All comments posted on this blog do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am affiliated with. These are my personal perspectives only.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Does Mass Collaboration = Mediocre Innovation?

One common concern I hear from people around mass collaboration is that it will result in perpetuating the average and mediocre. For those truly breakthrough concepts, truly disruptive innovations, mass collaboration drowns out those voices. Could it be that we're not really tapping into the long tail for most of the web 2.0 but really just growing the mass market?

It all depends on the situation and application. This is one of the reasons a "do nothing and Enterprise 2.0 will just happen anyways" tactic concerns me. For some applications in the E2.0 space it really isn't about innovation. For example, Wikipedia is about facts not creativity. There should only be 1 answer and given enough people to draw from we should be able to get to those facts faster. Innovation really doesn't matter.

In other situations, let's use American Idol as an example that is looking to sell you a product from a limited number of products versus creating new products, again, innovation doesn't matter as much. (Yes I realize I used American Idol in a discussion of E2.0... Yikes...)

But if you are trying to tap into the masses to create a future disruptor is it possible? The nature of disruption is that it's not easily understood. That the "many" may vote it down, because it is beyond their comprehension or perhaps anybody's comprehension for that matter.

The design of the next breed of collaborative tools for the enterprise will need to tap into the long tail to provide as many diverse possible combinations of concepts and original ideas, but it equally needs to design a model that allows for those radical concepts to be identified and nurtured.

How do you do this? Perhaps it's combing E2.0 with closed collaboration of experts to drive the next set of breakthroughs. Wouldn't you rather have a group of the top surgeons come up with the cure for a medical problem you have versus putting it open to the world to pick the best treatment? Of course, you'd want as many different options as possible for them to select from and elaborate on.

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