Admiral Thad Allen on the New Information Age

Admiral Thad Allen was the response coordinator for  9/11, Katrina and the BP Oil Spill.  When asked, by HBR in November, 2010, how the amount of publicly available information had affected how he lead in these crisis he responded:

Social media and the 24 hour news cycle are part of a fundamental change in our sociological structure.  John Holdren, who's the science and technology advisor to the president, says that there are three ways to deal with climate change:  Adapt, manage, or suffer.  I believe that what's happening with information is no less profound and challenging, and therefore the same options apply.  We all have to understand that there will never again be a major event in this country that won't involve public participation.   And the public participation will happen whether it's managed or not.  We've chosen to try to adapt and manage.  Before the oil spill, I  had already started blogging and tweeting.

The impact of the availability and pervasiveness of information is no less profound in the business world.  All industries are changing and adapting, not the least of which is the financial services industry.  More people are sourcing their own deals–witness Angel's List and Crowd Sourcing–and this will continue to be much more prevalent.

Whole new industries anda companies have emerged.  Who heard of "Social Media" before 2004?  Facebook was founded in 2004, WordPress, a popular blogging software, emerged in 2005.  LinkedIn was founded in 2003.

I don't know where it will lead us, but we all must be ready to continue to source, and cull that information as well as adapt and bend.