Saturday, August 16, 2008

Book Notes: Wikinomics

Just finished reading Wikinomics while on vacation in Vancouver and I wanted to dump out some book notes before I get too far into my next book and forget it all.

This was a good book, and one that actually reinforced a lot of what I already think and know about mass collaboration. The case studies in books like these usually never disappoint, and this book was no exception with great examples in Goldcorp, Dell and Innocentive.

Late in the book, the authors drop an incredible quote from Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf that really says it all. Paraphrased, "The 3 golden rules of the Internet are that nobody owns it, everybody users it and anyone can add services to it." It's obvious I know, but these rules mean fundamentally that the Internet is a totally new beast, something different than any preceding communications channel in history. Obvious I know, but still great stuff!

The 4 principles that the authors (Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams) outline are openness, peering, sharing and acting globally. Trust me, the book goes into great depth on these 4 principles.

Mass collaboration seems to be less about complex technology (how simple is a wiki after all?) but more about mindset and culture. It has been interesting to see how the different organizations I've worked in have embraced and/or rejected mass collaboration, and not because the technology was too hard. Even at Microsoft, there is sometimes an unwillingness to use Live Meeting and/or Groove for different reasons that don't ever seem to be technology related (perhaps surprisingly).

For those readers that think mass collaboration isn't a real force in the marketplace, consider that Amazon derives 30% of it's revenue from 3rd party resellers, or that P&G has an ambitious goal of finding 50% of all new innovations from outside the company. It's real, and mass collaboration isn't going away.

I always enjoy Tapscott's book and this was no exception. Highly recommended reading for proof that all this web 2.0, collaboration stuff is very, very real in the marketplace.

Updated a few hours later...
Looking at my notes, I realized I left out the most important part of these short book notes. The closing line in the book really summarizes things for me as I move forward as a mass collaboration proponent. "Is your mind ready for wikinomics?" It seems like a trite question that plays off the title of the book. But I think the authors very specifically and intentionally left this signpost for us as a warning and a promise.

If your mind and your organizational culture isn't ready, wikinomics will be hard, if not impossible to work well, if at all.

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