[ECAR 2006] Christopher Meyer – Sustaining the Workforce – Attracting and Cultivating Talent in the 21st Century

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Chris Meyer is CEO of Monitor Networks, who “Connect challenging problems with talented thinkers”.

His latest book is titled ““It’s Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology and Business”

Chris started off by noting that networks(and he means human networks as well as the technologies that enable them) make markets better, and institutions haven’t generally taken advantage of that. Examples of networks at work to make markets better include the success of Linux development, or the prize that Netflix is offering for anyone who can improve the success of the algorithm they use to predict related films people will like.

In the 21st century work is about how to be a node in a talent network.

Drivers of economic change include science, technology, business, and organization, which happen in that order. What’s the organizational model in a world of information-intensive business?

The industrial model of business led to big institutions, but that’s not an inevitable model in the information age. The current methods of strategic planning grew out of this industrial business model – the smart people at the top of an organization figure out what to do, create plans, and then implement them. The model of strategic planning assumes yo can lay out a strategy, then figure out a structure to go with it, then change systems and culture around that structure. The problem is that strategy and structure can change far more rapidly than systems and norms.

“Culture will defeat strategy every time” – Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO of Ericsson

So how can organizations create adaptive culture?

“At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity” (Stuart Kauffman)

Memes – How management evolves – replicating units of culture.

Talent – bringing a new meme pool into an organization when you hire.

meme #1 – Power is shifting to individuals.
In an information economy the scarce resource is intellectual capital. Call for a fundamental change in the relationship between individuals and institutions.

“Talented people need organizations less than organizations need talented people.”

Highly diverse and playful teams of talented people working on exploratory problems.

Networks – 3 intersecting frontiers: Technology, Science (networks and the science of human connectedness), and behavior.

“Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age” (Duncan J. Watts) – small world networks have a certain amount of randomness in the connections between people.

Clustering among people in organizations is not random, so meme diversity is low.

Network economics and the 80-20 rule vs. the long tail.

Sales in the long tail are very profitable and change the dynamics of markets.

The producer world – The Invisible handshake.
open sources as a business model

“Our civil war is digital rights management”

Book – “Innovation Happens Elsewhere: Open Source as Business Strategy” (Ron Goldman, Richard P. Gabriel)

meme + meme = a networked market for expertise, e.g. InnoCentive, a marketplace where seeker companies find problem solvers.

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else” – Bill Joy.

Worknets – emerging principles

Start with the work, not the network

1. Define your work
– networks are great at ascanning
– innovating
– convene – networks can bring diverse thinkers together.
– allocate
– influence

2. Talent
– content: segments, roles, talent

3. Exchange
– economic, informational, emotional aspects of value
– what’s in it for the participants?

4. Experience of being in the network
– design the experience – what does it feel like?

THEN you can think about

5. The technology, virtual and physical.

Creating the experience around your brand.

He asked Josh Epstein – agent-based modeling expert, what’s good about universities: “Leaving aside tenure and money, it is connectedness, access to the other best thinkers. You cannot physically assemble them all in one place, but you can guarantee that they’re in your network.”

How will universities adapt?

We have some abiliity to decrease the cost of increasing the flux – nodal vs. institutional – the university as worknet.

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Put a rookie in the starting lineup every year – Branch Rickey – what would happen if you did turn over 12% of your management team each year, or 12% of your systems?

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