The hi:project, social business and Flat Army

Dan Pontefract Flat Army and the hi:project
I help organisations work better, so how on Earth is that connected to the hi:project? Given I dedicate not a small fraction of my time to this non-profit endeavour, I'm asked on occasion to explain how the two are related.

The 'HI' of the hi:project stands for human interface. It's our way of describing the technology we think should and will largely supplant the user interface, the UI. Here's how I've begun to explain it of late ...

When we approach digital, we have a natural propensity to digitize the pre-digital; after all, that is all we know. That's how we ended up sticking an 'e' in front of mail for example, and went from having desktops, files and folders to, well, desktops, files and folders.

Yet digital has unprecedented qualities – it just takes us a while to discover and exploit them. It's only with the passing of decades for example that organisations can now explore alternatives to email. And filing stuff looks increasingly anachronistic with the power of near-instant search at our fingertips.

In the same way, the UI is attached to the digital machine / service today because pre-digital physical machines had a physical interface.

The hi:project moves the interface between you and the machine away from the machine, through those eager intermediaries, all the way to you. Yes, instead of having to adapt to each and every interface, each and every machine / service now effectively adapts to you.

I'll grant you the vision is ambitious, yet it demands no new tech. We have all the ingredients we need to cook this up together today, and there are some serious motivations beyond the mere 'wouldn't it be nice if'. In fact we think it helps address some of the most pressing challenges facing our use of the interwebs and its future manifestations, including those raised just this past week at Davos (reports in Techcrunch and the FT for example).

As you might imagine, a lot of time is invested in considering the interface between companies (more specifically their machines) and their customers, and that relationship is pivotal to the mechanism by which I think we can get this ball rolling. Yet to return to the question I set out to answer here, the HI impacts all manner of relationships we have with each other and with organisations (combinations of others).

The hi:project aspires to make the interface that's 'perfectly yours'. For every facet of every life. Customer. Employee. Citizen. Patient. Student. Etc.

Social business is about all variety of stakeholders coming together to add mutual value faster than otherwise, with the help of social technologies, appropriately transformed culture, and a network orientation rather than command and control. It's co-creation with customers, partners, suppliers, everyone, constantly striving to find the right combination to best pursue shared objectives, guided by shared values.

I have referred to the tech augmentation to achieve this the 'Organized Self', a human- rather than company-centric perspective.

More prosaically, BYOD (bring your own device) is already an established trend... I simply extend that to include the digital interface one has onto / into organisation. The ramifications begin to blur the definition of employee and 'the firm', but that will do for now. I hope I've answered the question.

Fortunately, and indeed most reassuringly, I'm far from alone. Jon Husband gets it: "A new chapter of the internet’s impact on human society". And as you can see from the lead image here, so does Dan Pontefract :-)

2 thoughts on “The hi:project, social business and Flat Army

What do you think?...