Agree with her or not, Deb Lavoy's articles have stirred debate in the last year, which is just what she wants to do. We interviewed Deb to learn a little bit more about our top contributor of 2012.

An Interview with Deb Lavoy

CMSWire: What first brought you to the social business and collaboration realm?

Deb Lavoy: In 1999, I was on two teams. Each populated by very smart people. One was awesome and could do anything and the other was miserable and couldn't do anything. I wanted to know what the difference was, and to see what I could do to make sure that every team could be team awesome.

CMSWire: What project are you working on now that you'd like the readers to know about? 

Deb: I'm working on a book about how we are inventing organizations that can "think" -- where employees become organic parts of a whole rather than cogs in a machine, so they can take on the complexity and velocity of the world and thrive.

The book explores themes of purpose, leadership, complexity, collaboration, innovation and marketing at both theoretical and gritty practical levels. (My real wish for 2013 is that I finish it and you read it.)

CMSWire: What excites you most about your field today?

Deb: For years there was little hard science, almost no useful theory, and even less good technology that really helped people to work, understand, engage and contribute. We knew it was awful and wasteful, but we didn't really question it.

Now now we're learning so fast, it's amazing, and it matters -- it matters to business, government, academia, world peace, to people as individuals and the economy as a whole. It's a second renaissance of a sort.

Intellectualism is more democratized, people's lives are improving because we are asking good questions, and answering them. We are navigating by intuition, data and trial and error in equal parts. How could you not be excited?

CMSWire: Was there ever an "aha" moment in your career and if so, what was it?

Deb: An endless succession of them. The most important one was when I had a manager who believed in me so much, that I couldn't help but believe it too (thanks, Anthony). And then this online magazine started publishing my articles ...

CMSWire: What would your one or two biggest wishes for the industry be for 2013?

Deb: In 2013, I hope that organizations and people get more comfortable with the idea that certainty is the enemy of collaboration, innovation and progress. It is only by being brave enough to ask a question -- to show uncertainty -- that anything important gets done.

CMSWire: Is there anything else our readers should know about you?

If you aren't challenging what I say, then I think I'm not getting to you. If I'm not arguing with you, you aren't getting to me.

Speed Round: 6 things you should know about Deb

1. Right now I am reading

"The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," by Thomas Khun and a detective novel (a new one every day or two).

2. Quote to live by

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" -- FDR

3. The best word ever said

David Brooks is one of my favorite users of the English language. I think his definition of Metis -- the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations -- is a sublime new to me word. Equipoise would be a runner up.

4. When not working

I am reading, cooking, swimming or arguing.

5. Word that should be struck from the dictionary


6. Best song ever sung

Too many to list just one -- Avalon's, "I'm speechless," The Beatles, "Dear Prudence," Joan Osborne's "One of Us," "Ode to Joy." Was probably never recorded.