Open – Beyond Technology

I am currently reading the book “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott. I am on hiatus from teaching my leadership course this year, so I am taking the opportunity to refresh my content and my perspectives. The basis of the book is fairly simple:

Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can.

Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time

This has gotten me thinking in general about conversations that have impacted me throughout my career, whether with colleagues, direct reports, supervisors, customers, or mentors.

Recently, I had an interaction on Twitter that got me thinking about a long-ago conversation in a different context that, although I had never thought much about it, had an effect on how I view the role of technology in solving problems. That Twitter interaction is here:

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Harvey and Fulcrum Community

There was a time in my consulting career where I was providing GIS software and database support to the US federal critical infrastructure protection community. Part of that work involved ‘event response,’ which most often took the form of natural disasters. I never deployed, but a lot of my co-workers did.

Ground truth was always the biggest problem. We were always trying to get a sense of what conditions were like on the ground with as little latency as we could manage. With the technology of the 2003 – 2007 time frame, that was a significant challenge. Whether notepads or spreadsheets or custom data collection extensions deployed on ToughBooks, we tried just about everything we could think of. Some of my co-workers even managed a forward-deployed ArcIMS server to try to get anything useful out of the affected areas after Katrina.

Fast-forward to 2017 and we’re dealing with the unprecedented aftermath of Harvey in the Houston, Texas area. I find myself in the fortunate position of working for a company, Spatial Networks, that has a technology I wish we had back then. In addition to the technology, the company has the will to open it up and put it in the hands of whomever needs it.

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