"The concept of offshoring will cease to exist. Talent will exist globally and companies will go where the talent is. The purpose will not be to get the lowest-cost labor, but rather the highest-quality talent."
When it comes to organization you might have thought ants were pretty close to perfection. Every member of a colony knows its knows its place and exactly what its role in life is. It's a system that's worked for probably millions of years, but recently one species has found there is room for improvement. And it's having a devastating effect on every other life form that comes into contact with it.
There is a frighteningly detailed report in Science Daily describing the 'new pest'. Well to us it might be a destructive and disruptive pest, but to this fairly unknown group of ants this is success. If they were people they'd be dominating their market.
The 'lasius neglectus' species got its name because it was ignored by science. Not any more. It's now creating 'super-colonies' which are destroying everything in their path as they cut a swathe across Europe. The secret of their success is the presence of multiple queens in a single colony. Other ant organizations fall apart when their single queen is taken out.
Could a similarly loose form of organization have a similar effect on the world of work? As global businesses with fixed goals and structures crumble under the impact of the credit crunch it's a vital question.
At ki work we believe there is an alternative in the form of 'collaborative capitalism'. The development of loose, flexible business organizations able to adapt without cost almost instantly to change poses as much of a threat to 'traditional' companies as the 'lasius neglectus' has had on the ecosystems it's come into contact with.
Until recently the ants didn't pose too much of a threat as they don't fly. But they've also found a new way to travel, hitching rides in flower pots transported across borders. Is this the insect internet?
Have ants found the answer to business growth?
Just a few weeks ago we seemed to be facing economic Armageddon. For the short term we've been saved from meltdown thanks to George W Bush, Gordon Brown and other western leaders following in Lenin's footsteps and nationalizing many banks.
Whatever happens, it's going to be a long time before trust in financial institutions is restored. And, lest we forget, our faith in Wall Street was already pretty fragile after the accounting scandals of Enron and the rest. I wonder if these crises are merely symptoms of something rather more profound.
There's a real chance we may be reaching the end of managerial capitalism or Capitalism 2.0 after 150 years or so. Let me explain what I mean with some gross oversimplification. But, hey, this is a blog not a masters dissertation.
Capitalism 1.0 was personified by the boss who was both owner and manager. He made all the decisions, hired, fired and kept the profits or suffered the losses. It was nice and simple, but it couldn't stay that way.
The cost of the machinery and new production techniques of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century meant bigger was almost always better or at least more profitable. So bosses started selling a share of their businesses to banks, other companies and individuals to fund expansion.
Eventually many bosses owned only a minority stake in their businesses. Their companies had also often become so big they were beyond the control of one person. So managers were hired to run the businesses and managerial capitalism or Capitalism 2.0 was born.
It's been a remarkably successful and resilient economic system for over 150 years. The ability to adapt to has been managerial capitalism's greatest strength, but as it's developed the division between ownership and control has become both wider and more blurred.
As a result more 'ordinary' people have a direct stake in their economy than ever before. In many countries the majority of the population have borrowed the money to own the homes they live in. Their savings are often invested in pension funds which are among the most powerful institutions driving the world's stock markets.
Despite the broadening of ownership most people have little influence on the running of the businesses they have a share in. In fact this downturn will see people laid off by companies they partly own through their pension funds.
Of course nobody worried too much about all this while the global economy was booming. It all looks a bit different as we peer over the edge into a recession of uncertain depth and length. But we do know that nothing will ever be the same. Trust in banks and other Capitalism 2.0 institutions has been damaged, perhaps fatally.
From the chaos something new will rise, perhaps Capitalism 3.0 or 'Collaborative Capitalism' as it's being dubbed. The underlying forces that could create this new way of working have been developing for years and they can fundamentally alter the economic forces that have made managerial capitalism so successful.
In many knowledge industries economies of scale have been turned on their head. Individuals and small businesses can compete with corporations on price and earn a reasonable return.
The key force in this is the Internet. It's given knowledge workers access to many of the tools which were until recently only available in large offices with sophisticated data networks. All freelancers are missing are corporate overheads and real estate costs. Big business should be worried.
Look at the corporate success stories of the digital age such as Google, eBay and Amazon. All collaborate with their customers. In fact the divisions between customers, suppliers and competitors can be so blurred as to be meaningless. For instance, on an Amazon product page you'll find outside companies offering prices below Amazon's own.
Have a look inside at ki work's platform. See how collaborative capitalism 3.0 can provide a platform for professionals to work together and create their own virtual businesses than can undercut bricks-and-mortar corporations bidding for major projects.
When I came across ki work a few months ago it was the first question that came into my head. Are they after my money? I'm not used to paying for stuff on line, in fact I'd like to think I've become something of an expert at finding free internet software and services. And I don't mean stealing. Sometimes that's meant, as my mother used to say, I've been a long way for a short cut.
Neil OConnell is the latest to join ki work as a category leader - in the specialist marketplace of supply chain management software. His 17-year success story includes four years as CTO of supply chain and logistics provider StonePath as it grew from zero to $350 million in revenue. At Oracle he led the North American Industrial Supply Chain Group. His experience includes B2B, B2C, ecommerce for retailers and manufacturers along with third party logistics providers.
Neil Says: "As we continue to race forward with advances in technology and the emergence of more and more countries in the supply chain the software community will require better ways to collaborate and deliver to enterprises worldwide. ki work affords us the opportunity to build a brand and reputation that eliminates the barriers of location."
To join Neil's marketplace, either to find or outsource work, simply go to Neil's SCM software marketplace, and create a service offer or project. Neil is also looking for Experts to build teams for larger projects - contact Neil directly via ki work if this interests you.
Anders Abrahamsson has become ki work's category leader for sustainability entrepreneurship, or 'sustainopreneurship'. He is already running or developing six ventures: SLICE Services and Publishing™, DJ Anders, ÆREAS(i), Club2Club, Ignition® Communications and SEEDS Innovation Fund - which can all be found at Anders' personal website.
The aim of sustainopreneurship is to use entrepreneurial methods to solve sustainability problems in areas such as health, illiteracy, poverty, communication, energy, water and food security. The solutions should allow the stakeholders to get their needs fulfilled in ways that respect all life support systems. You can read more about the concept in this Wikipedia entry.
“In an effort to deliver options beyond today’s business-as-usual thinking my goal is recruit 75 world-changing experts to the sustainability entrepreneurship category. We want to support those with business goals of improving our relationship with the planet and peoples, as agents of change, making meaning and money at the same time; by turning the biggest problems of our world to even larger business opportunities. In short – businesses with a cause.”
To find or outsource work in this area, simply go to the sustainability entrepreneurship marketplace and post a service offer or project.
Michael Wolff, ki work's CEO and founder, is putting his skill and experience where his mouth is by becoming the category leader for International Outsourcing Consulting. As CEO of Lydiastar Telecommunications Michael was a pioneer in the world of outsourcing.
He explains: "I founded ki work to build a Web 2.0 infrastructure where freelance entrepreneurs can collaborate and find work from wherever they are. 'Live local - work global' is the motto.
"With resources in all other areas of business globalizing, the remote workforce is an inevitable solution to modern business needs. ki work is powering this revolution."
Michael will be explaining why he became a category leader on ki work too. See ki work webinars for more details.
If you're an outsourcing consultant, or are looking for one, you can post your services or projects you need doing for free at the International Outsourcing Consulting marketplace.
Wednesday 28th January
9am PDT - 12pm EDT
Anders Abrahamsson on Sustainability Entrepreneurship