Nobel prize for Obama – Why I think it is a good thing.

Friday’s announcement of the 2009 Nobel peace prize award to Obama has drawn much comment around the globe The comments are driving introspection and reflection at mulitple levels — as witnessed by blogposts and Facebook conversations. The notion of peace is being examined and dissected and I suspect weekend conversations are going to be really interesting. In itself, this is a success for the Nobel committee!

Rambling through the blogosphere, I see my own reflections from different perspectives – starting from from the banal “what has he done to deserve this” to the business consultant in me “how do we measure success” and to the digital citizen in me “the role of new media technologies in generating debate and participation” .

What has he done: In the short time he has been in office, he has shut down the Guantanamo prison, as the first US president to chair a UN Summit he has secured a unanimous resolution on nuclear disarmament, he has supported dialogue with Iran and the discussion table, addressing the Muslim world from Cairo, challenging the situation in the Middle East — just to name a few. These are good enough for me.

How do we measure success: After the immediate WTF and knee-jerk “the award is premature”-reaction, I was embarrassed. Embarassed, because as a planning and strategy consultant I expound the values of setting direction and thinking tactically in a strategic manner — beyond just focussing on what is delivered. Delivery and execution are critical, but recently strategy thinking has been reduced to glossy-talk that is devoid of vision (like slow food, I hope we get “slow strategy” :-)). I now see the Nobel committee’s award in that light; taking a bold step to interpret Nobel’s intentions for the 21st century. They were rewarding Obama for the direction he set, for the vision he creates by small actions. One man alone cannot do but one can certainly envision. Ultimately they are rewarding a vision that is open and can be adopted by anyone. And that is the real value of the award for me — “placing a responsibility” not only Obama, but on every head of state and every citizen of the world who shares that vision. A vision of a more equitable world, a world where conflict is resolved by dialogue and non-violence, a world where people are energized so that they can make a difference. If nothing else, the award has reenergized the world in a “Yes, we can” attitude. (Aside: I wish I had statistics on how many countries and communities have been energized by the Obama presidential campaign). So Yes, the Nobel committee have acted in a very strategic manner.

New media technologies in generating participation: After my first post to the BBC-website, when this award was announced. I have been reading blogs, newspaper sites, TV programs and Facebook comments. I was struck by how little attention I paid to mainstream networks. I googled using Google’s Fastflip and got the gist of what they were saying and got a lot more background. But then, it was the blogs, tweets and Facebook conversations that caught my eye. Social media technologies are engaging people more than ever and Friday’s award tells me that all that is needed is something really visionary to generate a debate and to involve and include. Society 2.0 is here and going global every day (Yeah, I know I said I would not use the 2.0 term, it now evokes new-thinking and I’m happy :-))

A note on the Nobel peace prize would not be complete if I did not mention my disappointment that the Nobel committee failed to a true innovator in peace — Mahatma Gandhi. See this article for some context. Speaking of the Mahatma, Albert Einstein puts it best “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

About francisds

I guide clients in making strategic choices of technology to bring about dramatic change in how they engage with their constituents. I work by facilitating the generation ideas, shaping og concepts business opportunities that lead to solutions that people use - directly or indirectly. My specialization is in the design of collaboration and data-sharing solutions. I thrive with deconstructing complex activities. I am passionate about societal innovation and large scale business to community collaboration.
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