slow to change. Information assurance and privacy clash with calls for transparency and openness. Shared missions have no one uniquely accountable for outcomes. Even with all the obvious failures of recent years, from 9/11 to Katrina to the global financial crisis, agencies, organizations and units persist in “going it alone.”
“Especially in difficult times, when the “pie” is shrinking, individuals, institutions and societies tend to hunker down to assure their “slice” stays the same. At the level of government, for example, some agencies retreat to statutory core mission. Many managers are more risk-averse than ever. Oversight intensifies, shared mission-vision takes a back seat and investment in innovation dries up. Collaboration is a last resort — to be trotted out only when you’re backed into a corner.
“Yet evidence suggests, also, that in such times governments around the world may be more prone to reducing barriers to change, and experimenting more. Switching costs have lowered. Digitally enabled collaborations and innovation have blossomed. The technologies of smartphones and tablet, cloud and open platforms make adoptions light, fast and agile. All these moves provide clear evidence that the potentials for gains from new network-enabled collaborations are high…”