Social networks can learn a great deal about the harnessing the power of people and crowds from the recent passing of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino. Sadly, while there are millions connecting online and sharing information and statuses, there is still a palpable lack of creating concrete action towards achieving societal changes beyond the usual pro-active consumerism, of moving people to act in unison towards improving lives for a given population.
There are plenty of discussions about the merits of crowd sourcing and innovation in mass participation yet at most, it remains some sort of pep cliche from leaders and office managers. Deep inside, there remains a mistrust and that the dictum, too many cooks spoil the broth still holds a firm grasp in organizational systems. For most companies, team belief is more about gaining more people to agree with one's idea, democratic only once the choices are set. Until another brilliant idea comes by way of the 'anointed one or few'.
However, not all is lost and one could just cite examples of leading companies where true grass roots participation is getting the work done like Mozilla and the recent Barack 2.0 triumph.
On quick thought, we can immediately point to effective leadership and organizational processes at work when speaking about successful crowd-sourced operations. We do agree that it takes specific people skills to inspire and lead teams in successful project implementations whether products and services coupled with right timing and a sprinkle of luck when it comes to having the right people - at the governing level at least.
Yet, how can we explain a spontaneous collective gathering, where systems organization is but limited towards channels to spread information at the least like the Iran protest movement or our very own people power that has become, more than the political tool, a gauge of people's sentiment and a cry for changes. It is true that cynics can always point out the low percentage of successful closures but then it is hardly a reason not to value it's significance. Mr King and Gandhi are testaments that short-term gains isn't a true measure of success.
Lack of current tools like mobile phones, internet and Twitter notwithstanding, it is quite a feat that these movements gained enough steam to challenge prevailing and well-entrenched power seats. Come to think of it, not all movements are against power per se but at its core, against apathy and having the grit to pursue ideals.
And if there's something working for todays social networks to prosper, besides ease of spread, no doubt it has to be transparency. Like having a microscope to evaluate integrity, the web provides the means for people to find out for themselves, to uncover motives in order to obtain that elusive trust which bonds relationships.
A word of caution, though for those in a hurry to profit. There's only one way of judging quality and that's time.
Anything else, and it must be superficial.