“The money on the table is like krill: a billion little entrepreneurial opportunities that can be discovered and exploited by smart, creative people.” Landon Kettlewell, fictional CEO Kodak/Duracell in Cory Doctorow’s “Makers”
I’ve finally finished reading Cory Doctorow’s new novel “Makers” and – like a lot of people I suspect – needed to take a little break afterward to put my brain back together again. It’s the usual Doctorow high octane cocktail: stuffed full of imaginative near-future action & immutable human frailty, at times the plot veers close to depicting a post-capitalist, economic Armageddon. I’m not going to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it by saying more. Instead, against an ever-increasing backdrop of recent pieces examining crowdsourcing (here are two of our own, here and here), I wanted to dig quickly into a single thought that the book provoked in me within its first few pages.
What if, instead of thinking about sourcing from the crowd, we reverse engineer that thought. In other words, why not send the company out into the crowd?
As Doctorow’s character Kettlewell (more force of nature than human being) puts it:
“Our business plan is simple: we will hire the smartest people we can find and put them in small teams. They will go into the field …capitalized to find a place to live and work, and a job to do. A business to start. Our business to start. Our company isn’t a project that pull together on, it’s a network of like-minded, cooperating autonomous teams, all of which are empowered to do whatever they want, provided that it returns something to our coffers. We will explore and exhaust the realm of commercial opportunities, and seek constantly to refine our tactics to mine those opportunities, and the krill will strain through our mighty maw and fill our hungry belly. This company isn’t a company any more: this company is a network, an approach, a sensibility.”