Lavoy & Knowlton Keynote: Purpose or Perish [#e2conf]

Debra Lavoy (Director, Product Marketing, Digital and Social Media, OpenText) and Tyler Knowlton (Chief Strategist on Digital Innovation for the Chief Trade Commissioner, Dept of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Government of Canada) discuss how critical meaning is for engagement. They go so far as to say we either need to find purpose or perish.

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2011 in Boston.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Why Purpose MattersWith a strong sense of purpose, people work harder and better. Without it, they lack engagement and often end up in confusion. Only a strong sense of shared purpose can overcome personal politics. In fact, OpenText has found that the single best predictor of success in a deployment is the strength of purpose of the team involved.
  • OpenText PrizeOpenText is offering a prize to the organization that can demonstrate how important a shared purposes has been their success. The prize is a $10,000 contribution of a charity of the winner’s choice.
  • Learning from the G20 Experience.The G20 is a summit of the leaders of the biggest economies to discuss the state of the global economy. The summit has a rotating chairmanship, however, there was no shared knowledge base. Therefore, each summit host country effectively has to start from scratch. As a practical matter, this means that knowledge is shared via email. When Canada became chair and host, Knowlton’s team first focused on “digital diplomacy,” but then were asked to find a better way to create a knowledge base. It started because the Canadian delegate was “sick of email.” He asked Knowlton’s team to come up with a solution that could be Canada’s legacy gift to the G20 organization. This led them to a cloud-based online solution that allowed G20 participants to communicate and collaborate. (They partnered with OpenText on this.) As they moved to this more ambitious purpose, the team became more adventurous, more confident, more decisive adn more creative. The project was so successful that the Knowlton’s team has been retained to advise each of the countries that has succeeded Canada as chair and host.

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