Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pulling the Core to the Edge

In a recent post I discussed a few aspects of the book The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion that I heard of during a Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Lecture Series talk by John Seely Brown. Within the talk Brown uses the substantial and rapid knowledge growth and distribution among World of Warcraft gamers as an example of the efficiencies and scale of ideas that can be obtained in a pull based knowledge economy. Brown states “Look at the knowledge economy on the edge of this game.” According to Brown, the World of Warcraft gamers produce 12,000 ideas on average every night. The gamers have dashboards of data informing them and keeping them updated on new data and ideas, they review and critique submissions from other gamers, and they review game actions to improve performance! This was not in the actual core of the game but rather on the organized periphery where gamers interact.
Within the talk Brown also mentioned how that organizations need to “pull their core to the edge.” I thought, wow! Now that is interesting! Poking around on Google I found an article in the Harvard Business Review Blog entitled “How to Bring the Core to the Edge.” by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison.

In short, the article states the:
Edges within firms represent early stage business initiatives with high growth potential, whether new market-oriented initiatives or new work practices, often generated by the born-digital generation entering the workforce…. The ‘core,’ by contrast, is where the money and resources are today, whether we are talking geographically about the developed economies of the US, Western Europe, and Japan, demographically about the older generations with greater income and assets or technologically about mature technologies driving today's revenue and profitability. At the firm level, the core symbolizes the inside of the enterprise, its principal capabilities and primary revenue streams…. Edges spawn significant growth opportunities but, to scale this growth, it is essential for edge participants to gain access to the resources and markets of the core. At the same time, core participants experience margin pressures as competition intensifies and become increasingly desperate for new growth platforms to continue to create economic value…. Disruption theory suggests it's by bringing the edge to the core.

The article then states, "The approach we suggest is to instead bring the core to the edge, to expose your company to institutional innovations and new management practices that emerge on the edge."

Now this is good stuff! Imagine bringing the creative edge of your organization into a symbiotic relationship with the company core. This would result in positive disruption for the organization in general and individuals in the company in particular.

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