In my regular daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad an article was published Monday last by Karen van der Wiel, Bas ter Weel and Casper van Ewijk called

[translation RPD] “Exactly, science has no revenue in our economic policy analysis”. See original article in Dutch: Klopt, wetenschap levert niets op in model CPB

Their main gripe is that our politicians do not put extra money into science for it does not show any economic growth impact in the macro economic models used by the CPB, the Dutch national bureau used by our Dutch political system – both government and political parties – to base their policies on; even though the same politicians recognize the importance of science for future developments in society and economy. The revenues can not be measured so they are not part of the model. The same reasoning holds for other political topics like social security, healthcare, infrastructure, culture and the military forces. NB Funnily, I have often said to my clients:”what you measure, is what you judge, is what you steer. So be conscious about what you measure!”, an other version “How you measure, is how you judge, is how you steer. So be conscious about how you measure!”

To me this embodies exactly the problem we have with current decision making, both in companies and in politics. We only look at our own little direct economic calculus exspressed in money without tanking into account the externalities we impose on others while taking for granted that we can make use of the huge benefits stemming from the build up of “social capital” being a free rider of collaborability while grabbing all the profits for our selves.

The above mentioned topics are all fitting in to what I have dubbed “collaborability“. My holy grail is to get to a quantifiable model (not necessarily in money or economic terms!) that combines the collaborative space and externalities with the economic models used by governments and, as a consequence, our companies. Holy grails are normally not found, or at least never during ones lifetime… What I try to add is a body of knowledge and insights translated into a coherent model that better balances societies interests while being able to better understand how new developments are having an impact on our society – and companies and citizens. I have published a first draft of the model some weeks ago.

When externalities like pollution where brought up some decades ago as being relevant when making political or business decisions – or personal decisions for that matter – it took many years to build some social awareness that we need to incorporate these type of externalities in our doings if we are not to destroy our living environment. We still have not managed an elegant and workable way to link individual decisions with the externalities they will cause in a way it will influence the decision up front.

It is my conviction that the changes invoked by the interconnected world will have an incredible impact on our abilities to collaborate, on collaborability. Even without being able to quantify these impacts having a coherent idea of what collaborability and its dynamics are can help us steer these developments in the interest of our society as a whole and for the actors in it.

We will have to walk the same probably very long path with collaborability as it was done with externalities.

The better we understand our world (by incorporating collaborability in this case) and the better we understand how we as Man and Men are the better we can make the right choices.

(From the slide deck used at my guest lecture on Collaborability at Twente University last week)