Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's not what you've got, it's what you do with it

I helped run an interesting (I hope) seminar/workshop, yesterday, about the power of the network and the dominance of communities with people working on digital stuff.

And while the toolkit they had to work with faced certain restrictions, what was interesting to me was that if you give people permission to think differently, they come up with solutions that have real value for their communities - regardless of the technology available to them.

It isn't about the technology - it's about your view of the emerging socio-economic ecology and your place in it.

Alan Moore (Today life is always in beta) on Communities Dominate Brands talks about a project he's involved in - and a more extreme approach to development. In short hand: The best way of finding out what's wrong with your digital play is to get it built and see what the users think.

Traditional R&D is hung up on 'getting it right first time'.
There is a good reason why the traditional 'getting it right before we release' approach leaves the old guard flat-footed: It requires them to give up control - to release it from the centre to the edge.

You can't really learn where your connected community will want to take their community until you give them some basic tools to connect and share. Once the community is functioning then - and only then - does the R&D of the nobody-is-as-clever-as-everybody variety start.

I read some claptrap recently about how the best websites in the world have 'not been developed by committee'. The implication is that the strong leader, stick-to-my-guns approach makes for supreme winners.

The original kernel of an idea may well come from one person or from very small teams - but the execution as (exponentially growing) social phenomena has only been possible because of the engaged involvement of their participating communities. They have shared, marketed, developed, contributed to ALL the global digital successes.

To dismiss the huge role played by EVERYONE is, to my mind, tosh!
It's all about the Power of We - and unleashing it. See my white paper: The Power of the Network = The Power of We for more on that.

1 comment:

  1. Communal R and D and feedback is truly a great thing.

    But it's important to differentiate it from the actual idea in the first place. I'm in agreement with Seth Godin that the truly great ideas tend to come from 2 or 3 people in a group.

    Once the basic idea and focus is done, it's then time to widen it out, and those 2 or 3 should be seeking outside opinions, but the core group is needed to avoid watering something down by committee:


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?