Take your foot off First:
Playing in the SmarterCape Cod League
April 29 2011

by tmartin on April 29, 2011

YOU KNOW SPRING  has sprung when your schedule is, once again, defined by softball. As in, driving your child to various fields and practice venues. Yeah rah rah spring!

On the plus side, it pushes me into new territories, outside my natural comfort zone. That’s a good thing. And it’s how it happened that I found myself staring at an inspirational poster hanging outside a batting cage: You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.

You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.

I like that.

Sports-girl, I’m not … but reasoned risk taker? Count me in.

I’m deep in the middle of working on an event called SmarterCape Summit (http://www.smartercapesummit.com). SmarterCape draws together leaders and doers from across the greater Cape region to find ways to work smarter, work together, and use new opportunities to solve challenges.

We’ve got a convergence of events providing a real point of inflection, a point much like that moment in the poster where we have to decide if we’re going to stay comfortably on first … or steal second and move ahead.

OpenCape fiber is getting ready to roll. Within 18 months, we’ll have an open access infrastructure for data that we’ve never had before. It’s kinda’ like we’re jumping from 1975 to the 21st century in one leap.

Economic pressures mean that our businesses have to change to compete; our communities and municipalities have to change to stay effective.

Water and wastewater and water lawsuits loom. Using data and monitoring and technology and broadband connections might let us address them … but that means changing business as usual.

We’ve got some of the highest energy costs in the country and we all know the pain of little brownouts. Our energy policies might feel familiar – but we’re not winning the game with them.

We can just sit back and let events unfold around us. Or, we can look at opportunities and put Second in our sights.

Change is scary. Change is hard work. Change might fail. Isn’t it better to just sit tight and wait all out?

Sports are just filled with inspirational – albeit a bit corny – metaphors. Hard work. Teamwork. Risk taking.

Another phase caught my eye there in the batting cage waiting area. Baseball: the sport where 50% success makes heroes.

In the spirit of spring, in the sprit of SmarterCape, stop and think about that for a moment. If you succeed 50% of the time, you are a success. That means you took a chance – and failed 50% of the time. But the time you succeeded made you a hero.

We’re not up batting in the literal sense, but in a metaphorical way we are at bat every day, out there swinging to grow our businesses and make our region a healthy and vibrant place. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather work on pushing the envelope and finding success than forfeiting the game because it felt safer.

Talent and natural assets are great. We have them here aplenty. But that will only get us so far. We’ll thrive in the 21st century by honing the talent, keeping the assets strong, and being sure we’re using them in current and forward looking ways.

Dynasties – in sports, in families, in business – grow not by inertia but by active recruitment of new talent and techniques. As a region, we want to hold onto the values while at the same time updating the way we support those values.

It’s not that we’re not doing good things already – we are! It’s not that we aren’t smart – we are! But our challenge and our opportunity lie in being smartER.

That means working smarter by using new tools, working smarter by collaborating in new ways, working smarter by defining new models and pushing aside traditional silos. Working smarter by taking a chance.

SmarterCape Summit is May 09 and May 10 at Wequassett Resort. The event itself represents some envelope pushing. Four host partners – the Cape Cod Commission, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Cod Technology Council, and OpenCape – combined force to show by doing – to show what together we can accomplish as a team.

Familiar faces are speaking – as well as new voices and national voices. Keynoter Dr. Sharon Nunes is IBM’s VP for Smarter Cities Strategy and Solutions. That’s cool. What’s even cooler is that she grew up in the region – and her home base is on the Cape. She’s proof that we can balance the best of both worlds – we can embrace our core values and work globally at the time.

Community Media will stream some sessions live, via web, as well as making them available on public access channels.

Registration happens online. Mingling happens in person … and in virtual forums.

A range of supporters, from the Cape Cod Economic Development Council to CapeNet to IBM to the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank to dozens of others helped bring the event to the region, enabling people to participate at minimal cost. It’s not just the usual suspects doing the same old thing. I mean, when was the last time you saw UC Synergetic and Eastern Bank support the same effort on the Cape?

It’s called teamwork. It’s called winning. It’s called working together to work smarter.

Yup, that poster is right. It’s time to peel our regional foot of first and take a running dive to second — belly to the ground, a cloud of dust in the air, reaching out to take a chance … because that’s the only way we’ll make it home.

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