Wikinomics

I just finished reading Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, and it’s a book (and cocreated playbook/unwritten chapter) I recommend.

If you want to peek into my notes (er, stream of raw thoughts), please feel free to follow along:

  • Wikinomics embodies four powerful new ideas: openness (i.e. candor, transparency (disclosure of pertinent information), freedom, flexibility, expansiveness, engagement and access), peering (i.e. horizontal, not hierarchical; leveraging self-organization; egalitarianism is the general rule for motivation), sharing (i.e. expanding markets to create new opportunities), and acting globally (i.e. removing insulation and insular thinking; thinking and acting globally–no more think globally and act locally).
  • “This new way or organizing [mass collaboration, aka peer production] will eventually displace the traditional corporate structures as the economy’s primary engine of wealth creation.”
  • Given mass collaboration, what lessons, if any, apply from mass production?
  • “When employees are living in a hierarchical structure there’s a lot of fear. People two or three layers above resist the rules being changed. And with all that fear most people do nothing. They let the hierarchy rule.” -Kal Patel, EVP Strategy, Best Buy
  • Is cooperation treated as a synonym for counter-operation? If not generally, in any specific situations? If so, why? What does this say about your business culture?
  • “The pace of change and evolving demands of customers are such that firms can no longer depend on internal capabilities to meet external needs.” That is, mitigate limited time and limited creativity by going/becoming open.
  • Value chains in terms of participation, results and rewards are seeing their ecosystems flatten. It’s about participation, not control–rivers more than chains (i.e. building trust > controlling; steer/guide/influence > control; “engage and cocreate” versus “plan and push”). Facilitate (embrace) natural convergence.
  • “Conventional wisdom says companies innovate, differentiate, and compete by doing certain things right: by having superior human capital; protecting their intellectual property fiercely; focusing on customers; thinking globally but acting locally; and by executing well (i.e. having good management and controls). But the new business world is rendering each of these principles in sufficient, and in some cases, completely inappropriate.”
  • “The new Web is about verbs, not nouns.” -Ross Mayfield, CEO, Socialtext Assuming this is true, think about grammar–what are the Web’s adverbs and adjectives?
  • Net Generation (Net Gen, aka “web natives”) norms are speed, freedom, openness, innovation, mobility, authenticity and playfulness. Net Gen’ers search for flexibility, identity, ownership, authenticity, and continuous learning. Design for them.
  • With respect to the Net Generation, what you ascribe value to may not be what someone else ascribes value to. Offer choice and respect it. Build trust. For example, with respect to open source software, take the time and pay attention to its culture and processes (e.g. norms, clock speeds, level of technical exchange, responsiveness). Adapt accordingly.
  • It’s about thinking differently. Therefore, attack fundamental assumptions–question everything. Sitting on the fence…belongs to isolation. Only the connected will survive (e.g. web immigrants with web natives, and vice versa).
  • Embracing open source should be strategic, not tactical. “Embracing open source means embracing new mental models and new ways of conceptualizing value creation.” Don’t lose sight of where the value comes from, create new value to harvest it, and earn your harvest, too!
  • Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself continues to make more and more sense…
  • “Smart companies will treat the world as their R&D department and use ideagoras to seek out ideas, innovations, and uniquely qualified minds on a global basis.”
  • What things outside can be acquired? What things inside can be licensed? Apply fresh perspective (e.g. is XYZ a scalable asset or trade secret?).
  • Shift away from “everything invented here” toward “nothing invented here.” Take back NIH as a sign of health, not cancer.
  • Threadless.com is a good example of leadership to me.
  • To paraphrase Jim Griffin, “You can hold more in an open hand than you can in a closed fist.”
  • Success breeds complacency. Beware also cultural inertia, complex legacies, political wrangling, etc.
  • “Open up your platforms to increase the speed, scope, and success of innovation. Choose not to open up and you risk ceding the game to more nimble platform orchestrators. The question every business leader in every sector should be asking is: How do I make my organization a platform for participation? How, when, and where do I open up my business? And how do I attract an energetic group of people to share the innovation load?”
  • Good enough: adequate to participate or to enable participation–versus over-engineered
  • All innovation is ultimately cumulative.
  • In the past I’ve talked about work a fair bit between points and vectors, where a vector is more valuable in that it conveys direction and magnitude (e.g. where a particular architecture is intended to be taken and how far it can capably do so). My mental picture is growing, though, to account for not just internal vectors but external vectors, too. By accounting for unforeseen drivers and markets through collaboration and openness, direction can be adapted, for example, to achieve results of greater magnitude.
            Point vs. vector vs. vectors
  • “The companies that figure out how to harness the power of open platforms while providing adequate incentives to all stakeholders are poised to reap great rewards.”
  • Commoditize the technology of others while monetizing it yourself (e.g. search – Alexa (Amazon) versus Google, Yahoo, MSFT–soon Wikia may do likewise to all of the above, ECM – Alfresco versus IBM, EMC, Oracle, MSFT, and RDBMS – MySQL versus Oracle, MSFT, IBM).
  • Is this about a culture of generosity or a smoke screen for exploitation? Consider again, Om Malik’s blog post. Avoid commoditization of your time.
  • Customer cocreation is underexploited generally. View customers as central change agents.
  • “Always strive to be the best at what your customers value most and partner for everything else.” Recall Geoff Moore (Dealing with Darwin) and maintain vigilance over core versus non-core (context)–constantly evaluate core competencies (e.g. user experience) in light of customer feedback.
  • “We are shifting from closed and hierarchical workplaces with rigid employment relationships to increasingly self-organized, distributed, and collaborative human capital networks that draw knowledge and resources from inside and outside the firm.”
  • “Work has become more cognitively complex, more team-based and collaborative, more dependent on social skills, more time pressured, more reliant on technological competence, more mobile, and less dependent on geography.”
  • Stability is dead.

Update 8/11/2007: Wikinomics provides an example of how Best Buy’s Geek Squad agents are already doing this–if you’re willing to consider “an approach to customer service” as a form of architecture.

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.

-Craig
http://craigrandall.net/
@craigsmusings