Saturday, 25 August 2012

The four principles of openness

In a recent TED talk, Don Tapscott talks about the four principles of openness which are sweeping across the world with tremendous consequences for institutions.

The first principle is collaboration. Essentially, the boundaries of institutions are becoming more porous.

We used to say that an organisation's people were its greatest asset. But now we say that we must look beyond the boundaries of the institution, to customers, suppliers and even more diverse communities, for the skills, capabilities and insights required to deliver innovation and performance. This has tremendous implications for security, confidentiality, etc.

As we move from social media to social production, organisations clinging to the old models and building higher walls around themselves (for example, banning social media) risk getting left behind.

The second principle is transparency. Now that almost everyone has powerful tools for finding, analyzing and publishing information, institutions are easily stripped naked. In naked institutions, values become more evident, and therefore more important, as stakeholders can easily look beyond what institutions say to what they actually do behind the scenes.

The third principle is sharing. This is the willingness to give up control. Institutions must do this not because they choose to but because they have no choice.

The music industry resisted sharing, and so customers found ways to share music without the established players. Whilst the incumbents struggled to find redress by suing their teenage target market, other companies gained control by finding new models of sharing. High-industries like pharmaceuticals are increasingly compelled to share research data and collaborate or risk their patent pipelines drying up.

The fourth principle is empowerment. If knowledge is power, then the sharing of knowledge brings the distribution of power. The arab spring is the most frequently cited example of this but I believe we will start to see this effect increasingly impact everyday life with customers taking an increasingly active and collective role in markets. We're starting to see products that capitalise on this, for example, building crowd-sourcing not just into the development process, but into the products themselves.

As we develop strategies for the future, we need to understand how these strategies will respond an thrive in this new environment. What do you think?

You can watch the original TED talk below: