Sunday, December 28, 2008

Innovation in Corporations: Productive Creativity in a Box

This presentation covers productivity and creativity in organizations, patterns of change and how that is related to innovation. It also covers the innovation grid, patterns of industrial innovation, an innovation perspective and guidelines for successful intrapreneurship.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old-New Year Metaphors

A Twitter from Daryl Cagle (dcagle) asking for thoughts on new metaphors for the change from the old to the new year got me to thinking. This is what I woke up with this morning.

Reversal: Old year is a baby and the new year is an old man. This is of course stolen from the movie Benjamin Buttons. There is some germ of truth in the metaphor. We do start a new year as an adult and many times leave whimpering like a baby.

Idea: Treat the year as an idea. The old year is a low wattage yellow bulb and the new year is a bright bulb. If you wanted to, you could combine two concepts and make the old year an incandescent light and the new year a compact fluorescent bulb. Or, maybe even an LED (Light emitting diode)

Dream: Treat each year as a dream. The dreamer in 2007 is creating the dream of 2008. But, also, the dreamer is the dream of a dreamer in 2006. Etc

Decision: Treat the new year as an opportunity with many pathways. We have to decide what 2008 will be. Quoting David Snyder, “The future evolves out of the realities of the past, shaped and filtered by the decisions of the present.”

Fire: Treat each year as a fire. The fire of 2007 is dying, but a bright blazing fire of 2008 beckons.

Race: Treat each year as a runner. The 2007 runner is handing the torch to 2008 while falling down. 2007 is tired. 2008 is vigorous.

Book: Treat the two years as chapters in the Book of America. Chapter 231 (2007) has a set of characteristics and Chapter 232 has an opposite set.
Chapter 231 Chapter 232
Secretive Open
Hierarchical Collaborative
War Peace
Fear Hope
Religious Spiritual
Scarcity Abundance
Materialistic Intellectual
Past Future
Traditional Innovative
Training Education
Components System
Uniformity Diversity
Dissipative Ecological
Simplicity Complexity

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bound and Rebound

The Pixar animated video called Boundin' has a great message for us right now. Many of us are down, and almost all of us have been fleeced by the agents of the financial crisis.

"Here’s a story on how strange is life with its changes
And it happened not long ago.
On a high mountain plain, where the sagebrush arranges
A playground south of the snow
Lived a lamb with a coat of remarkable sheen,
It would glint in the sunlight all sparkly and clean,
Such a source of great pride
that it caused him to preen.
And he’d break out in high stepp’n dance.
He would dance for his neighbors across the way.
I must say that they found his dancin’ enhancin’,
For they’d also join in the play.

Then one day…

Then a-boundin up the slope
Came a great American jackalope.
This sage of the sage, this rare hare of hope,
Caused to pause and check out the lamb.
“Hey kid, why the mope?”

“I used to be something all covered with fluff,
And I’d dance in the sunlight and show off my stuff,
Then they hauled me away in a manner quite rough
And sheared me and dropped me back here in the buff.
And if that’s not enough
Now my friends all laugh at me
Cause they think I look ridiculous, funny, and pink.”

“Pink? Pink? Well, what’s wrong with pink?
Seems you’ve got a pink kink in your think.
Does it matter what color? Well, that gets nope.
Be it pink purple or heliotrope.
Now sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down,
When you find that you’re down well just look around:
You still got a body, good legs and fine feet,
Get your head in the right place and hey, you’re complete!

“Now as for the dancin’, you can do more,
You can reach great heights, in fact you can soar.
You just get a leg up and ya slap it on down,
And you’ll find you’re up in what’s called a bound.
Bound, bound, and rebound.
Bound and you’re up right next to the sky,
And I think you can do it if you give it a try,
First get a leg up, slap it on down…”

So every year, along about May,
They’d load him up and they’d haul him away,
And they’d shave him and dump him all naked and bare.
He learned to live with it, he didn’t care,
He’d just bound, bound, bound, and rebound.

Now in this world of ups and downs…
So nice to know there are jackalopes around."

I'm always doing...

I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Creative Productivity

This is a discussion of the attributes and processes for creativity and productivity, and their similarities and differences. It concludes with the development of a creative productivity process.

Creative Productivity
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A description of innovation, the innovation grid (a matrix of the 9 types of innovation), principles of innovation and a summary of innovation in organizations.

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Forecasting Technological Change

These slides are a five part seminar on technology forecasting.

Web 2.0 and Social Media

This an excellent overview of the differences between web 1.0 and web 2.0.

Web 2.0 and Social Media
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Social Media

All request please fwd to linkedin is A copy of the full research is here:

Social Media
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Future Web Trends

Presentation on future web trends, presented at the iCommons "Innovation Series" with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Technology/Internet Trends

Lots of useful statistics from MorganStanley

Mary Meeker Web 2.0 Presentation
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The Future of Technology

This presentation discusses what technology is, in a very genral sense what are the key information technologies for the future, what is technology management and guidelines for thriving.

Future of Technology
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Suvival of the Diverse

Every two weeks, a language dies. Every few minutes, a species goes extinct. Not long ago, these phenomena would have been relegated to their separate realms: culture and nature. Now, an interdisciplinary contingent of linguists, anthropologists, and biologists are showing that today's epic loss of languages and of species are inextricably linked.

Scientists don't quite know why, but areas of cultural and biological diversity tend to overlap geographically. These bicultural hot spots, according to Seed (Sept.-Oct. 2008), are threatened by the onslaught of Big Agra monoculture crops like corn and wheat, invasive species such as the beetles devastating Canada's pine forests, and the increasing domination of the English, Spanish, and Chinese languages.

When indigenous cultures lose their languages and practices, the world loses potentially useful agricultural or medicinal species and land-use systems that keep crucial ecosystems in balance. Resurgence (Sept.-Oct. 2008) sees hope in Indigenous Community Conserved Areas-dozens of homegrown conservation initiatives from the Amazon to Australia that rely on indigenous groups' traditional knowledge to manage their lands sustainably.

This diversity of solutions may be our best weapon against a rising tide of sameness.

From Utne, Jan-Feb '09, p21

Monday, December 22, 2008

Harnessing Collective Wisdom and Power

The introduction by Dr. Enrique G. Herrscher provides a great summary of this book, “Few books present an idea that might change the world. This is one of the few.

The emphasis here is on the word "might." Two things are always needed to change the world, or an organization, or oneself, or anything: intent and procedure. That is: a serious desire to change, and an adequate methodology. Alexander (Aleco) Christakis' book presents one such methodology. It is called dialogue.

Not a "natural" dialogue, not any kind of human interaction, not even-important as it is-the recommendation to "put oneself in someone else's shoes," certainly not 'Just talking." But a highly structured dialogue, said (with exciting examples) to have been applied successfully for over thirty years. In fact, the whole book is based on the thesis (in my simplified version, not in Aleco's words) that (a) dialogue is important; (b) dialogue is difficult; and ( c) the only way to overcome the difficulties is through an adequate methodology, such methodology being basically the contents of the book.

But methodology alone does not produce change, and Aleco's book fully acknowledges the difficulties, constraints and pathologic situations to be overcome. Therefore, the book is not only about methodology. In my view (and I am not following the book's structure but my own), its gist is fourfold: (a) an attitude; (b) a philosophy; ( c) a call for action; and (d) a methodology}, Let me explain what I mean by these interrelated parts, expressed in my own words, surely less rigorous than Christakis'.

An Attitude
A collaborative spirit, a true regard for "the collective wisdom of the group, "the power of "mutual persuasion and respect," permeate Christakis' book. This goes beyond participative democracy within the hierarchical model, that often gets stuck mid-road because power or bureaucracy (structure) work in the shadows.

You will read the book and find more about both the ethical and practical roots and their far reaching effects in an increasingly complex webworld, but let me add two personal notes.

When I first met Aleco Christakis, at the 49th annual meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) at Crete in 2003, his all-embracing personality did more to show me how a group consciousness through dialogue is generated, than the axioms and laws you will read here. Particularly strong was the message delivered at the last plenary by representatives of native tribes. While most of us selected one or two spokespersons to present conclusions in the name of the group, in their case the whole group came forward, and each person expressed his or her thoughts and experiences.

When I read (chapter 20) the wonderful Winnebago tribe chairman's account of the essence of the pipe ceremonial, I was reminded of a similar tradition we had as young boys and girls at the local YMCA camp site in Argentina. At the last campfire, a half burned stick was passed around, and each one holding it "opened his/her heart" and expressed their feelings towards the camp experience and their interaction with others. A beautiful forerunner of what is said in this book.

A Philosophy
By this perhaps presumptuous term, I refer to what Christakis calls "Science of Dialogue Design" or "People Science," based on the "Wisdom of the People" ("Demosophia") paradigm, a Weltanschauung from which the above "attitude" derives. It resembles what I once termed "Science of Dialogue," characterizing that way the essence of systemics (in my incoming presidential speech at the 2004 ISSS annual meeting).

I won't reproduce the axioms, definitions, laws and measurements that, as with any science, characterize this one, because you will find them, well worded and orderly, in the text. But I do consider it a valid contribution to state here what I consider the ten major assumptions of this science, because they are the building blocks of the proposed methodology that follows:

• That the self-organizing model is spreading in all kinds of organizations in the post-industrial world

• That in a world where influence increasingly replaces control, dialogue and teamwork will be more and more the preferred methods

• That commitment, shared responsibility and real change can only be achieved by democratic participation

• That mutual purpose and a collective leadership are necessary to link the group's work with the organization and its external environment

• That practices based on the hierarchical model have only limited effectiveness because they generate negative feedback

• That without a proper process, individuals do not learn from each other (they often use the debate to persuade others, stick to a zero-sum mode or simply voice their beliefs)

• That while the generation of ideas is comparatively easy, relating them to each other is complex

• That stakeholders possess the requisite knowledge for defining and resolving systemic problems

• That stakeholders are however generally programmed to see situations in terms of the mechanistic paradigm

• That computers lessen the cognitive demands on designing partici¬pants, and therefore are an essential aid for easing consensus.

An Action Plan
The dialogue proposed here is not a case of neutral collection of observer-independent data, but rather a proposal to "enable people from all walks of life to experience participative democracy in national, international, organizational and inter-organizational settings."

To translate above attitude and philosophy into action in the real world is no easy task. Reading the book makes it clear-at least for me-that this is an instance of "necessary but not sufficient." I have my doubts-and believe Aleco would share this view-whether this kind of dialogue would succeed in the face of strong negative forces arising from power relations or vested interests. But the point I want to make is that often the situation is not so bad. However, even in a favorable setting, a positive outcome can only be assured if the right tools are applied.

In other words, numerous opportunities are lost not because those who oppose change are too powerful but because those who are in favor fail to make it happen.”

The book provides action plans and methods.

The author presents a structured design process (SDP) for enabling effective large group dialogue. This process is composed of seven components:

• Six consensus methods
• Seven language patterns
• Three application phases
• Three key role responsibilities
• Four stages of interactive inquiry
• Collaborative software and facility
• Six dialogue rules

Christakis elaborates on each of these categories and provides examples.

The author also provides an explanation of the science behind his assertion that his SDP works.

Christakis concludes his book with, “The public discourse on democracy must be extended so that it again becomes a living system of ideas and not something of the past to be sanctimoniously worshiped. Above all, democracy must grant power beyond the circle of scientific and public policy experts. It must return ownership for designing social systems to stakeholders and the common person. Democratic dialogue must return to people's neighborhoods, communities, and other social systems that are important in their lives.

For the past thirty years, the SDP paradigm has been developed to facilitate design that can bring democracy back to the common person. With focused and open dialogue that avoids cognitive overload, it encourages respectful listening, open expression, and opportunities for participants to explain the meaning of their contributions, thus creating a linguistic consensual web among stakeholders. The technological support of SDP also has the advantage of allowing participants to effectively deal with the complexity of the confounding issues of the Information Age, without being burdened with details of recording and interrelating ideas.

The advantages of the SDP are many. It is solidly grounded in systems science; it encourages individual as well as group learning; and it allows for focused and open dialogue that converges to Collaborative Action Plans. The SDP axioms are not specific to any particular culture, and apply to multitudes of cultural arenas, as demonstrated already from many applications with indigenous people. SDP provides equanimity for participants and has been proven effective in many years of application successes. The SDP paradigm is formidable in sustaining democracy, cultural dignity, and autonomy for all people. It can be foundational in realizing the ideal of a just and humane world.”

I think that this methodology is worth studying and perhaps actualizing. What do you think?

How People Harness Their Collective Wisdom and Power to Construct the Future in Co-Laboratories of Democracy, Alexander N. Christakis with Kenneth C. Bausch, Information Age Publishing, 2006, 277 p

The man whose riches satisfies his greed

The man whose riches satisfy his greed
Is not more rich for all those heaps and hoards
Than some poor man who has enough to feed
And clothe his corpse with such a God affords.

I have no use for men who steal and cheat:
The fruit of evil poisons those who eat.

Some wicked men are rich, some good men poor,
But I would rather trust in what's secure;
Our virtue sticks with us and makes us strong,
But money changes owners all day long.

Solon, Poet of Dracon's Athens

Insights Into the Creative Process

A discussion of paradigms, whole brain function, adult skill acquisition and the creative process.

Overcoming Communication Barriers

The objectives of this presentation are to:

* Demonstrate The Importance of Personality Type and Shared Values in Effective Communication

* How to Evaluate the Benefits of Different Communication Styles in Individual and Team Networks

* Ways to Increase Creativity in Communication by Building on Shared Knowledge and Values

* How to Develop Communication Strategies for Different Individuals and Variable Internal and External Environments

Beyond Success

A discussion of change, leadership, organizations, leadership and purpose.

Beyond Success
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Extreme Democracy Discussion Series

Background: “In the 1990s online activists experimented with the Internet and the World Wide Web as a platform for a new kind of politics, leveraging interactive "many-to-many" tools to support both advocacy and deliberation. Early online activism focused on issues that were relevant to the Internet's strong "geek" element, “cyber liberties" issues of free speech and privacy. However in 2000, as Internet penetration was mainstreaming and reaching critical mass, the web became relevant to political campaigns. In the presidential campaign for election 2004, the Internet became an essential part of the political process. Howard Dean's short-lived front-runner status, a product of his campaign's effective use of Internet tools, proved that the Internet could have an effect. Though Dean was unsuccessful in his bid for the Democratic nomination, he continued to use web-based tools effectively to take control of the Democratic Party.”
Jon Lebkowsky

Description: "Extreme democracy is a political philosophy of the information era that puts people in charge of the entire political process. It suggests a deliberative process that places total confidence in the people, opening the policy-making process to many centers of power through deeply networked coalitions that can be organized around local, national and international issues. The choice of the word "extreme" reflects the lessons of the extreme programming movement in technology that has allowed small teams to make rapid progress on complex projects through concentrated projects that yield results far greater than previous labor-intensive programming practices. Extreme democracy emphasizes the importance of tools designed to break down barriers to collaboration and access to power, acknowledging that political realities can be altered by building on rapidly advancing generations of technology and that human organizations are transformed by new political expectations and practices made possible by technology.

Extreme democracy is not direct democracy, which assumes all people must be involved in every decision in order for the process to be just and democratic. Direct democracy is inefficient, regardless of the tools available to voters, because it creates as many, if not more, opportunities for obstruction of social decisions as a representative democracy. Rather, we assume that every debate one feels is important will be open to participation; that governance is not the realm of specialists and that activism is a critical popular element in making a just society.

Extreme democracy can exist alongside and through co-evolution with the representative systems in place today; it changes the nature of representation, as the introduction of sophisticated networked applications have reinvented the corporate decision-making process. Rather than debate how involved a citizen should be or fret over the lack of involvement among citizens of advanced democracies, the extreme democracy model focuses on the act of participation and assumes that anyone in a democracy is free to act politically. If individuals are constrained from action, they are not free, not citizens but subjects.

The basic unit of organization in an extreme democracy is the activist, a citizen engaged with an issue of concern about which they are willing to invest their time and effort to evolve relevant policy, whether at the local, state, national or international level. They engage their fellow citizens seeking support rather than demanding it at the point of a gun. Small groups of activists have changed the world repeatedly and at every stage in history. Martin Luther was an ecclesiastical political activist and Martin Luther King was a civil rights activist. Gandhi was a political activist, just like Benjamin Franklin and Nelson Mandela, though Franklin finally advocated a violent break with England and Mandela laid his guns down before he successfully ousted the apartheid government of South Africa.”
Extreme Democracy, edited by Jon Lebkowsky and Mitch Ratcliffe, 2004

“The book entitled Extreme Democracy began with a series of discussions using combined modes (teleconference, online chat, wiki) considering the current state of democracy and the democratic potential of social democracy. This led to the creation of a white paper called 'Emergent Democracy' by Joichi Ito and other collaborators. It also inspired Jon Lebkowsky and Mitch Ratcliffe to assemble a collection of writings about politics and technology called Extreme Democracy, a book that combines original and republished works inspired in part by the use of technology to influence 2004 political campaigns.”
Jon Lebkowsky

This seminar series was a discussion of the book in 2004. Where presentation documents were used for the discussion, these are linked:

1. Context: A presentation on First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea, Paul Woodruff, Oxford University Press, 2005 and The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Michael Novak, Madison Books, 1982. This will provide the framework into which extreme democracy must exist. – Paul Schumann

Extreme Democracy: Platform
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2. Overview & History of Development of Extreme Democracy: The book, Extreme Democracy, edited by Mitch Ratcliffe & Jon Lebkowsky, 2005, is itself a product of the processes advocated by the team who collaborated to bring the book into existence.( – Paul Schumann interviewed Jon Lebkowsky

3. Emergence, Emergent Democracy & the Emerging Second Super Power: Discussion of the essays by Steven Johnson (Two Ways to Emerge and How to tell the Difference Between Them) and Ken White (The Dead Hand of Modern Democracy: Lessons for Emergent Post-Modern Democrats), pages 90 – 100 and a discussion of essays written by Joichi Ito (Emergent Democracy) & James Moore (The Second Superpower Rears Its Beautiful Head), pages 13 - 47

4. Extreme Democracy: An interview with Mitch Ratcliffe (Extreme Democracy: Deep Confidence in the People), pages 57- 66 – Paul Schumann

5. Networks: Discussion of the essays by Clay Shirky (Power Laws, Weblogs & Inequality), pages 48 – 55, and Mitch Ratcliffe (Building on Experience), pages 67 – 89

Extreme Democracy; Networks
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6. Politics & Networks: A discussion of the essays of Valdis Krebs (It’s the Conversation Stupid!: The Link Between Social Action & Political Choice), Ross Mayfield (Social Network Dynamics & Participatory Politics), David Weinberger (Broadcasting & the Voter’s Paradox) & Danah Boyd (Social Technology & Democracy). Pages 112 – 190

7. Strategy & the Political Process: A discussion of the essays of Adam Greenfield (Democracy for the Rest of Us: The Minimal Compact & Open Source Government) & Ethan Zuckerman (Making Room for the Third World in the Second Superpower), pages 200 – 227

Extreme Democracy: Strategy
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8. DeanSpace: A discussion of the essays of Clay Shirky (Exiting Dean Space), pages 228 -240; Jon Lebkowky (Deanspace, Social Networks & Politics) & Aldon Hays (What is DeanSpace?), pages 296 - 319
9. 6.4 Billion Points of Light: An interview of Roger Wood (6.4 Billion Points of Light: Lighting the Tapers of Democracy), pages 241 – 265, by Paul Schumann

10. Activist Technology: A discussion of the essays of Jon Lebkowsky (Virtual Bonfire: A Brief History of Activist Technology) pages 267 - 275, Jay Rosen (The Weblog: An Extremely Democratic Form of Journalism), pages 104 – 110, Britt Blaser (The Revolution Will Be Engineered: An Assessment of the Present and Possible Future of Net-based Political Tools) pages 276 – 295

11. Political Tools: A discussion of the essays of Adina Levin (Campaign Tools), pages 320 - 362 & Phillip Windley (eVoting), pages 191 – 198.

12. Future of Democracy: A discussion among the participants

This series of webinars was sponsored by Glocal Vantage Inc., Texas Forums and Extreme Democracy.

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

This is the most complete book on the economic, technological and social revolution that they call wikinomics. It has also been called social production, peer-to-peer (peer production) and the social web among many others. The software tools have been called social software, collaborative software and web 2.0 among many others. In my opinion, it is the biggest change in the way we work since electrification. It is an excellent book to read, and anyone interested in attempting to stay current, must read it. I say stay current because the rate of change in this revolution is far faster than I can keep up with. However, this book is a good place to start. If you’re in education, an equally good book to start with is Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.

The authors’ introduction describes very well the revolution. “Throughout history corporations have organized themselves according to strict hierarchical lines of authority. Everyone was a subordinate to someone else-employees versus managers, marketers versus customers, producers versus supply chain subcontractors, companies versus the community. There was always someone or some company in charge, controlling things, at the "top" of the food chain. While hierarchies are not vanishing, profound changes in the nature of technology, demographics, and the global economy are giving rise to powerful new models of production based on community, collaboration, and self-organization rather than on hierarchy and control.

Millions of media buffs now use blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and personal broadcasting to add their voices to a vociferous stream of dialogue and debate called the "blogosphere." Employees drive performance by collaborating with peers across organizational boundaries, creating what we call a "wiki workplace." Customers become "prosumers" by co creating goods and services rather than simply consuming the end product. So-called supply chains work more effectively when the risk, reward, and capability to complete major projects-including massively complex products like cars, motorcycles, and airplanes-are distributed across planetary networks of partners who work as peers.”

The authors’ suggest that we should call this collection of tools, facilitated by the infrastructure of the Internet, digital telephony and later by digital radio and TV, weapons of mass collaboration. These weapons they write, “…allow thousand upon thousands of individuals and small producers to co-create products access markets, and delight customers in ways that only large corporations could manage in the past. This is giving rise to new collaborative capabilities and business models that will empower the prepared firm and destroy those that fail to adjust.”

Because the principles of wikinomics are so vastly different from those the past, it is difficult for people and organizations to perceive and understand them. “The new mass collaboration is changing how companies and societies harness knowledge and capability to innovate and create value. This affects just about every sector of society and every aspect of management. A new kind of business is emerging-one that opens its doors to the world, co-innovates with everyone (especially customers), shares resources that were previously closely guarded, harnesses the power of mass collaboration, and behaves not as a multinational but as something new: a truly global firm. These companies are driving important changes in their industries and rewriting many rules of competition.

Now compare this to traditional business thinking. 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 insufficient, and in some cases, completely inappropriate.”

The authors’ assert that wikinomics is based on four principles:
• Openness
• Peering
• Sharing
• Acting globally

They write, “These four principles-openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally-increasingly define how twenty-first-century corporations compete. This is very different from the hierarchical, closed, secretive, and insular multi-national that dominated the previous century.

One thing that has not changed is that winning organizations (and societies) will be those that tap the torrent of human knowledge and translate it into new and useful applications. The difference today is that the organizational values, skills, tools, processes, and architectures of the ebbing command-and-control economy are not simply outdated; they are handicaps on the value creation process. In an age where mass collaboration can reshape an industry overnight, the old hierarchical ways of organizing work and innovation do not afford the level of agility, creativity, and connectivity that companies require to remain competitive in today's environment. Every individual now has a role to play in the economy, and every company has a choice-commoditize or get connected.”

The book is an incredible source of specific information about the collaboration revolution, links for even more information about specific topics and tools, and stories about successful uses of mass collaboration.

The book covers several models of mass collaboration for businesses:

* “ Peer producers apply open source principles to create products made of bits-from operating systems to encyclopedias.

* Ideagoras give companies access to a global marketplace of ideas, innovations, and uniquely qualified minds that they can use to extend their problem-solving capacity.

* Prosumer communities can be an incredible source of innovation if companies give customers the tools they need to participate in value creation.

* The New Alexandrians are ushering in a new model of collaborative science that will lower the cost and accelerate the pace of technological progress in their industries.

* Platforms for participation create a global stage where large communities of partners can create value and, in many cases, new businesses in a highly synergistic ecosystem.

* Global plant floors harness the power of human capital across borders and organizational boundaries to design and assemble physical things.

* Wiki workplaces increase innovation and improve morale by cutting across organizational hierarchies in all kinds of unorthodox ways.

Each model represents a new and unique way to compete, but they all share one thing: These new forms of peer production enable firms to harvest external knowledge, resources, and talent on a scale that was previously impossible.”

The future for business, nonprofits and government, in fact all forms human endeavor, looks very different from what the past has been.

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams
Portfolio, 2006, 324 pp

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rebooting America

This is an outstanding book for anyone wanting to learn about technology is and can affect the future of our democracy. It’s composed 45 essays, each only 3 to 7 pages long. Therefore it’s an easy read. The essays have been edited down to the core ideas so they are very comprehensible. And, as each essay stands alone, it’s an easy book to carry with you and catch an essay whenever you can. In addition, each of the authors provides a gateway into even more worlds of knowledge on their subject because they are all involved in Internet based applications of democracy. I highly recommend this book.

However, that said, the 45 essays are all about different subjects, so they are impossible to summarize without essentially rewriting the book. A worthwhile task as this book, plus Extreme Democracy and many others would lead to an outstanding book. However, for now, you’re just going to have to read this one at least.

Ester Dyson’s foreword to the book begins with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

She opens her essay with, “We have pressing public policy problems, adults who should be leaders yet instead lead willfully sheltered lives of comfort and ignorance, a citizenry increasingly active in elections yet alienated from governance, an amazing array of new digital tools and platforms that have the potential to inform and empower us and let us self-organize in astonishing and effective ways. The stage is ready and the sunlight of the Internet is shining on us: It can provide light and energy for a fertile, thousand-flowers-blooming garden, or it can ignite the whole thing into flames and burn it out.

This anthology of essays is intended to shine light, to spark conversations among citizens, and between voters and elected officials, about how we can engage more people in public problem solving and community building. Just as the Net created new business models, so can it foster new governance models.”

I hope that you will read this book and start some conversations in our group “Reinventing Democracy”.

Rebooting America: Ideas for Redesigning American Democracy for the Internet Age
Fine, Sifray, Rasiej and Levy, Personal Democracy Press, 2008, 248p

Danger Mouse on Collaboration

1." Be an apprentice. Each collaborator adds to your collective knowledge. They're all teachers. Ideas move to the next project.

2. Contain your ego. It doesn't get in the way early on. Early on, you're just happy to solve problems. Later on, you can't let ego suggest the same solutions to new problems.

3. Reject the past. Take Beck, for instance: I don't think about his past work. I let him think about that. Whatever else he's done doesn't make a difference to me. Here's what matters: "Would it actually work?" And it did.

4. Paddle really, really hard. (See above.)

5. Embrace the misery. I sometimes take too much responsibility for what music can do, for its role in shaping the world. But great records come from miserable times. "

From Esquire

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our Moral Cultural Institutions Have Failed Us

“What do I mean by ‘democratic capitalism’? I mean three systems in one: a predominately market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by the ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: A democratic polity and economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is pluralistic and, in the largest sense, liberal.”
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Our moral –cultural institutions have let us down. Even worse, they have diverted our attention from the important issues of our society. Like a con or scam artist team where one member creates a diversion that draws attention away from what the other members of the team are doing. Our cultural-moral system has drawn our attention away from what the polity and business interests were doing. Supported by media, we have focused on sexual, genital and reproductive behavior while the politicians and business people were robbing us. The media not only supported and encouraged the diversion, media entrapped us in “entertainment” – anything to keep us from perception and thought. Meanwhile, we are taught and encouraged by polity and business to consume, and make sure you borrow to do so.

Some “new age” philosophies and religions even teach that it is right to acquire wealth and possessions. The so called “Law of Attraction”, egocentric to the extreme, promises the individual anything they want can be theirs by use of this secret.

All three of our systems, and the institutions and individuals in those systems, have the duty or obligation to develop intentions and actions which are predicated upon right and wrong, virtue and vice. However, it is the role of our cultural-moral institutions to develop the rules, and model those rules, by which such intentions and actions ought to be directed. These rules should relate to the practice, manners, or conduct of people as social beings in relation to each other, as respects right and wrong.

The Moral Compass, developed by The Center for Defined Ethics, is a good place to start:

* Do no harm.
* Accept responsibility for personal actions and for the consequences of these actions.
* Accept a duty of care.
* Affirm the individual's right to self-determination.
* Put the truth first.
* Never use a person as merely an unconsenting means to an end, even if the end benefits others.
* Be honest.
* Honor agreements.
* Conduct relationships with integrity.
* Leave a positive legacy to future generations.

In order for a system of morals like these to work, the geosphere, biosphere and noosphere must be considered. As an example, “Do no harm within the geosphere, biosphere or noosphere.”

Isn’t it time we redefine the basic moral values of our society and get to work strengthening them?

Addendum 12/27/08

Since writing the original blog, Bill Moyers presented a new movie, Beyond Our Differences - a call to all religions to focus on what we have in common as opposed to how we are different. It's a moving piece that argues that we should begin the process by describing the precepts we share.

Read More

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Open Source Thinking

Gurteen's Knowledge Website

To me this is at the heart of what web 2.0, enterprise 2.0 and km 2.0 are all about! Its a different mind set that many people still do not get or like to see.

"Open source thinking is sharing and remixing. You've got to set your ideas free, you can't control your content. It is a different mindset: "Ah darn, someone else has got there first" versus "Great, don't have to do that, I can build it on it!" For me, it's been the ability to think out loud with colleagues on ideas and topics, share presentations, etc."

Credit: Momentum by Alison Fine via David Wilcox and Beth Kanter


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Building Trust with Transparency

Kermit Pattison, Fast Company

Fast Interview: The co-author of "Tactical Transparency" on how companies can use authenticity and social media tools to reinforce their brands and create relationships with customers.

What do you have to hide? So asks John C. Havens, co-author (with Shel Holtz) of the new book Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build their Brand. He argues that the market and customers will increasingly demand that companies become more transparent--and punish those who fail to do so. Havens previously worked as a film and TV actor and appeared in The Thomas Crown Affair, Law & Order, and Spin City and now finds himself in the role of vice president of business development for Here he explains why transparency should be approached as a strategy.


The Long Now

Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed-some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where 'long-term' is measured at least in centuries. Long Now proposes both a mechanism and a myth. It began with an observation and idea by computer scientist Daniel Hillis:

"When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium."

Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse. Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment. Such icons reframe the way people think.

Hillis, who developed the 'massive parallel' architecture of the current generation of supercomputers, devised the mechanical design of the Clock and is now building the second prototype (the first prototype is on display in London at the Science Museum). The Clock's works consist of a binary digital-mechanical system which is so accurate and revolutionary that we have patented several of its elements. (With 32 bits of accuracy it has precision equal to one day in 20,000 years, and it self-corrects by 'phase-locking' to the noon Sun.) For the way the eventual Clock is experienced (its size, structure, etc.), we expect to keep proliferating design ideas for a while. In 01999 Long Now purchased part of a mountain in eastern Nevada whose high white limestone cliffs may make an ideal site for the ultimate 10,000-year Clock. In the meantime Danny Hillis and Alexander Rose continue to experiment with ever-larger prototype Clocks.

Long Now added a "Library" dimension with the realization of the need for content to go along with the long-term context provided by the Clock - a library of the deep future, for the deep future. In a sense every library is part of the 10,000-year Library, so Long Now is developing tools (such as the Rosetta Disk, The Long Viewer the Long Server) that may provide inspiration and utility to the whole community of librarians and archivists. The Long Bets project - whose purpose is improving the quality of long-term thinking by making predictions accountable - is also Library-related.

The point is to explore whatever may be helpful for thinking, understanding, and acting responsibly over long periods of time.

-Stewart Brand


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tryptophan, Turkey and Trust

Your holiday turkey won't give you more faith in your family, but research published last year suggests that there is a relationship between tryptophan and trust.

By Emily Singer, Technology Review

As you sink into your post-Thanksgiving food coma, the name of an amino acid might pop into your mind: tryptophan, a molecule found in high levels in turkey that's known to induce drowsiness. While scientists say that the tryptophan in turkey is probably not the source of holiday fatigue, a possible new role for tryptophan has recently been uncovered. It appears to affect our sense of trust.

Tryptophan is a chemical precursor to serotonin, one of the brain's most important signaling molecules and the target of the most commonly prescribed classes of antidepressants: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Scientists who study neuroeconomics--the way the brain makes decisions--are beginning to study the role that serotonin plays in normal behavior. Robert Rogers and his colleagues at Oxford University are using game theory to study serotonin's role in social interactions.

In the Oxford study, the researchers asked volunteers to play a two-person game known as the prisoner's dilemma. Players can choose to make a move that wins them money and garners money from the other player, or make a move that wins both players money. The latter move maximizes earnings for each player. Over time, the optimal strategy for both players is to cooperate. Under normal circumstances, players cooperate about 75 percent of the time.

In the new study, presented earlier this month at the Society for Neurosciences meeting in San Diego, half of the volunteers were given a drink that depleted their tryptophan levels prior to the start of the game, thereby decreasing serotonin levels in their brain. Rogers and his team found that dampening serotonin activity significantly decreased the level of cooperation among the players, and that this group also rated fellow players as less trustworthy. "The findings suggest that a serotonin deficit might impair sustained cooperation," says Rogers.

While it's not clear why serotonin has this effect, previous research has shown that mutual cooperation might be rewarding in its own right: it enhances activity in the brain circuits that play a role in positive reinforcement. Rogers hypothesizes that reducing the chemical also reduces the reward value of cooperating.

Given that the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors has exploded in the past decade, should we be concerned that the nation as a whole has become overly trusting? Probably not, says Rogers. It's not clear precisely how these drugs affect serotonin activity in the brain, he says, especially in clinically depressed patients, who are likely to have abnormal serotonin levels to begin with.

Your holiday turkey probably isn't going to significantly boost your trust levels either. The researchers haven't yet determined how boosting tryptophan affects trust, although they are starting on those experiments. And while turkey is high in tryptophan, it's probably not high enough in the typical holiday dinner to have an impact on the brain.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back to the Garage: How Economic Turmoil Breeds Innovation

Daniel Roth, Wired

In July 1993, Tom Siebel launched Siebel Systems, which made software for managing corporate sales staffs. The US economy was faltering, and the market for his product was new and untested. In other words, the timing couldn't have been better.

The tech veteran picked up some inexpensive, underworked software engineers, secured office space in run-down East Palo Alto—at 11 cents a square foot—and bought office equipment at auctions held by the companies failing all around him. His own desk was a folding table. By the time he had his first release ready in 1995, he had spent less than $1 million on overhead and had an offering that none of the other major software companies could challenge. Investors made Siebel's June 1996 IPO—debuting just as the stock market was picking up steam—one of the year's top performers. Tom Siebel soon became one of the richest people in the US. "It was a great way to start a company," he says.

With the world's economies apparently snowballing into a deep recession, it feels uncomfortably Pollyannish to see signs of hope. But for the bravest inventors and entrepreneurs, conditions are ideal to pounce on a business opportunity. In periods of economic turmoil, people are hungry and work cheap, and entrenched companies often concentrate on in-house cost-cutting instead of exploring new markets, which can explode with the next turn of the business cycle. When VCs from Foundation Capital met with their nervous investors recently, the partners advised them to stay the course rather than follow their peers into the bunkers. "Our strongest companies have the potential to be whales when the market opens up," partner Paul Holland told the group. "This is the crucible that forges great companies."


Reinventing Your Business Model

One secret to maintaining a thriving business is recognizing when it needs a fundamental change.

by Mark W. Johnson, Clayton M. Christensen, and Henning Kagermann

♦ VIDEO: Watch a video interview with Clayton Christensen on the link between disruptive innovation and business model reinvention.

In 2003, Apple introduced the iPod with the iTunes store, revolutionizing portable entertainment, creating a new market, and transforming the company. In just three years, the iPod/iTunes combination became a nearly $10 billion product, accounting for almost 50% of Apple’s revenue. Apple’s market capitalization catapulted from around $1 billion in early 2003 to over $150 billion by late 2007.

This success story is well known; what’s less well known is that Apple was not the first to bring digital music players to market. A company called Diamond Multimedia introduced the Rio in 1998. Another firm, Best Data, introduced the Cabo 64 in 2000. Both products worked well and were portable and stylish. So why did the iPod, rather than the Rio or Cabo, succeed?


Hyper-Capitalism: What Ever Happened to Free Markets?

by John Renesch

Market fundamentalists are fond of citing Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” theories as expressed in his book The Wealth on Nations, considered by many to be the sacred text of capitalism. Of course Smith could hardly have predicted the degree to which the market would be so manipulated as it has over the century and a half since he penned his 1776 book. Political lobbying and campaign contributions in the U.S. with the resultant government subsidies, tax advantages , changes to corporate law and other tilting of the free-market scale in favor of some to the detriment of others has created a market far from the unfettered model Smith had envisioned.

But that doesn’t stop the market fundamentalists from shouting “let the market resolve things”, “keep government out of the marketplace” and labeling any attempt to bring the scales back into balance as “socialism.” What market fundamentalists do not admit or wish to have known is the market is far from free. Special interests have sought advantages over generations so that those with the most to spend can effectively purchase preferred treatment by government decree and thus the rich get richer at the expense of the not-so-rich.

In effect what they are saying when they insist on keeping hands off the market is “don’t mess with the system that has been manipulated to our tastes” or, in essence, “we have the system customized to our advantage and we don’t want anyone messing with it.” Late comers might be saying “I have learned how to play with the present rules and I am doing quite well at working the system; please don’t mess it up because then I’ll have to learn a different way.” Either way, it is one-ups-man-ship, with a relatively small percentage of the population wanting to maintain its advantage over the rest of us. This tramples on the founding principles of equal opportunity, liberty and justice for all.


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Leading Through Uncertaintity

The range of possible futures confronting business is great. Companies that nurture flexibility, awareness, and resiliency are more likely to survive the crisis, and even to prosper.

DECEMBER 2008 • Lowell Bryan and Diana Farrell, Mckinsey
Strategy, Strategic Thinking Article, Leading through uncertainty

The future of capitalism is here, and it’s not what any of us expected. With breathtaking speed, in the autumn of 2008 the credit markets ceased functioning normally, governments around the world began nationalizing financial systems and considering bailouts of other troubled industries, and major independent US investment banks disappeared or became bank holding companies. Meanwhile, currency values, as well as oil and other commodity prices, lurched wildly, while housing prices in Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere continued to slide.

As consumers batten down the hatches and the global economy slows, senior executives confront a more profoundly uncertain business environment than most of them have ever faced. Uncertainty surrounds not only the downturn’s depth and duration—though these are decidedly big unknowns—but also the very future of a global economic order until recently characterized by free-flowing capital and trade and by ever-deepening economic ties. A few months ago, the only challenges to this global system seemed to be external ones like climate change, terrorism, and war. Now, every day brings news that makes all of us wonder if the system itself will survive.

The task of business leaders must be to overcome the paralysis that dooms any...