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I share your point of view.

I think ET is a unique place where a high-level collective debate can take place while being open to anyone who wants to participate.  It is a unique place for sharing information and knowledge and I have learnt a lot here. In fact, it is one of the best examples of collective intelligence-building I know. Participating in ET is an asset and I think we all benefit from the knowledge we've acquired through ET in our professional or broader social activities.

While I understand those who would like to see this extraordinary intellectual potential better exploited, I am very sceptical about ET becoming a consulting organisation or a think-tank for several reasons. First of all, I have been working in the consulting business and with think-tanks for years and I know how hard it would be to convince potential customers of the specific added value of ET and to establish our credibility in a sector where the competition is very hard. Except for a limited number of persons who know it, ET is not a brand yet.

But the most important issue is that if we were to develop this kind of activities, it would have a major impact on the nature of ET, the way it functions and on its image. Why? First, consulting and online collective blogging don't have the same purposes, timelines and priorities, nor do they require the same skills and work organisation, so make them coexist would be very difficult. Also, combining non-for-profit and for-profit activities within the same organisation is almost impossible; I know several organisations that tried to do it and none of them have succeeded. ET contributors involved in business-oriented projects would inevitably focus their time and energy on these projects. Finally the ET image would be blurred: for our audience, a key asset of ET is the fact that we have nothing to sell.

However, ET can be a place where people can meet, discuss projects proposals and create ad hoc teams around common projects. It is already the case and the more it happens, the better. We could even expect those who have started successful projects thanks to ET to make a financial contribution. But these project's are ET's by-products, not it's raison d'être and that doesn't make ET a think-tank, nor a consulting organisation.

I agree with you: our first goal should be to develop our audience both by expanding our users base and by building a network of media (the press, blogs...) who would channel our ideas or link to our debates.  The recent links with PSEmanifesto and the LibDems show it is possible.

We have been very successful in drafting LTEs and Op-eds. I think we should focus on producing more of them. In order to do so, we should improve the way we work, maybe by adopting collaborative tools.  We could also produce more in-depth contributions (a ~10 pages note) on some issues. I doubt we can easily make a summary of our debates: it would require a lot of work. I think it's better to identify an issue on which we would like to draft a note, to define the document's plan and to collectively work on it.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Nov 9th, 2007 at 08:45:06 AM EST
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I agree with you that any such projects are by-products. As I stated earlier, they are best conducted outside ET using different software that enables a different kind of practical collaboration. I don't see any reason however why such a 'work group site' might not extend the brand in some way. But this is all in the future.

What is true IMO is that collaboration and cooperation are the major factors in ET's building success. It is inevitable that these processes would produce all sorts of relationships that might have a life outside of ET - personal, political, professional etc. As they do.

As you say, ET can be and is a place for meeting, kicking stuff around, and possibly forming teams around common projects. But the key (and filter) is that ET is open, visible to all, and this naturally precludes any discussion of commercial ventures except in the broadest terms. ET is already a ThinkLab - an incubator. What we have to work out is how best to allow incubation to develop. And the only place we have to discuss it is here ;-)

I disagree with you on virtual organizations. I spend a lot of my time communicating with clients and team members by email and mobile. I often have no idea where they are geographically. I think Chris is talking about a virtual company of the future. I certainly am. The tools are not all in place yet, but they are being developed.

As you say, it would be hard to convince clients of the value of ET without a track record. But, like you, ET naturally does influence what I do commercially, certainly in thinking about concepts, because I have learned a lot.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Nov 9th, 2007 at 09:51:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is true IMO is that collaboration and cooperation are the major factors in ET's building success. It is inevitable that these processes would produce all sorts of relationships that might have a life outside of ET - personal, political, professional etc. As they do.

I agree and I think that ET's fertility, i.e. its capacity to foster multiple relationships, including professional projects, is one of the best indicators of its success.

I don't see any reason however why such a 'work group site' might not extend the brand in some way.

Sure, in a near future, we will proudly say we were early Eurotribuns and put the label on our projects. In fact I already mention it, but I still have to explain what ET is...

I disagree with you on virtual organizations.

There is some misunderstanding here. I never mentioned virtual organisations in a negative way. I work quite often with networks involving people I've never met for projects which bring us together on a temporary basis (I usually check on Google maps to find where they are located, but it's for the fun of it). I guess it's what you would call virtual organisations. And, as you know well, I'm very much interested in thinking the future forms of companies...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Nov 9th, 2007 at 10:57:50 AM EST
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Yes, I overextrapolated ;-) We've discussed plenty about future organizations. So I think I know where you stand.

What I was trying to say - and I think you'll agree - was that we cannot compare the potential of new forms of organizations with existing organizations because the circumstances are changing. As you say - it would be difficult to persuade companies to take on some mysterious group called ET as a consultant in the traditional sense, just as it would have been impossible to sell an OR multidisciplinary group pre-1939.

But there came a war which changed the whole context of business and problem solving, with new types of organizations (like OR) proving better at finding solutions faster - especially technologcícal and logistic ones. This was to influence the development in the Fifties onward till the present day, of a logistic linear based hierarchic system of management and transaction wisdom. W*stern management and organizational structuring (a personal view, of course) is a direct descendent of those dark days in Europe of WWII - because our dads were there, and they were still running the show until a few years ago. And they trained the following generation well in their methods.

Now I look at organizations like Nokia and the overall average age is under 30. Yes, the senior management is still born of the immediate post-war period, but the upcoming management is very interesting. They maybe know their history, but it is not tactile. In Finland at least, I get a strong feeling from this group of current middle management that there are some deep questions about the sustainability of business today. There's a kind of search for what we should do about it, but nothing concrete yet.

It is interesting that several business schools in Scandinavia now study culture, including the Arts, as much as business. Or rather study the Arts, eg as alternative organizational types. And that is one of the reasons why ET CAN be an agent of change. Science, politics and culture not only exist side by side - they interact.

To have a recommended diary list starting with 100 dollar oil, with the next item being one of RGs amazing visual extravaganzas, then shoes, then Chechenya, then politics in Belgium is precisely the type of OR actvity that we need now and will need in the future, We are looking to change the system AND IT DOESN'T NEED TO WORK in the old world. That was my point - but I suckered myself into a virtual organization rap, mon ami. Forgive me.

.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Nov 9th, 2007 at 06:52:15 PM EST
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