Great news! Your brain is shrinking. More on that in a minute…
First, I’d like to welcome all of you—current NextSpace members, former NextSpace members, fans of NextSpace, and others who are involved in the future of work—to the first installment of my monthly message/column/random musings. As the CEO of NextSpace, I spend a lot of time thinking about the (r)evolution of Work. There is a once-in-a-century shift in the how’s, why’s and where’s of working, and it’s happening now. I hope to share some of the things that I’ve learned in these monthly messages. Of course, I’m hoping that my words spark a conversation or two, so please chime in with your own ideas, solutions, and musings. And don’t be afraid to be a bit snarky and provocative. I know I won’t….
Right, so, your brain is shrinking. In fact, all of our brains are. You don’t need to look much further than Congress, the executive offices of all the major banks, and most AM radio talk shows to see the evidence of this reduced brainpower. Current trends aside, this reduction in brain size isn’t new. As Wall St. Journal columnist Matt Ridleyrecently pointed out, the size of the human brain peaked about 20,000 years ago at about 1,500 cubic centimeters. Since then, our brains have shrunk a good 10%, down to about 1,350 cc’s today.
So why is this good news? Ridley gets it right when he says, “We ceased relying on individual brain power tens of thousands of years ago. Our civilization now gets all of its inventive and creative power from the linking of brains into networks. Our future depends on being clever not individually, but collectively.” If we’re to continue to survive and thrive as a species (and get ourselves out of this economic mess), we’re going to have to do it together.
Here’s the problem: when it comes to work (presumably, the place where all of this collective cleverness will happen), more and more of us are working alone. We work alone in our homes (your cat doesn’t count). We work alone in coffee shops (that creepy dude eyeing you while licking the latte foam from his lips doesn’t count). And we even work alone at work, our employers lovingly stashing us away in our cubicles. Hardly conducive to the network of brains that Ridley talks about.
Sure, technology can help. Smart phones, ubiquitous wifi, Skype, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all wonderful tools that connect us virtually. But technology evolves way faster than people do. And, despite the power of our virtual connections, I firmly submit that people are at their creative and productive best when they are in physical proximity to each other. I believe in the power of real, live, genuine physical community so strongly that I co-founded a company—yep, NextSpace—based on this age-old idea. So far, so good.
About a month ago, we asked our members to share their best stories of the NextSpace Effect, the collective cleverness that results from being part of the NextSpace community. My team and I were blown away by the stories that our members told us. Here are a few highlights:
- Barbara Feder Ostrov, an online magazine editor, told us that being part of the NextSpace community “saved my sanity, restored my confidence, and made me better at my job.”
- Peter Myers, a social media entrepreneur, told us, “Because of the NextSpace Effect, we launched our company 10 months ahead of schedule and saved close to $100,000.”
- Because of the support he found among his fellow NextSpace members, John Wolanin quit his day job and founded the mobile company Live Nite. We teared up when John told us, “Thank you NextSpace for being the stepping stone to my career and helping to change my life.”
So thank goodness for these shrinking brains of ours. It’s what drives us to seek out the connections, support, and collaboration that all 650 (and growing) NextSpace members provide to each other every day. If you’re a NextSpace member, thank you for the dedication you have to your individual and collective success. If you’re not a member, please consider joining us. If you’re a politician or policymaker that purports to care about creating jobs by creating the conditions of creativity and innovation, keep a close eye on NextSpace and companies like ours. We are the(r)evolution of work.
What are you doing to foster collective cleverness?
Thanks for believing in NextSpace. Thanks for being part of the (R)evolution of work. And thanks for believing in each other.