Don’t get left out of the future

Almost two years ago I was making an argument to a buddy of mine but I wasn't aware of the term that encapsulated the idea I had in my head. We were discussing Texas football and I was making the argument that the program could do a much better job of turning lemons into lemonade. Everyone always jokes about how critical Texas fans are of their football and how willing they are to lend their opinions. Well as a result the contribution of fan ideas are very inaccessible to the program. Well the term I was looking for I now have learned was Web 2.0 and the organizations and individuals who embrace it will be successful.

It is my prediction that success in the future will be as a result of accessibility, transparency, and accountability. These three things can come easily and cheaply in the form of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 isn't an actual thing it's a term to describe the second wave of web services and a truly web-based community. Think about what things are exploding right now. Social networks like MySpace and Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, and podcasts. User created content that is made available through interconnected web communities. This is how society communicates and entertains itself now.

I've been reading a corporate blog lately by a guy who runs a company that specializes in helping companies get started with employee blogs. While employee blogs are a PR nightmare in terms of liability they are provide credible insight and personality. Companies like Microsoft, Boeing, GE, Google, and Sun now all have employee blogs in some form or another.

I have two examples of instances where individuals and organizations have embraced this Web 2.0 type environment. The first, as sacrilegious as this is to type, is Texas A&M's AD Bill Byrne. Byrne isn't really an Aggie, he just got the job a couple years ago out of Nebraska, so I have never really felt bad for secretly liking him. I'm still a huge DeLoss Dodds fan and he owns Byrne on the field but Byrne kicks Dodds' ass as far as Web 2.0 is concerned.

When Byrne got to A&M he started Bill Byrne's Wednesday Weekly. Now the website is a piece of shit and those farmers don't know to call it or format it as a blog but the concept and content are right. In a post a couple years ago Byrne responded to emails from Aggies who wanted to paint the stands at Kyle field maroon and they wanted the situation with the orange, GOD FORBID, Gatorade jugs on the sideline fixed. He acknowledged receiving the emails and then responded to both explaining to those idiots exactly why they wouldn't do either. Fair enough. In his latest post he open's up the books to the athletic department and discloses their budget, actual expenses, and actual revenue.

My second example is with Mark Cuban. He makes himself very easily accessible via email which he uses religiously. I've emailed him a couple of times and he generally responds within hours, pretty impressive. When he didn't pony up the dough for Nash he went on his blog and explained why. When he made the decision to use the amnesty clause and cut Finley last summer he explained to his customers essentially why he made that decision. When Kenny and Charles ripped the Mavs for how they defended the Suns pick-and-roll on opening night, Cuban went on his blog and broke down the percentages of how teams had defended Phoenix and what their actual rate of success was.

Accessible, transparent in your decisions, and accountable for the decisions you make. Mack Brown is always very accountable for what happens on the field and I love that about him. But as far as the program and the department on the whole are concerned, how about some insight into their philosophy behind stadium expansion. How about some insight into what the hell is going on with Texas-OU in Dallas. How about some insight into why guys are jumping ship on the men's basketball team.

The era of secret decision-making is over. Web 2.0 will leave those behind. Everyone talks a big game about how they're dedicated to their customers but then they refuse to get feedback from them and deny them communication. And I'll leave you with this thought. For the most part I kept this post light heartened in discussing Web 2.0 in the context of sports programs.

What do you think is the future of these 3 traits in politics? There will always be areas where secrecy is a must (national defense) but everything else is fair game.

*Cue Washington bumrushing*



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