Cognitive Surplus

This is a connecting-the-dots post. Jim McGee discusses Clay Shirky’s recommendation to start looking at how we can leverage “cognitive surplus”:

The first order of business for business is to immediately appropriate Shirky’s term. Organizations that care about innovation and adaptive capacity should begin talking about “cognitive surplus”. Look for ways to measure it, if only crudely, and increase it.

Dave Pollard also talks about the need to spend time making sense of data and that by 2020 this will become a full-time vocation for some people:

The main complaint from businesspeople and the public about information in 2020? This hasn’t changed since 2008 — it’s still information overload. But at least in 2020 the value of information intermediaries has been rediscovered — people who are skilled at (and have time to) ‘make sense’ of the raw information coming at us in unmanageable amounts. And as a result a little more attention is paid to the meaning, implications and possible actions that stem from all this information.

More people are working in creative fields today, because if your work is not creative then it will likely be outsourced to a cheaper labour market or done by a computer. That makes creativity a more valuable skill, but being creative isn’t something you can just turn on and off. Just ask any artist.

The notion of cognitive surplus now becomes a critical business attribute. How do I stay creative and therefore competitive? Some companies give you time to pursue other activities but the norm is to look busy while “at work”.

The notion that moving from consuming broadcast media to creating interactive media is now engaging a new generation is quite fascinating. Just think of all the hours spent watching TV that can now be used to generate ideas – some good and many bad – but they’re being generated on an enormous scale. Now take this idea one step further and think of all the time wasted in the workplace just consuming – listening at meetings; reading directives, waiting for someone else to make a decision; commuting; etc. Imagine what could happen when an entire organisation can use all of its cognitive surplus.

Select Your Comment Platform

4 Responses to “Cognitive Surplus”

  1. Jon Husband

    Now take this idea one step further and think of all the time wasted in the workplace just consuming – listening at meetings; reading directives, waiting for someone else to make a decision; commuting; etc.

    I know you know all that time is not wasted … we can think and connect dots anytime, anywhere. It’s good to have that slack, but consider it as useful as opposed to artificially drawing (sometimes stress-causing) boundaries between what, when and how we do things … no ?

    Reply
  2. Harold

    Agree, Jon. I’m not advocating the creation of more artificial boundaries. My thoughts are more about how to add more slack and have it considered a good thing by the organisation. It’s still a half-baked idea …

    Reply
  3. jay cross

    Clay’s words were still echoing in my mind when I met with a group of managers the following week. The corporate equivalent of zoning out with television is planning, fretting about the inconsequential, worrying about other people’s business, fearing the worst, gaining agreement on issues that don’t require it, etc. My takeaway from Clay fits everyone: get off the couch and start doing stuff.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Spam Protection by WP-SpamShield