Maybe we need a turn around artist. You’ve heard of these guys who go into a faltering company and bitch-slap them into profitability. They don’t have a great rep, but it’s a nasty job few are good at.
The problem with super-organisms is that they’re on their way to becoming real organisms, but they lack the full-on coordination tools, like a teenager in the awkward stage. Companies and nations are super-organisms that seem a lot more super than they are. When a company or nation is foundering, its internal fiefdoms start pointing fingers and avoiding blame. Sometimes the internal competition is killing the company faster than the company’s competitors. Make that usually internal competition does more harm than the competitors.
But, at a macro level, aren’t we seeing that all over our economy? Here’s Mitch quoting Marc Canter, founder of the core of what became Macromedia (Thanks, Mitch!):
So I see internal managers missing their big picture, competing with internal groups they should cooperate with, and Marc and Mitch see companies doing the same thing, trashing their tools’ utility to support bizplans that probably won’t work anyway.
Then there’s this apocalyptic insight from Mitch:
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt for people to have a surfeit of opportunities unmediated by the kinds of managements that prevail in Japan and here.
How About a Common Task Object Model – TOM Tomorrow?
This blog’s favorite meme: managerial capitalism seems powerful because it rigidly constrains our choices, but in fact managers are simply not very good at their main job of growing the economy and deploying talent (you and I wouldn’t be either, BTW).
We don’t have the Task Object Model protocols in place to hook the Frommet Company’s new data widget to the instantiation tool from Nick in Portland, using a Flash presentation tool created by George in Ann Arbor. So, Frommet hires a new team to do the whole solution which misses the market; Nick’s tool never gets used properly and George goes back to letting his clients talk him into using Flash to piss off their web site users.
But, as Marc says regarding media, there’s a solution to this mess. Let’s make it simpler to find solutions and work outside the company than to develop it inside, following Joy’s Law advising us that the best expert for your most important project isn’t in your company.
A Task Object Model will be common when it’s trivial for someone to describe a specialized solution or service and to offer it openly and freely to those who are known to be skilled purchasers of such services (skilled in building experts’ reputations and paying well—the core skill of a sound economy). Obviously, that’s the Xpertweb goal, but I never thought of the Task Object Model metaphor.
It’s not obvious that Xpertweb might be a tool for companies to develop products faster and more reliably. One of the great problems with in-house development is that you feel you have to use the people you’ve already got and the tools they’ve already mastered. Naturally that rarely works for new projects because the in-house skills haven’t been developed yet, but they are out there.
Xpertweb is designed to let the most talented people use their own consultancies to do for many what they now do only for their employers. With a viable Xpertweb system in place, the most active and clever people will leave first, just as the most energetic water molecules leave your coffee first. In both cases, their escape increases the reservoir of inactivity left behind. Companies will see this first as a problem but it’s really an opportunity—to link together ad hoc development teams as skillfully as Hollywood does it to produce films.