Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Macrowikinomics, Rebooting Business and the World - My Review

A while back I read Wikinomics, by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams. I really enjoyed it. So when they published a new book, Macrowikinomics. Rebooting Business and the World, I was curious, bought and read it.

The book Wikinomics was about the power of mass collaboration for business. But this new model of collaboration goes beyond a business or technology trend. It's a "more encompassing societal shift". So, this new book wants to show how wikinomics and its core principles can be applied to society and all of its institutions.

Principles
What are the wikinomics principles? The 6 principles summarized for you with a quote.
  1. Collaboration - "... the collective knowledge, capability, and resources embodied within broad horizontal networks of participants can accomplish much more than one organization or one individual can acting alone. Of course, hierarchies won't disappear from the economy in the foreseeable future. Nor are we likely to see large top-down bureaucracies erased from the societal landscape either. But new forms of bottom-up collaboration now rival the hierarchical organization in its capacity to create information-based products and services and, in some cases, to solve the critical challenges facing the world." (p.27)
  2. Openness - "The world is becoming more transparent: from customers with unprecedented information about the true value of products and services to employees with access to previously unthinkable knowledge about their firm's strategy, management, and challenges." (p.28)
  3. Sharing - Openness is about communication of pertinent information to stakeholders of firms, government, and other organizations. Sharing is about the releasing or handing over of assets. (p.29)
  4. Integrity - "The bottom line is that in an age of transparency all organizations need integrity as part of their DNA. ... These three values - honesty, consideration, and accountability - together with transparency are the foundation of trust and integrity." (p.33)
  5. Interdependence - "In an age when everything and everyone is interconnected through networks of glass and air, no one, no business, organization, government agency, country, or society, is an island."
What is it applied to?
This book applies these principles to the following areas:
  • Media (newspapers, music, TV and film)
  • Health care
  • University (education, learning) and Science
  • Energy and Environment
  • Financial Service Industry
  • Government
  • Justice
  • Transportation
I didn't read all of the book. There were some sections that didn't interest me at the moment. But I must say I enjoyed reading the book. The authors apply the wikinomics principles convincingly to 'the world'. And provide lots of example of companies, institutions and people leading the way. On the other hand they also check what progress has been made since Wikinomics was published. And they're honest to say progress can be seen, but is also slow. They write: "... though most people recognize that problems get solved more quickly when governments, businesses, nonprofits, and citizens work together, there is still a dearth of understanding about how to make partnerships across sectors work at the pace of wikinomics." (p.19)

On the other hand they make a case to support there core thesis that the direction described in this book is the only way forward for a company, institution and even an individual to succeed in this new world. There core thesis can be summarized with this quote: "Successful companies today have open and porous boundaries and compete by reaching outside their walls to harness external knowledge, resources, and capabilities. ... a new kind of collaborative enterprise - one that is constantly shaping and reshaping clusters of knowledge and capability to compete on a global basis." p.63

To me a very important thing to understand is the importance of information in all this. It's meaning, availability, share-ability and abundance. In this context I love the quote on page 76.: "It's more infostructure than infrastructure." The information is key, not the infrastructure.

How to get started?
But how do we proceed? How can a person, company or institution contribute to the new world, this new way of working and living?
Towards the end of the book Tapscott and Williams share six rules, or ways of working, that successful individuals and groups follow to enable wikinomics in their organizations and sectors. Let me quote them here for you:
"1. Instead of creating something and guarding it agressively, as most organizations do, turn your thing (be it a good or service) into a platform where others can self-organize and create new value. In other words, don't just be a creator, be a curator too.
2. In order to collaborate, you're going to need to share some intellectual property and get your IP lawyers on board. So think about what parts of your business activities could benefit from being released, and what parts you'll keep inside.
3. To control your future in this volatile world, you also need to start with a paradoxically different attitude. You need to let go. Encourage people to organize themselves to help you solve problems and come up with new ideas.
4. Of course, even self-organization needs prodding, and the requisite leadership in any large-scale collaboration usually comes from a small group of enthusiasts in the vanguard. So strengthen that vanguard and spur them on by providing incentives, recognizing excellence, and promoting talented individuals to positions of leadership.
5. Broadening and deepening the culture of collaboration in your organization is essential to making a lasting change in the way you create value. Transcend the old-style hierarchy and instead create a dynamic meritocracy where ideas and information can flow freely through the organization.
6. Empower the Net Generation, as today's young people are the first to grow up with an innate understanding of the digital world and its possibilities. Collaboration comes naturally to them, and wise leaders can leverage this by empowering young people to help lead the process of reinvention." (p.343-344)
Of course these six rules are still high-level. We'll have to detail them in practice, together. But one of the great things of this movement is: we don't have to sit back and wait for it to come. We can start now (or maybe you've already started years ago). By using social media for instance. Sharing our knowledge one tweet or blog at a time, encourage others and the companies/institutions we work for to open up, etc.

Question
Have you read this book? Did you enjoy reading it? Please share your thoughts or review in the comments section!
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