Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Celebrating Collaboration in Chile

I am writing this as the 13th miner to be rescued from beneath a half-mile of solid rock is about to emerge into the Chilean sunshine, after spending more than two months in a collapsed mine.

We’ve written in Convene about how collaboration and crowdsourcing will help us reach our business goals, and make our meetings and conferences more effective, But the rescue operation helps to clarify -- in a profoundly meaningful way -- what's at stake. Working together and sharing knowledge allow us to accomplish things that seem absolutely impossible and connect us at the deepest levels.

The most visible symbol of collaboration is the rescue capsule, built by a joint effort of NASA and the Chilean Navy, but throughout the ordeal, the 33 miners’ hopes of survival have rested on a network of people, starting with themselves: For the 17 days before the miners were contacted by rescuers, they created brilliant strategies for their survival, while eating just two teaspoons of tuna and a biscuit every two days, washed down with a sip of milk.

A few minutes ago, a CNN news anchor interviewed J.D. Polk, NASA’s chief of medicine, and asked him what he would single out as a the key to the rescue efforts success. I am paraphrasing, but Polk praised the way the Chilean government split up the rescue operation into many parts, and then sought expert help.

It’s not over yet, Polk cautioned. That’s true, but it’s also time to celebrate.

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