Innovation Needs Collaboration to Create Real Success
Last week I was invited to join a radio talk show program called “Real Man Things” hosted by Kevin Wallen. Myself, the host and two other guests, spoke about the economy and what the average man can do to help build it. The show was very informative as we each spoke about problems and solutions. All of us and hopefully the listeners ended the show being more aware of our economic issues and potential solutions. I bet you are thinking, this is a tech blog, what does the economy have to do with this?
The economy isn’t the focus of this article, although affected. What I want to bring across is the need for collaboration in the local tech industry. Jamaican techies are amongst the best, but we don’t collaborate anywhere as much as we should. In a way technology has almost become like the music industry, work hard enough and one day you might get a hit and rake in the bucks (we hope). The thing is though, we guard our ideas rather than share and develop them. Our intellectual gold needs to be purified and reviewed for quality before export. Internationally, techies are collaborating locally first and then internationally.
In the 2011 Slash Roots Developers conference, a team entered the code sprint having only met each other earlier that day. Paul Allen and Jermaine Byfield met online just weeks before, but lived on opposite coasts of the island. They teamed up for the competition, both coded PHP, but had never worked with each other before. Despite this and the fact that they were short a member of their team vs. the other competitors, they won! The greatest achievement of that event was the networking of local developers, who now collaborate with each other on a more regular basis.
One person can have an innovative idea, however one cannot innovate by them self. To create an innovative service or solution, you need a team, a team requires collaboration. To fix a problem, you may have to ask for help, help from a fellow techie. To innovate in the global Information, Communication and Technology Industry (ICT) we need local collaboration. The days of head cook and bottle washer are over, it will work great for prototyping, but that’s about it. By collaborating locally, you can build experience, build better solutions and get valuable feedback. This is not for startups or developers only, but for everyone in the ICT industry.
Companies like Facebook and Foursquare opened offices in Silicon Valley because that’s where the people were. Many countries are trying to recreate the very same social environment amongst ICT professionals which lead to Silicon Valley in the first place. We have the people, we just need to get them collaborating together. Events like Kingston Beta and DJam2 are great places to network and get things going. Additionally, using local forums and mailing lists can lead to more intense collaboration. Yes you may have a great idea or solution, but without collaboration it most likely won’t be executed properly.
Agree? Disagree? Know of a great event for networking with ICT people? Please leave a comment below.