In the last issue of Strategy+business, Nicolas G.Carr gives this title to his article. An excellent read.
Read it in full at http://www.strategy-business.com/press/freearticle/07204 or at least take the gist I have got from it (my own interpretation of what he says for my concerns with internal corporate community's life):
- As ERic raymond mentionned in a seminal paper of 97 on open source creation, one should not mix the Cathedral and the Bazaar in the art of co creation. Cathedral is the structure around knowledge, bazaar is peer to peer developments of ideas.
- Peer production is good for incremental improvements, it is not an innovation model.
- As for any community, 's work helps solve fast myriads of little problems (called bugs in IT but with other words in other communities)
- The power of problem solving in communities comes partially from the size (critical size is a flexible concept however and could mean 20 in some cases and 2000 in others), and partialy from the diversity of skills (what I call the variance of skills in my consulting jargon. A community of equal lame ducks will hardly produce anything)
- A central authority is necessary for managing this bazaar. Without it the outputs are relatively poor, could even be wrong. The central authority is the only one able to transform series of good increments into a corpus of new knowledge.
- A genius or a series of good thinkers is essential at the start of any idea because incrementalism cant work on "nothing", it needs a base to start increment on (obvious? no?)
- In short a community will be successful if a good idea is put on the block, a number of good and diverse people work on bits and pieces of it and finally a good team of very good people transforms the output into a real good piece of new knowledge.
All this seems to be good common sense, and as always with common sense it is difficult to implement it...