The Economist: Thriving in the Collaborative Age


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Keynote at The Economist's 'The Big Rethink' Summit on how to thrive in the collaborative age of social media, the digital revolution and the rewired world it is forming.

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The Economist: Thriving in the Collaborative Age

  1. 1. In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. Charles Darwin The Economist Nick Jankel The Big Rethink 1 Wednesday, March 10, 2010
  2. 2. Thriving in the collaborative age The Economist Nick Jankel The Big Rethink 2 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 I have 12 or so minutes to take you on a rapid ride through the landscape of the collaborative age - and its impact on organizations. I also want to share with you some of the defining characteristics of individuals and companies that thrive in the wikified world.
  3. 3. hierarchy 3 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Our story begins in the 30s, here in Detroit at the home of General Motors. Alfred Sloan had become CEO and invented a management solution to the challenges of vast industrial scale.
  4. 4. command and control Wednesday, March 10, 2010 4 Command and control management. Line mangers, economic evaluations, KPIs. These became the norm of modern business the world over.
  5. 5. authoritarian marketing 5 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Consumers were sold dreams and encouraged to move up a pre-designed ladder of success, whist planed obsolescence drove them ever onwards
  6. 6. cogs in cycle Wednesday, March 10, 2010 6 Both the internal and external structure was premised on the everyman being a cog in the wheel of consumption and production - homo economicus - self- interested (and selfish) man.
  7. 7. equal & opposite reaction Wednesday, March 10, 2010 7 And the reaction to this hierarchical imbalance was the formation of another hierarchy - the union - which began to stage sit-ins in the 30s to balance the power. This conflict has been key to the history of GM since then.
  8. 8. law of requisite variety 8 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Ashby-Ross, a pioneering cybernetician, introduced us to a key concept, the law of requisite variety.
  9. 9. minimal variety Wednesday, March 10, 2010 If the environment is limited in scope, the internal structure of an organism need only display the same level of variety to survive
  10. 10. massive variety Wednesday, March 10, 2010 But in environments of increasingly complexity, an organism, an organization, must change how it is structured to survive.
  11. 11. monolithic Wednesday, March 10, 2010 media In the past, monolithic media told the ʻconsumerʼ or ʻworkerʼ how to think - reinforcing hierarchies and allowing businesses to ʻprogramʼ the minds of people to conform.
  12. 12. social Wednesday, March 10, 2010 media But now there are hundreds of ways for people to share, contribute, bounce ideas, learn, complain or find people that resonate with their values.
  13. 13. winning through innovation Wednesday, March 10, 2010 mechanistic 13 Organizations must move from a linear, cause and effect, mechanistic world where people must be controlled and dominated
  14. 14. networked 14 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 To one which recognizes the heterarchical, networked, collaborative nature of life today. Recent research from Harvard Medical School shows that even obesity is passed to us by our network, more than parents so it is vital the we harness the nodality rather than fight.
  15. 15. world has been rewired Wednesday, March 10, 2010 15 This is at its most symbolic in the rapid rise of social media - where content (media) and conversations (social) combine, recombine and create infinite levels of complexity distributed across massive, overlapping networks which has rewired how people (Gen Y & Z espeically0 view the world. This is creating change in business, society, scienec and culture as whole – demanding organizations and individuals become more collaborative, open and networked in nature.
  16. 16. 16 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Over a billion tweets a month. A trending topic has a shelf life of 5-10 minutes 126 million blogs. 350 million on Facebook - 50% log in every day 1 billion videos served by YouTube each day - 182 videos / month
  17. 17. Twitter - 39 Facebook - 38 17 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 To dispel any myths.... the average age of a Facebook or Twitter user is in the late 30s. And 84% of sites have more women than men
  18. 18. power shifts virtuously Wednesday, March 10, 2010 We see the collective power of connected individuals, ʻnetwork effectsʼ making the whole ever greater than the sum of the parts, and people perceiving the growing force of their individual contributions massed together, which stimulates a virtuous circle.
  19. 19. hierarchies subverted Wednesday, March 10, 2010 19 Just as in the annual carnivals within medieval times – where for one day traditional churches and states hierarchies were subverted now ideas spread at unprecedented speed, effortlessly reaching the right people at the right time - destabilizing traditional centers of power, subverting existing and established hierarchies and the status quo
  20. 20. peer-powered media 20 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Audiences get news before CNN accesses the story.
  21. 21. peer-powered politics 21 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Citizens organize in the face of massive state crackdowns - and have now invented the idea of ʻsous-veillanceʼ: keeping an eye on big government / big brother from bellow.
  22. 22. • cstart.jpg peer-powered science Wednesday, March 10, 2010 22 New ways to create, produce and evaluate science – from analysis such as GoldCorp and NASA’s collaborative data projects to the emerging collaborative ways of generating validity and citizen science
  23. 23. peer-powered creativity 24 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 People-powered creativity and production – prosumers and proams cut, paste and replicate IP as they see fit
  24. 24. peer-powered consumption Wednesday, March 10, 2010 25 This is Kevin Smith on a SouthWest Airlines plane, a few minutes after being told he was ʻtoo fat to flyʼ.
  25. 25. Dear @SouthwestAir - I know I'm fat, but was Captain Leysath really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated? 5:52 PM Feb 13th Wednesday, March 10, 2010 His Twitter lifecast...
  26. 26. 27 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Becomes a top 20 tweet and reaches the evening news across the globe that night!
  27. 27. 28 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Demanding the organization respond rapidly - costing time, resources and reputation
  28. 28. 29 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 And itʼs been happening for over a decade as the internet has slowly yet steadily permeated every area of life - both physically and emotionally.
  29. 29. Wednesday, March 10, 2010 A threat to all hierarchical business practices...
  30. 30. Wednesday, March 10, 2010 And also an opportunity to embrace a networked, collaborative reality, assuming a business shifts its capabilities and strategic intent to...
  31. 31. empower the edges Wednesday, March 10, 2010 32 All the big winners - Wikipedia, Craigslist, Amazon, Google - have allowed the people at the fringes to become actors and agents and removed unnecessary middlemen
  32. 32. dissolving boundaries 33 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Open IP, source, info and APIs
  33. 33. co-creating the unthinkable Wednesday, March 10, 2010 34 Harness the wisdom distributed across the networks - leveraging Hayekʼs ʻgenius of the marketʼ to achieve ambitions that could not be realised alone such as Googleʼs moon robot $30 million prize.
  34. 34. the long tail 35 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 And realize the market even in the most niche user needs - like Netflix or LoveFilm
  35. 35. re-designed models 36 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Invent new business models that tap into, rather than fight, the network, such as Amazonʼs Mechanical Turk.
  36. 36. petabyte intelligence 37 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 As the network grows exponentially, must learn how to crunch billions of bits and bytes to create meaningful insight - such as Wolfram Alpha and Googleʼs early detection of flu trends
  37. 37. augmented reality 38 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Use networked information to improve and deepen reality...
  38. 38. web to world 39 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Take the web into the real, physical world - such as Google Earth and its role in the Amazon
  39. 39. culture comes first Wednesday, March 10, 2010 If everyone could collaborate successfully , everyone would be doing it to innovate and re-design their business. Above all its what is in your organizational DNA that counts. In a study of 4000 firms in 17 countries , firms’ cultural traits drive innovation across nations Source: Innovation in Firms Across Nations, Cambridge University Judge Institute / Journal of Marketing, 2009
  40. 40. nurture collaborative natures Wednesday, March 10, 2010 41 Foster rather than eradicate our collaborative natures, now proven by recent science (de Waal et. al.) to be as strong, if not more so, than our selfish survival instincts. This is much to do with helping people move beyond ego.
  41. 41. radically 42 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Encourage the creativity that comes with openness and collaboration – and be ready to explore and release the frustrations that are inevitable within a crowd.
  42. 42. embrace ambiguity 43 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Acknowledging that openness and collaboration decrease your ability to control and predict so the leadership must learn to tolerate unknowns.
  43. 43. emergence & evolution 44 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Let ideas emerge from the collective, from the melting pot, with patience – but know when to run with smaller, directive teams / missions
  44. 44. listen receptively 45 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 To what the chatter is in the network and to what lies behind the chatter – favoring the ‘receptive’ mode of consciousness as much as the ‘analytical’ (although the latter dominant in West).
  45. 45. heed intuition 46 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Learning to sense subtle shifts fast, trusting in moment-by-moment intuition because there is not enough time to analyze all the data nor remove all the noise. What to one business is noise / a distraction is to another the emergence of a new paradigm. Perhaps GM could have benefited from that…
  46. 46. cycle between node and Wednesday, March 10, 2010 network 47 Be able to dance between the detail and the overview at will – responsive to the micro (node, individual, psychological, local, indicative) and macro (network, group, social, political, market, predictive) needs, fears and possibilities.
  47. 47. think digital 48 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Ultimately being able to think in multiplicities, in parallel, embracing contradictions and noise - in digital and no longer in analogue - recognizing the shared humanity that bonds and connects us all in this networked world.
  48. 48. nurture Wednesday, March 10, 2010 mavericks 49 Nurture mavericks and self-taught virtuosi as the source of radical innovation – getting the most out of the network. Tolerate dissent. Use agreed values and vision, heuristics etc and the inner compass they generate, to guide behavior
  49. 49. trust peer leadership Wednesday, March 10, 2010 50 Hierarchical leadership fails in the face of networked realities. You cannot pre-regulate for all eventualities and centralization is not efficient nor effective. Move away from rules, regulations, punishments and rewards to foster inner-motivation. Build trust within the network. Invent new ways to lead and guide.
  50. 50. share transparently 51 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Distribute value back to the network you use and are reliant upon.
  51. 51. mission motivated 52 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Reorient the business to focus beyond ʻprofitʼ - tapping into the deepest values and highest aspirations of the people in your network. Employees, suppliers and customers. Allows less micro-management as people can be trusted to make the right decision – at the time, in their eyes, for them – within the powerful context of a shared, and vital, mission
  52. 52. liberate group magic Wednesday, March 10, 2010 53 When people feel trusted, valued, creative and ennobled they can contribute with all their energy to their role whether inside our outside company. And leaders are freed to spend our energy on co-creating the great – rather than spending it reducing the human spirit to mediocrity.
  53. 53. • rambuntious human nature interconnected intelligent interwoven Wednesday, March 10, 2010 54 We must move to a world premised on a very different view from the cog within the cycle – one where we are all alive, intrinsically interwoven, interconnected and inter-dependent. ‘Self organizing' behavior – a fundamental property of living systems - emerges from collective interactions among many different components that share intelligence, mutuality and vitality.
  54. 54. self organized success 55 Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Leverage the enormous benefits of self-organized systems - robustness, flexibility, the spontaneous development of complex adaptations and innovations. All with semi- autonomous non-hierarchical functioning that needs minimal supervision. But it doesnʼt come without transformation in our foundational thinking.] and being able to manage with a lack of control and foresight.
  55. 55. it has been a privilege Wednesday, March 10, 2010