I just started reading Wikinomics by Don Tapscott & Anthony Williams. In just the first couple of chapters I can see that the authors have synthesized a lot of what has been rolling around in my mind for a while, but was unable to effectively articulate.

Probably first and most importantly is that the revolution that is happening in our society today is a cultural one not a technological one (though of course technology has been an enabler).

The fact that organizations will need to include those outside traditional boundries is becoming inevitable. Giovanni Rodriguez over on The future of communities blog cited Dell’s IdeaStorm as an example of the same cocreation/wikinomics referred to in the book.

The Subjective

"Subjective" gets no respect in the English language. It is only an adjective. "Objective" on the other hand is an adjective AND a noun. What’s up with that?

Organizations thrive on dealing with "the objective". MBA stuff, the objective gives direction, it is measurable. Good ones are short, to the point and motivating. Just what every good organization wants, a tool for driving the troops. …and I believe in all this!

Problem is that a data -> information-> measurable -> dispassionate approach to decision making looses the richness of subjectivity. The fact is, there is never really enough information to make any decision on a purely objective basis. Organizations should instead embrace subjectivity as a compliment to objectivity, as opposed to pretending that subjectivity is a bad thing.

Now for the cool tie-in. Web 2.0 (or whatever you want to call it) is the institutionalization of subjectivity. Conversation, community, networks are all examples of the nature of subjectivity. An infrastructure based on those principles will allow organizations to leverage subjectivity and make it a true compliment to the objective tools already in use.

With that in mind, I am lobbying that "subjective" be coined as a noun. It could mean the conversation we hope to achieve as an organization.

Design by Community

Acknowledgment to Russ Ackoff. This post is essentially a paraphrase of of his work.

  • Guidelines, policy, organizational direction should be defined by consensus of those impacted.
  • Decisions should be made by empowered individuals.

In my experience, most organizations get it backward. Most policies seem to be handed down from on high, based on recommendations of the "experts". Most decisions try to achieve consensus or must be pushed UP for final approval.

Design by Community / Decision by the Empowered Individual makes much more sense.