In the last month, two new friends of mine took the time to write reviews of The Ad-Free Brand on their blogs.
I thought I’d take a few minutes today to say thanks. As someone who reads a lot of books, I know that it is a big investment of time to read someone’s book. But then, on top of that, to make the time to collect and write down your thoughts to share with others is really meaningful.
So, in saying thanks to Eugene and Terri, I thought I’d share a bit about each of them here. They both do great work, and if you enjoy reading what you see here on my blog, you might enjoy hearing more about their ideas and projects as well.
First, a few words about Eugene.
I met Eugene after writing about his work leading the Wikimedia Strategic Planning project (articles here on the MIX, Fortune, and opensource.com). I was truly blown away by the open, collaborative approach that he and Philippe Beaudette of the Wikimedia Foundation took to the project, involving over 1000 volunteer contributors in the effort.
Over the past few months, Eugene has been hard at work building his new company, Groupaya, which often works on massively collaborative projects like the one he helped the Wikimedia Foundation run. Here is the positioning statement from the Groupaya website:
“Groupaya specializes in helping groups, be they teams, organizations, networks or nations, more skillfully work together to create their desired future.”
If you are interested in learning more about the the sort of projects Groupaya is working on, you can follow their blog here. And if you happen to live in the San Francisco area, consider joining them to share ideas at one of their informal Thursday brown bag lunches.
I met Terri Griffith through her contributions to the MIX Hackathon Pilot project (which we just finished, I’ll be sharing the final report on it in the next week). Terri is a professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, and takes a particular interest in what her bio refers to as the “technology of work” (a phrase I loved).
As it turns out, she and I were both working on writing books at the same time, and her new book The Plugged-In Manager was just released a few weeks ago. I read the book a few days after it came out and the concepts in it really resonated with me. Here’s what I said in my review on Amazon:
The Plugged-In Manager is one of the most thought-provoking and *current* management books I’ve read in years. Terri Griffith’s position as professor of management at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley puts her in an ideal location to learn from and connect with some of the top management innovators in the world today.
There is nothing traditional about her worldview. Terri marries some of the core principles that define success in a world shaped by the Internet–transparency, sharing, collaboration, rapid prototyping–with a deliberate and repeatable approach that current and aspiring managers can use to ensure they make effective decisions in a rapidly-changing landscape.
A few particular strengths of this book: 1) it provides a set of well-designed, repeatable practices that will allow managers to quickly and easily begin to put theory into practice 2) it shares detailed, personal stories from managers at some of the most innovative organizations in the world, including Zappos, Nucor, IBM, Cisco, and Intuit 3) It includes a series of scenario-based assessment tools that will allow you to test how well your current approach matches that of the “plugged-in managers” she has researched. Quickly learn how far you’ve come (or how far you have to go).
If you are looking for ways to be a more effective manager in an Internet-enabled world, spending a few hours reading this book will be an excellent investment of your time.
After working with Eugene on the story of Wikimedia’s open strategic planning process, I’d remarked to him that the Wikimedia effort was one of the most successful, large-scale collaborative exercises I’d ever seen. Eugene replied that if I thought their project was big, I should read Power and Love to get a sense for the types of large-scale collaborative projects Adam tackles, often on the scale of nations.
It’s really a wonderful, introspective book, filled not just with successes but failures as well, and is probably one of the better-reviewed books I’ve seen on Amazon.
Adam is perhaps best known for his work facilitating the Mont Fleur Scenario Project in South Africa in the early 1990s. In an incredibly difficult, post-apartheid environment, Adam brought a diverse group of people together to collaborate on ways to smooth the country’s transition to democracy. He has since led collaborative projects in India, Guatemala, and Israel, among other places around the world, and describes many of these projects in the book.
As I read, I couldn’t help but notice one thematic appearing over and over. In many of Adam’s projects, there was little hope of getting everyone involved to rally around a shared purpose, something I view as a pre-requisite for building a successful community of passion. In fact, even when a fragile collaboration was pieced together in a workshop, it often would fall apart again quickly once the session was over.
In the open source world, we are usually lucky enough to be working with opt-in communities. Meaning, people are participating of their own free will, and have almost always joined the project because they share a common belief about what it might accomplish.
But reading Adam’s book has made me wonder, do the principles we regularly discuss here on opensource.com apply in communities where passion is strong, but not everyone shares a common purpose? Can open collaboration be successful in places where competing agendas are flourishing and not everyone has opted-in to the same project?
My experiences tell me that in communities without a shared purpose, productive open collaboration is usually incredibly difficult. Our current political environment here in the United States is certainly case study #1.
In the open source world, we don’t know how lucky we have it.
Do you think an open, collaborative approach can really succeed in environments where not everyone shares a common purpose and has joined of their own free will?
I’d love to hear what you think.
[This post originally appeared on opensource.com]
Polly LaBarre wrote a nice piece that was published on the Harvard Business Review blog today in which she highlighted the story that Philippe Beaudette, Eugene Eric Kim, and I wrote for the Management Innovation Exchange about the Wikimedia Foundation strategic planning project.
Basically, Eugene and Philippe organized and ran a strategic planning project that democratized what is usually a fairly aristocratic process, involving a community of 1000+ Wikimedia volunteers in helping craft strategy for the next five years.
Their story blew my mind when I first heard about it, and I hope it blows your mind too (but in a good way).