Yesterday, Disney announced that it had acquired LucasFilms for approximately $4 billion. For those who don't know, LucasFilms owns the rights the Star Wars franchise. This means that Star Wars characters like Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, et. al join forces with other characters in the Disney family including those created by Pixar (ex: Buzz and Woody) and Marvel (ex: Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, etc.).
While many people have balked at the idea that Disney could successfully embrace some diametrically opposing concepts as those established in Star Wars with kid friendly fair shown on Clubhouse Mickey, I think this is an excellent learning opportunity for emergency managers. Much like the rabid fans of Star Wars, many emergency managers struggle with change. Some of this is because we have long-standing systems based on best practices, while others struggle simply because we don't have the time to consider the issues that come with significant change. However, most emergency managers also acknowledge that our jobs would be impossible without collaboration -- both new and established -- with non-governmental organizations and other community groups.
While these relationships are very strong and successful in most communities, they can often lack creativity and spontaneous energy often seen in online communities. By leveraging social media and its related tools, emergency managers can begin to create new and energetic relationships to address a variety of issues that are impacting a local community. For example, volunteer initiatives like Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST) or aggregation and educational organizations like Humanity Road are providing amazing results that probably can only be created when you put traditional systems in new environments. The tension and energy is contagious and ultimately beneficial to the community.
So if an online community or social media system presents an opportunity, don't be afraid to reach out and be changed for the good in the process.
PS: I enjoy blogging, but never thought I'd have the opportunity to write about emergency management, Darth Vader, Buzz Lightyear, and Captain America in the same posting!