Communities v. Companies
BCG recently released this video of an interview with Chris Anderson (formerly Editor of Wired Magazine and more recently CEO of 3D Robotics) as part of its Technology Disruption series.
In it he argues a number of interesting points, including that:
- There's a distinct difference between companies and communities
- Moore's Law and the resulting exponential improvements in the price-performance equation are creating the conditions that enable communities to emerge and thrive (i.e. the means of communicating and networking and access to DIY manufacturing, research, production etc.)
- You need to ask yourself which has primacy in your business model because at some point the two will come into conflict
- If you get the community right, opportunities will flow for the company
- If you get the community wrong, the engine of innovation will disappear and you'll harm the company
- Communities actually require a greater leadership than companies (contrary to popular perceptions of them being self-organising etc.)
So why is this of interest in the context of disruption? The answer is that so many of the things that define a community are the exact opposite of the things that underpin our traditional view of the company. More importantly, it's much easier to make the leap from the traditional company to the new world community on an intellectual basis than it is to do it in practice. The reality is that, if Chris Anderson is correct, most incumbents won't realise it until it's too late and those that do will struggle to make the transition because they are simply too invested in the mindsets (beliefs, assumptions, orthodoxies etc.) of the traditional company to make the transition in a meaningful way. That's a recipe for disruption.