Organising to Maximize Connected Intelligence

Three recent books aid our understanding of how connected intelligence works to create value in organizations: The Wealth of Networks, Wikinomics and Mobilizing Minds.

Wealth of Networks

From studying the open source movement and Wikipedia, Yale Law Professor Yochai Benkler, in his book, Wealth of Networks (2006) explains “How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom”. Benkler describes how the Internet is taking an existing form of exchange - social sharing - from the periphery to the mainstream of the economy. Conventional economics cannot explain the success of volunteer-generated projects such as Wikipedia or open-source software, which are given away for free. Benkler offers a theory of social production to fill the gap.

“It is the feasibility of producing information, knowledge and culture through social, rather than market and proprietary relations, through cooperative peer production and coordinate individual action- that creates the opportunities for greater autonomous action, a more critical culture, a more discursively engaged and better informed republic, and perhaps a more equitable global community.” (Benkler 2006, p92)


Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (2006) results from a $9 million 5 year research effort. Authors Dan Tapscott and Andrew D. Williams conclude:
“Individuals can now actively participate in innovation, wealth creation and social development in ways we once only dreamed of. And when these masses of people collaborate they collectively can advance the arts, culture, science, education, government, and the economy in surprising but ultimately profitable ways.” (Tapscott & Williams 2006, p3)
Furthermore, they argue that in order for organizations to be successful will require not just adjustments to existing strategy but a new way of thinking and organizing which embraces the art and science of collaboration. They call this way of thinking “Wikinomics” (Tapscott & Williams 2006). Their approach to accelerating discovery is based on four principles: Accessing peers, being open and transparent, sharing, and acting globally. Not only was the book the result of the collaborative work of over 100 contributors; the final chapter is a collaboratively written piece openly added to by the public.

Mobilizing Minds

In Mobilizing Minds (2007) McKinsey consultants Bryan and Joyce build on research of the top 150 companies to show that today strategic advantage comes from organizational structure. Organisational form no longer follows function. The authors conclude that in a “thinking” rather than labor intensive 21st century environment, collaboration is the great new opportunity and organizations need to structure to enable collaboration, mining collective intelligence and adapting to complexity constraints in the digital age. For Bryan and Joyce this involves: 1) Backbone Line Structure 2) One Company Governance 3) Dynamic Management 4) Formal Networks 5) Talent Marketplaces 6) Knowledge Marketplaces 7) Financial Performance Management - Motivating economic Behavior 8) Role Specific Performance Evaluation 9) Strategy – as a Portfolio of Initiatives

Significantly “Mobilizing Minds” also demands rethinking metrics used to measure performance. Bryan and Joyce propose “Profit Per Employee” reflecting business productivity based on connected intelligence or intangible assets, not returns on capital as the best proxy for measuring profitability. No doubt this presents a problem for top management comfortable with measuring returns on financial capital for short-term results.

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From "Learning Through Participation and Connecting Intelligences: Experimenting with a Wiki to Co-create an Article:
Submission to Knowledge Tree eJournal 2007 by Jenny Ambrozek, Victoria Axelrod & Kiki Mulliner