Blockchain is a technology that promotes trust, transparency and consensus between parties, so it would seem like it has a clear advantage when it comes to bringing people together in a strong community. In many ways I’ve found that to be true – I believe there is an incredible amount of unity and willingness to work together here in Alberta’s blockchain ecosystem.
Through my role as Executive Director of the Alberta Blockchain Consortium (ABC), I’ve been so amazed at how eager people in the community are to get involved and push with determination toward a common goal, and that includes members of government and industry as well as blockchain companies. There is a definite excitement about the promise the technology holds for our economy – optimizing our industries and creating a world-class reputation for innovation are just some of the benefits.
My mentor and dear friend, the late Suzanne West, saw this vision for blockchain’s potential to help transform Alberta years ago. Always at the vanguard of new cleantech developments in the energy industry, she saw the need for a stronger and better technology ecosystem to support our main economic drivers and help diversify our economy. And her slogan – People, Planet and Profit – couldn’t have been a better fit with the amazing things that blockchain can do for building consensus, helping our environment and creating a more prosperous economy.
However, within every industry there are always challenges to creating ecosystems that work, and blockchain is no different. Like any other community, we struggle to agree on key issues, keep our path aligned on a clear direction, and simply stay organized with the enormous amount of coordination that our many moving pieces requires.
But as the positive impact of blockchain ecosystems around the world from Malta to Singapore demonstrates, the benefits are well worth the effort. As head of the ABC, I’ve learned some great tips throughout what continues to be a hugely rewarding learning experience. So, what are some of the critical building blocks to effective technology communities?
1. Creating Genuine Engagement
When I look around the room at an ABC event or meeting, I’m often struck by how excited people are and how eager our community is to take time out of their busy lives and support our mission to build a thriving blockchain ecosystem. There are many contributing factors– the technology itself is undeniably cool – but beyond that, we’ve made sure that people’s roles align with their personal interests and passions, and there’s a higher purpose structured into everything we do. By combining the needs of our volunteers with the understanding that we’re building a future that will benefit all of Alberta, and that makes for real engagement.
2. Building Bridges
some of the lessons here apply to other ecosystems, too. For example, take a blockchain transaction – you need various counter-parties, maybe in completely different industries, to agree on a platform and terms, along with defining the role of services providers, sometimes interacting with government regulators, and a host of other factors. That’s why blockchain consortia – a form of ecosystem – are so crucial. Industry, government, blockchain application providers, and even non-profits all need to be connected, aligned and able to effectively communicate with each other, and this foundation is a major value the ABC offers.
3. An Inclusive Sandbox
Communities are all about togetherness, shared values and a common purpose, and inclusivity is at the core of every effective ecosystem. Cliques are closed systems that often fail to evolve, falling victim to groupthink and entropy – a continual influx of new perspectives and ideas is essential for growth and innovation. In Alberta, we strive to encourage people from all backgrounds and knowledge levels, especially women and those from underrepresented groups in the tech industry, to join in and help us build our community. You never know who will spark an amazing idea that could change the world.
4. Presence and Promotion
What good is an amazing industry and ecosystem if no one knows about it? Canadians – especially Albertans – are known to be modest people who rarely like to shout their achievements from the rooftop. But when it comes to establishing a new technology, we need to let the world know about its potential and our innovative solutions, and this is where the ABC comes in. We’re highly focused on supporting our ecosystem through promotion on social media, at our regular events, by representing our community at national and international conferences, and conventional media channels like industry publications and newswires.
5. Organization, Organization and More Organization
This last part might not sound very exciting, but it honestly is one of the biggest secrets to the ABC’s success. Our incredible volunteers – including board members and directors, more than 30 – all have defined roles and give us so much support in our efforts to build a strong ecosystem. However, we’re all active people with hectic careers and it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. A strong system of organization and accountability, including project management software, can do wonders for keeping people on track and moving in the same direction.
I truly believe that by staying united and always keeping our long-term goals in mind, Alberta’s blockchain ecosystem can become a leader in building innovative new solutions for at home and export, gaining adoption in industry, and giving our province a major competitive advantage when it comes to sectors like agriculture and energy. The great work our blockchain companies and organizations do has the power to benefit all of Alberta and deserves our strong support.
On September 12th, the ABC is hosting a world-class conference showcasing some of these exciting blockchain developments created right here in Alberta. Join us for the Alberta Blockchain Summit to learn about the many ways that blockchain technologies can help transform our economy, give rise to a stronger technology sector and make our province internationally known for our unique, in-demand expertise.
Visit us to learn more and register for the Summit: