The chaotic world of work

Here are some of the insights and observations that were shared via Twitter this past week.

@JenniferSertl – “Your competitive advantage is not where you work or what you do. It is the accuracy & articulation of your observations & life experiences.

@mbauwens – ‘Occupy’ as a business model: The emerging open-source civilisation – via @jerrymichalski @petervan

In commons-oriented peer production (first theorised by Yochai Benkler in his The Wealth of Networks, a “p2p” updating of Adam Smith), core value creation occurs through contributors to a shared innovation pool, a commons of knowledge, software or design. The contributors may be volunteers or paid employees. Importantly, even paid contributors add to the common pool. Why?

Because shared innovation makes an enormous difference in costs (give a brick, get a house), and it is also hyper-competitive. A recent study by the makers of the Open Governance Index, which measures the openness of software projects, confirms that more open projects do much better in the long-run than more closed projects. In other words, it makes sound business sense: open businesses tend to drive out business models based on proprietary IP. So it doesn’t matter whether you are a “commonist” free software developer, or a capitalist shareholder of IBM. Both sides benefit and they outcompete or “outcooperate” traditional proprietary competitors.

@hansdezwart – Welcome to the Chaos: The Distributed Workspace

Lori McLeese is the HR lead of Automattic (she is the only HR person at the company of about hundred people now). Nikolay Bachiyski is a developer. The company is 100% distributed and has been like that from day one. They are located in 24 countries and 79 cities. In only 7 cities do they have more than one “Automatician” living and working. They do not have offices and no set working time. Most people work on a single big project:

One thing that they’ve found is that it is hard to build personal relationships. They test new staff in a trial project to see if they are a fit for the culture of the company. The trial can last for a few weeks or even a few months. Once you finish it successfully you are “welcomed to the chaos” and will have to do your first three weeks working in “happiness” which is their customer support team. This helps you learn in a safe environment and teaches you to respect the happiness engineers. You are also learning that it is always ok to ask questions, to bug people and to over-communicate.

@oscarberg – enterprise software significantly hampers knowledge work

Did you know that user-centric organizations achieve 23% higher revenue per employee than those that are technology-centric? And did you know that productivity has dropped 17% the last years in enterprise software usage? If this doesn’t make you think twice about how you approach new IT investments, then someone – probably the owners of your organization – should be really worried.

@margaretatwood – Atwood in the Twittersphere – via @JudithELS

But despite their sometimes strange appearances, I’m well pleased with my followers—I have a number of techno-geeks and bio-geeks, as well as many book fans. They’re a playful but also a helpful group. If you ask them for advice, it’s immediately forthcoming: thanks to them, I learned how to make a Twitpic photo appear as if by magic, and how to shorten a URL using or tinyurl. They’ve sent me many interesting items pertaining to artificially-grown pig flesh, unusual slugs, and the like. (They deduce my interests.) Some of them have appeared at tour events bearing small packages of organic shade-grown fair-trade coffee. I’ve even had a special badge made by a follower, just for me: “The ‘call me a visionary, because I do a pretty convincing science dystopia’ badge.”

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