The blockchain is coming your way

Bitcoin index 21 July 2014

Bitcoin is the most famous cryptocurrency with the highest capitalization. As you can see from this screenshot from the "block reader" blockr, the capitalization at the time of writing is over eight billion dollars. According to citations of an IMF report on Wikipedia, that places it just above Moldova's GDP.

This post isn't about bitcoin but the cryptographic foundation of Bitcoin. (The community prefers to capitalize the word when referring to the system, and lower case when referring to the currency.) This post doesn't explain Bitcoin or the blockchain in detail – I recommend this series of presentations courtesy of the Khan Academy for those who want to learn more – but rather it's about the technology's wider application and its emergence and growth beyond the early adopters.

Get this into your block

So why am I interested in Bitcoin specifically, and its blockchain foundation more broadly? What does this have to do with social business?

We are contemplating blockchain platforms to enable decentralized consensus in the not too distant future, allowing us to codify, decentralize, secure and trade many things that historically have demanded some centralized facility. This is akin to the bitcoin currency functioning without the need for a central bank, and the vista includes voting, domain names, financial exchanges, crowd funding, organizational governance, intellectual property, contracts and agreements of most kinds. The landscape even extends to so-called smart property with appropriate hardware integration.

Sometimes I wish I was more of a wordsmith, but this word will have to suffice – wowzers! Continue reading

Deliberate and emergent, by design

crab sand

I've been trying to reconcile the apparent tensions between the deliberate and emergent strategy schools of thought. After all, it's a fundamental question at the heart of organizational life today.

Defining deliberate and emergent strategy

The deliberate strategy process is the one with which most people are most familiar if only because it dominated 20th Century organizational life and still does. A senior team reviews the market, the trends, the SWOT, the fruits of R&D, etc., and formulates strategy – where to play and how to win – that the wider organization is then charged with executing. And based on nothing more than atavistic agricultural habits that are now largely irrelevant, we exhibit a predilection for going through this process with a calendar based drumbeat.

Emergent strategy adherents on the other hand insist that such practice is pure fancy. It's divination beyond the realm of even the most cogent, gifted and able senior leadership team. The deliberate strategy process supports C-title egos and little else. Rather, we're better off making the organization sensitive to even the slightest changes, the weakest of signals, and developing an organizational fabric with the agility to react appropriately, to exploit opportunity and close down risk. Continue reading

Taxi! Hailing a ride, but not too far into the future

yellow cab new yorkThe controversy Uber is causing right now prompted me to delve into the archives. Way back. Back to March 2000 when I was pitching a proposition called Peoplestaxi to the likes of 3i and Avis. It got selected for First Tuesday's "Wireless Matchmaking" events too. Here's a quick extract:

Peoplestaxi leverages the latest technologies and customer-centric e-business philosophy to deliver the ubiquitous, convenient and intelligent taxi management service for business and consumers.

... Bookings are accurate and quality is assured. Punctuality, customer relationship management, personal safety, event critical booking, full account management, multi-payment methods and community grouping are all delivered automatically, seamlessly and brilliantly.

... As Peoplestaxi restructures the taxi market, existing taxi firms will have to affiliate, find some niche or eventually die.

I'm chuffed that I managed to reference the future collaborative / sharing economy in there – "community grouping" – but perhaps that last sentence was the choicest bit of crystal ball gazing.

So how come this didn't become Uber? In short order:

  1. Smartphones hadn't been invented
  2. GPS units still cost a thousand US
  3. Oh, and the dotcom bubble burst just then, spectacularly.

I learned that the first aren't always first. The timing of disruption is a function of the disruption.

Important – the Internet is changing to a new protocol

strips of light

The Internet has transformed the world. Period. I think it's important then to help everyone understand what it is exactly. I'm not talking degree-level understanding of computer networking, but a feel for the kind of thing going on 'under the hood'.

This post explains the new numbering system for the Internet – fundamental for the continued health and prosperity of the Internet this century – and does so without the reader needing any prior technical understanding. There's an executive summary if you only have two minutes. And then more detail if you fancy. It describes what your organization needs to be doing and why.

Most of the post is based on a document I wrote under the auspices of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

So let's get stuck in. Firstly, allow me to differentiate between two terms too often and erroneously used interchangeably.

The Internet and the World Wide Web are different things

The Internet emerged in the concluding months of the 1960s. The World Wide Web on the other hand, like many other protocols, 'runs' on top of the Internet, and first twinkled in the eye of Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. Continue reading

Measuring communications and reconciling models, after Amsterdam

The AMEC International Summit on Measurement played out in Amsterdam last week, and I tuned in from afar. On 18th June 2013 I published my thoughts on last year's events in Madrid, and I'll do the same now exactly one year on. Gladly. Gladly because I love the direction the AMEC community is going.

I don't intend to repeat any of the substance and lengthy and valuable commentary to my post last year – which I just enjoyed rereading, thank you. But I have taken the opportunity to append here the Slideshare that accompanied my assertions and that has accrued over three thousand views would you believe.

Perhaps one of my responses to the comments on last year's post is worth noting quickly, a response to Don Bartholomew:

I don't think of myself as a member of the measurement industry for the simple reason that I'm not! Rather, my company is a management consultancy helping organisations benefit from social media and related technologies. Our purview is very much about business performance, about organisational alignment for brilliant execution.

It's not about media

I believe the focus on outcomes in recent years is getting people to look up from media. AMEC is the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, not "of Media", and I'd go further than that. Here are some of my core assertions of recent years: Continue reading

The Mozilla Manifesto amplified, from Internet to organization

Mozilla manifesto amplifiedInspired by the analogy of organization-as-software, and indeed the reality of organization-as-software, what might it look like to take a manifesto about software and digital networks and apply it to human networks and organization?

In my recent presentation, The Future of Organization, I took the majority of the Mozilla manifesto and replaced references to the Internet with references to organization. I liked the result so much I thought I'd post it separately here for ease of reference. Continue reading

Organization is software

Angkor Thom, Cambodia
This post is about an exciting vista for organization, one that may sound unhuman on the face of it but which, in contrast, I think could serve human dignity very well.

I first presented it in my Future of Organization video May 23rd, a presentation that appears to have been well received (and the accompanying Slideshare accrued over 2000 views in the week). Given the variety and perceptiveness of the comments the video garnered I'm particularly pleased to have excused the presentation up front as being far from comprehensive. Pete Burden picked up on building inclusiveness and sustainability, and humanity, pointing me to this webpage on concious business. And soulfulness was at the heart of a similar exchange with Frederic Laloux, author of Reinventing Organizations. (I consequently elevated the book to the top of my to-read pile and at page 36 I'm enjoying it very much so far.)

Mr. Wirearchy himself, Jon Husband, was good enough to 'tweet out' (appended here). And my dear friend Gabbi Cahane wondered what balance of my living in the future and living in the present might be best for business. Hmm, good point :-)

In this post, I'm referring to what I've named Bread incorporated – a distributed, self-regulating, incorruptible, frictionless market for organization. Here's the slide in question and the transcript: Continue reading