Collaboration in the context of the Big Shift
As stated last week, the Big Shift is driven by advances in digital infrastructure and the evolution of public policy. As a result, barriers to entry have fallen away sharply, competition has intensified, the pace of change has accelerated. This has meant that one of the cornerstones of “firm theory” in the past, that of the experience curve, has been dislodged, weakened, brought into question. A scale player no longer has an advantage just because of the past ability to operate at scale: advantages now accrue based on what the firm can do, not on what the firm has done. The authors develop this point into an argument that we need to move away from experience curves to collaboration curves. Experience curves were about the past; they containerised historical experience and explicitness and sought to extract value by repeating that experience in military fashion; and, in consequence, marginal utility diminished over time while marginal costs increased, and a classic diminishing-returns model ensued. Collaboration curves, on the other hand, are about the future; they seek to containerise tacit knowledge, the ability to learn, to adapt, to evolve; value is created by making the company better at learning. Now I can hear some of you saying “Okay so someone’s discovered Peter Senge and thrown in a bit of Ken Ohmae, big deal. What’s so new about this?”. I think there is something new in this, and the newness comes from finding a way to integrate the learning from the work of people like Howard Rheingold and W Brian Arthur (and more recently, Clay Shirky) on virtual and electronic communities, on learning, on increasing-returns models. Most importantly, Hagel, Seely Brown and Davison spend time looking at how to scale out collaboration by inspecting and extrapolating models based on decades of empirical data. Which then leads on to an understanding of best practice for organisations built around flow, and an exposition of creation spaces where the learning can take place and be disseminated. Creation spaces have three prerequisites: people, the interactions between those people, and the environment where those interactions can be captured, enhanced, disseminated, refined, extrapolated.
The underlying themes are common to most aspects of the Big Shift. A move from stocks to flows. Experience curves were about stocks; collaboration curves are about flows. Documents and files are about stocks, feeds and streams are about flows. There’s also a move from push to pull, but with a focus on scalability as well. The shift from canned and militarised experience to active and continuing learning has its effect in many other ways; knowing how becomes more important than knowing what. There is also a deeper, implicit shift from processes with high degrees of integration, standardisation and repeatability, to patterns that are less military, less repeatable, less vertically integrated, more loosely coupled.
How the Social Enterprise enables this Big Shift-based collaboration
The Social Enterprise, even in its simplest form, is designed to respond to the Big Shift, as shown below.
- Built around flows, not stocks
- Underpinned by foundations of trust
- Designed to facilitate learning and memory
- Making discovery easier
- Filtered by the network
- Making use of collective intelligence
- Simplifying pattern recognition
- Triggering beyond the tacit: the role of serendipity
- Extending beyond the enterprise
Continues @ http://confusedofcalcutta.com/