Sharing information and Collaboration

Today I stumbled upon some good thoughts by JP Rangaswami (“Of shoes and money …. and information“) on trust, collaboration, free flow of information and more. Sad but true, but that’s the state of the union:

I have found the following to be true of large organisations:

– We stress the importance of human resources, human talent, human capital
– We stress the importance of teamwork and collaboration
– We stress the importance of openness and transparency
– We stress the importance of trust

And then, mysteriously, we somehow manage to create an environment where we jealously guard information; where we seek to create and extend power as a result of this jealous guarding; where we then exploit this power in all kinds of ways

[…] Once we impute value to information, we create a reason for people to have secrets. To hide things.

And then it’s a downward spiral. Does it make sense to hide things from your customer? Does it make sense to have asymmetric information within the firm? Once we start acting as if information has value by and of itself, it is only a matter of time before people start using this information to gain personal advantage within the firm.

And once this happens, we can forget about all the nice things we say organisations stand for: openness, transparency, teamwork, collaboration, respect for the individual. Trust. We can forget about all of it, because we allow the very basis of this to be corrupted.

Let us bear that in mind as we move on. We should concentrate on providing good service and good product, concentrate on providing that service honestly and diligently. And the money will flow. Not by hoarding information, but by freeing it up. Collaborating with each other, within the firm, with our customers, with our partners, with our markets. Even with our competitors.

So when I found this podcast with Mitch Kapor, President of the Open Source Applications Foundation and chair of the Mozilla Foundation, in my feeds today it made click. Mitch argues that Open Source

has some great virtues that deserve to be spread through all of society, not just the computing industry (at IT Conversations, mp3 here).

Well, we’ve got much to learn from open source paradigms, i.e. changed paradigms of collaboration, free flow of information etc. Let’s start with more collaborative organizations.

ps. From a business model innovation perspective JPs follow-up post is also interesting, on open source business models.

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