Sunday, November 25, 2007

Radio Interview and Elevator Pitch

I recently "elevator pitched" OpenTeams at the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship IT/Web 2.0 Forum. If you'd like to hear the two minute pitch, they recorded it here. I'll admit I was a little rough at first as I tried to avoid using my notes much, but I soon realized I was running out of time fast (they had a 90 second countdown timer), and smoothly finished out by reading straight from my notes. Not great speech etiquette, but I had to hit a lot of their checklist items in a very short time.

The pitch caught Russ Capper's attention from The BusinessMakers Radio Show, and he very generously asked me to participate in a longer interview at their studios about OpenTeams and my background. I'm used to communications where I have ample editing time (email, blog, documents, Powerpoint, even speech writing), so real-time, live-recorded Q&A was a bit nerve-wracking. But it went surprisingly well, and they did a fantastic editing job, cleaning it up into a very tight 18-minute segment you can hear here, or even download it as a podcast.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Opportunistic Innovation as Strategy

Caught this book review of "Strategic Intuition" in the Wall Street Journal, which is a great fit with what OpenTeams can do for your company:

Set big goals. Do whatever it takes to reach them. These muscular sentences form the core of commencement addresses, business-advice books, political movements and even the United Nations approach to global poverty. In "Strategic Intuition," a concise and entertaining treatise on human achievement, William Duggan says that such pronouncements are not only banal but wrong.

Mr. Duggan, who teaches strategy at Columbia Business School, argues that the commonplace formula has it backward. Instead of setting goals first, he says, it is better to watch for opportunities with large payoffs at low costs and only then set your goals. That is what innovators throughout history have done, as Mr. Duggan shows in a deliriously fast-paced tour of history.


One of the insights of "Strategic Intuition" is that business makes progress by following the opportunistic innovation model, while governments and international-aid agencies aim repetitively at rigid social goals.


If there are still businessmen who feel compelled to follow a fixed-goal plan -- missing out on the profits of opportunistic flexibility -- then at least there is the free market to punish them. Market feedback is surely one big reason that we have so many innovative entrepreneurs.

Of course, OpenTeams is a great environment for sparking and developing opportunistic innovation options by tapping the wisdom and insights of employees at all levels.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The case for collaboration software over email

The St. Edmonds Lab at NetX blog has a nice plug for OpenTeams, but what's great about the post is their creative articulation of the need for collaborative software instead of email (specifically in the context of a creative ad agency). This graphic hilariously makes the point:

Here's a scary statistic:
Research shows that staff source between 50%-75% of information relevant to their work from other people. It also shows that more than 80% of an organisation’s digitised information resides on individual hard drives and inside personal files. This means that individuals - rather than the organisation - control the bulk of essential knowledge within an agency.
And a very pointed conclusion:
The need for better knowledge management in creative processes is evident. Campaigns are becoming more and more sophisticated to succeed in a fragmented media environment. If agencies don’t learn from mistakes and successes, they can never be better than their current workforce allows them to be. And since any key person leaves an organization at some point, they take with them a wide spectrum of extremely valuable knowledge, including industry and target group insights, confidential data and relationships. If the agency’s creative knowledge then only consists of static files on servers, a bunch of emails and the rented brains of the current employees, it isn’t much more than a name with a reputation, a building and a fancy coffee machine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

McKinsey on innovative management

The McKinsey Quarterly just released an interview with Gary Hamel, author of The Future of Management (see previous post), and Lowell Bryan, author of Mobilizing Minds: Creating Wealth From Talent in the 21st Century Organization, on the future of management. Here's part of the abstract summary:
The authors discuss how traditional management models do not enable businesses to adequately respond to today’s competitive forces. In a new environment that places a premium on collaboration and talent, they view old organizational structures as impediments to innovation and creative strategy
It is well worth registering to read the whole thing, but here are a few excerpts which caught my eye and seem particularly relevant to OpenTeams and The Entrepreneurial Organization:

The Internet is making it possible to amplify and aggregate human capabilities in ways never before possible. But most CEOs don’t yet understand how dramatically these developments will change the way companies organize, lead, allocate resources, plan, hire, and motivate—in other words, how new technology will change the work of managing. Throughout history, technological innovation has always preceded organizational and management innovation.


I think the technological revolution that occurred in the past 15 years was basically equivalent to the industrial revolution—a fundamental discontinuity. And just as technologies have S curves, the technology of management also has an S curve.


The availability of powerful new tools for coordinating human effort will profoundly change the work of management over the next few years.


Highly talented people don’t need, and are unlikely to put up with, an overtly hierarchical management model. Increasingly, the work of management won’t be done by managers. It will be pushed out to the periphery. It will be embedded in systems. I think we’re on the verge of what I would call a postmanagerial society. The idea that you mobilize human labor through a hierarchy of overseers and bureaucrats and administrators is going to look extraordinarily antiquated a decade or two from now.


The outlines of the 21st-century management model are already clear. Decision-making will be more peer based; the tools of creativity will be widely distributed in organizations. Ideas will compete on an equal footing. Strategies will be built from the bottom up. Power will be a function of competence rather than of position.


I don’t think you shuffle your way from one S curve to the other. You have to jump. Frederick Taylor often talked about the need for a mental revolution when he was trying to move organizations from the craft-based model to the factory model. Today we need a new mental revolution.


Assuming you’re well managed, the direction that most companies need to go in is improving how they enable their people to collaborate with one another at much lower cost by dramatically reducing unproductive search and coordination costs. And that means deploying such devices as talent marketplaces, knowledge marketplaces, and formal networks to make intangible assets flow throughout the company, as opposed to going up and down vertical chains of command.


Ideas are being monetized in ways never before possible, and the world is a richer place. I’m not just talking about creating financial wealth; I’m talking about a much more stimulating work environment, with more interesting jobs for employees to create more valuable products and services for the world’s consumers. It is just an incredibly exciting time to be alive.

Hear, hear!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Future of Management

Gary Hamel, of "Competing for the Future" and "Leading the Revolution" fame, has a new book coming out in October titled "The Future of Management". I found out about it from a Wall Street Journal article where he holds up Google as one of the top examples:

In "The Future of Management," a book due to be published this autumn, Mr. Hamel argues that Google's innovations go beyond the fine points of search-engine algorithms -- extending into big, enduring aspects of general management. The Mountain View, Calif., company is packed with intriguing, distinctive ways of running itself, he says. These include radical decentralization; small, self-managing teams; a just-try-it approach to rolling out new products before they are fully finished; and a willingness to let engineers spend sizable chunks of time on offbeat projects.

Put it together, Mr. Hamel contends, and Google is committed to building a company that can evolve as fast as the Web. That is crucial in today's turbulent business climate. Old ways stop working. Powerful new rivals pop up in the most unexpected places. Many well-established companies, even renowned ones, thrash helplessly as traditional strategies lose their potency.

Reading book excerpts, as well as watching some of his videos here, here, and here, I was deeply inspired, and am really looking forward to the book. There are many similarities to the concepts we espouse in The Entrepreneurial Organization, as well as with the Enterprise 2.0 movement, which is discovering the management changes as a side effect of the new Web 2.0 technologies inside the enterprise.

Just like the first wave of client-server and ERP computing helped enable the business process re-engineering movement of the '90s, it's looking more and more like new social software tools will spark another revolution in the management of organizations - and OpenTeams wants to lead the way along with Dr. Hamel, Google, and others.

Update: Another great excerpt of the book in Fortune.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

BarCamp reactions to OpenTeams

Some nice excerpts from Houston Chronicle technology journalist Dwight Silverman's blog, where he posted his Twitter feed from BarCamp Houston.

dsilverman OpenTeams seems to make wikis much friendlier, more usable. I've always found wikis klunky to use; this is much more intutitive.

deneyterrio Agrees with dsilverman. Openteams is more robust than basecamp

dsilverman The OpenTeams app looks a lot like the 3-vertical-pane layout in Outlook 2003/2007. Biz types will get that a lot faster than wiki interface

Always nice to hear some affirmation...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

OpenTeams delegation at BarCamp Houston

Great event and our presentation was very well received. Lots of good questions and positive feedback during and afterward. I didn't know what to expect going in, and was very pleasantly surprised. Thanks everybody!

Here's the Flickr slideshow with Alex, Tim, and I at BarCamp.

Startup Houston blog covers OpenTeams

Josh and I had a long conversation at Starbucks. Good stuff.
...a pretty slick tool that is like a wiki on steroids.

What I find refreshing about OpenTeams is their focus on the enterprise market. So much of the social media revolution has been consumer oriented and advertising based.

Often, the only companies that benefit from deployment of collaboration tools are large corporations with impressive IT budgets that provide for streamlining innovation processes. OpenTeams has a tool that is affordable and ready to deploy within minutes.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The wiki workplace: How web 2.0 changes everything

Yes, this slideshow presentation is being sponsored by one of our competitors, SocialText, but it's still a good overview of how web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis will change how organizations work. Jump to the 49 minute mark for the good stuff, which ends at around minute 25, for a total of 24 minutes. Also a nice list of wiki benefits on a slide at the 22 minute mark. Thanks to Michael Stephen Ruiz for the pointer.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Invites using your email address book, plus international payments

We just rolled out a new feature and an improvement to OpenTeams. The new feature may sound small, but eliminates a major hassle. Previously, to invite others to a space, you had to add their emails to a web form. If you're like me, you don't know email addresses - you rely on your email program's address book to keep up with those. That means you're looking at some tedious copy-and-pasting to use a web form, a task that gets particularly onerous as the number of invitees increases.

We now let you invite others to a space using your personal email address book. We do this by sending you an email, then you forward it to the other invitees while CC'ing it back to us. We strip out the names and emails from the To field and add them as authorized users on the space. We've also included several security measures: the emails contain a security token that expires in 24 hours (you have that long to forward it and cc us - the invitees can take as long as they like to join), they can only be forwarded once (and then the token expires), and when we receive it back, we instantly send you a confirmation email with the list of invitees that have been added to the space.

Just like web-form invites, you can invite people whether or not they have OpenTeams accounts. If they already have an account, they simply get notified and the space gets added to their list. If they don't have an account, we'll send them an email to create an account, and then they will automatically have access to the space once they validate on their email address.

In addition to this new feature, we also upgraded our payments processing to handle credit cards from around the world, rather than just the USA. We've gotten a lot of interest from places like Canada, France, and Brazil (among many others), so obviously this is an important improvement.

So if you've been trying out OpenTeams, but haven't yet invited others to a space, or, well, paid us (for your own account or to sponsor others) - now's your chance! And don't forget our "double your money" 2-for-1 sale celebrating our launch, which we will probably end in the near future - so grab the free money while you can!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Solution Watch in-depth review of OpenTeams

This is probably the most in-depth review of OpenTeams' functionality to-date, with some good screenshots. It's nice to see briefing outlines get some specific recognition. They're a powerful, but often overlooked, feature of OpenTeams.

"Reinventing the Wiki with OpenTeams"

Friday, June 22, 2007

Great success at Enterprise 2.0 Collaborative Technologies Conference

Tim and I just got back from several days in Boston as exhibitors at the Enterprise 2.0 Collaborative Technologies conference. I'm very happy to say it was a roaring success. We got lots of interest and positive feedback from analysts, media, and potential customers. The conference sessions also reinforced all sorts of themes we built OpenTeams around: increasing employee engagement, centering software around people rather than technology, the power of emergence, the importance of innovation, current problems with wikis, and applying open source principles to organizations. It was very nice to feel validated.

Here are some highlights:
  • David Berlind and Matt Conner from CNET/ZDNet spent some time on Tuesday interviewing us. That lead to this short blurb, this post on the pain of Javascript across different browsers, and, best of all, this video and post, where David declares that "OpenTeams takes the icky out of wiki." That's definitely going on the web site. David and Tim did a great interview and demo, and Matt did an excellent job editing together a very engaging video of nearly 8 minutes. I had no idea how difficult it is to put together a mixed video of screenshots and talking heads under difficult lighting until I watched Matt do it.
  • Michael Sampson blogged on OpenTeams on his laptop right from our booth - listening, watching, and typing all simultaneously.
  • We got strongly positive feedback from just about everybody who visited our booth. Tim brought his 24" Dell monitor, which made all the difference in the world running our demo video on a continuous loop. It caught a lot of peoples' attention. The exhibitor pavilion was way too noisy for the audio to work at all, but it was still great for us to point to and explain the app. At various points through the conference, people expressed a desire for more demos and less "slideware" - and I think that video on a big screen helped us break through the noise. They could instantly "get it."
  • In the "very unexpected" category, at one point we were visited by a couple IT people from the US Supreme Court, and they expressed interest in OpenTeams. The idea of constitutional law being debated and shaped on OpenTeams by Supreme Court justices and their clerks makes my head spin. Of course, for security reasons, they're looking for a "behind the firewall" solution, which we'd be more than happy to provide to them. In fact, there was interest from several different people for something like a "Premium Support Enterprise Edition" of OpenTeams, including behind the firewall and integration options. Something we'll definitely be looking into if there's demand.
  • While we were there, a couple more blog posts on OpenTeams popped up: Bonj and Webtribution, titled "Wiki + Outlook = OpenTeams Collaborative Innovation", with some very nice quotes:
"...what I see from OpenTeams (specifically the UI) blows away most of the competion"

"... if you are even considering a Web 2.0 type collaborative office system give OpenTeams a serious look."

All in all, a great - if exhausting - experience. Now to tackle all the post-conference follow-ups...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Information Week declares OpenTeams one of five Enterprise 2.0 startups to watch

Some very exciting pre-conference buzz for us from Information Week!

Five Enterprise 2.0 Startups To Watch
To differentiate their products from companies like Microsoft and IBM, they'll have to do things differently.

Enterprise 2.0 is Web 2.0 technology taken to the corporate world. Just as in the consumer Web, the goals of Enterprise 2.0 technologies are better collaboration, easier information management, and more personalized productivity.

And just as in the consumer Web, from mashups to wikis, startups abound. Next week's Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston (a conference run by InformationWeek parent company CMP Media) will see startups alongside companies like Microsoft and IBM. To differentiate, they'll have to do things differently. Here are five presenting or showing their wares at next week's conference that may meet that challenge.

OpenTeams: OpenTeams claims it has "reinvented" the wiki, and sure enough it's come close with an interface that greets users with a three-pane look and feel reminiscent of Microsoft Outlook. The left-hand pane is a list of topics and colleagues to track, the middle pane lists documents that fall within individual topics or are created by those colleagues, and the right pane shows an individual document. OpenTeams also makes it easier to track changes to the wiki -- something often tough to do without looking at individual page history -- by notifying users of any changes made to a page they've been tracking. Another smartly added feature: integrating related wiki pages into a hierarchical "briefing" or narrative view of an idea or proposal.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

OpenTeams in 100 words

The Enterprise 2.0 Expo (see below) asked us for a 100-word company and product description for their web site and printed materials. It was an interesting exercise trying to boil down our essence into 100 words (a word count we somehow managed to hit exactly), which you may find a helpful shorthand for yourself or trying to explain OpenTeams to others.
OpenTeams is web-hosted collaborative software specifically designed to enable the agile, innovative Entrepreneurial Organization. At the business level, in addition to project collaboration, blogging, and knowledge management, it’s an "innovative initiative development environment" where employees collaboratively seed and mature new ideas for additional revenue, productivity, and cost-savings. At the technical level, it reinvents the wiki with an intuitive 3-pane interface similar to email and newsfeed readers, making it far easier for non-technical users to create, organize, and navigate content while transparently tracking changes. This dramatically shrinks the learning curve and ensures adoption while ramping up productivity, payback, and employee engagement.

OpenTeams attending Enterprise 2.0 Expo in Boston, June 19-21

Just wanted to let everyone know we are a last-minute exhibitor addition to the Enterprise 2.0 Collaborative Technologies Conference in Boston from Tuesday June 19 through the 21st. We'll have a booth (really a "pod") in the Demo Pavilion, which is open parts of Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll be in pod 62, very easy to find right next to the demo theater. If you'll be in Boston, hope you drop by to see us.

Enterprise 2.0 2007

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference helps forward-thinking IT and business professionals understand how technologies such as conferencing, social software, shared workspaces, enterprise search, presence, unified communications and VoIP can give their organizations a competitive advantage. The program addresses new technologies, the infrastructure required to support them, the cultural changes that must accompany them and how to craft a strategy to make it all happen. Enterprise 2.0 2007 will be held June 18 – 21, 2007 in Boston, MA.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Getting beyond email for collaboration

Steve Wylie, GM of the Enterprise 2.0 Expo, had a great column in Information Week last week on the impact of Enterprise Web 2.0 inside organizations, titled "Get Ready for Transparency and Collaboration." There's a lot of good stuff here, and it's a great introduction to the whole Enterprise 2.0 concept. After talking about Dr. McAfee's E2.0 definition and SLATES model, he gets into the weaknesses of email as a collaboration tool:

We have become addicted to e-mail in a sort of love-hate relationship. We check our e-mail obsessively yet dread the ceaseless flow of messages to our in-boxes and, of course, the endless spam. We struggle to find relevant information buried in an e-mail or question whether the right people are copied on a thread. E-mail is a closed communication medium that does a poor job of capturing and sharing knowledge, a key ingredient to success in any business and a key feature of Enterprise 2.0.

Enterprise 2.0 tools offer a chance to break our e-mail addiction and our reliance on other Enterprise 1.0 applications. These tools unlock new value in the form of transparent, contextual communication; ease of access to information; and more effective use of data trapped inside applications, on desktops, or embedded in e-mail attachments. They allow us to capture the knowledge and opinions trapped in the minds of our knowledge workers through simple participation. The early adopters of Enterprise 2.0 tools and concepts are finding them both powerful and liberating.

He then goes on to discuss the culture shift required and the challenges. Adoption can take some coaxing, but the benefits are amazing (see the list on our home page), and most people I've spoken to can't imagine trying to go back to email for collaboration after using a powerful E2.0 tool like OpenTeams.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Next wave of tech-driven productivity = Enterprise 2.0

This is an essay I recently wrote for a local publication on the potential benefits of the Enterprise 2.0 movement, especially to boost U.S. productivity from recently lackluster levels. And, of course, OpenTeams is the perfect tool to drive these sorts of benefits in any organization.


American business is facing a productivity crisis. Last year, U.S. productivity increased an anemic 1.6% – half the 3-4% annual rates of the previous decade, driven by technologies like business process automation and the Internet. Those technologies have reached saturation, and if the next tech wave doesn’t arrive soon, our economic growth and the quality-of-life improvements it affords will suffer.

This crisis is particularly acute in Houston, where the new energy boom has run up against a tight labor market, and talent constraints prevent companies from fully seizing new opportunities. The renewed focus is productivity: how can we get more out of our organization? Especially when it comes to what McKinsey calls “tacit interactions” – complex collaborative problem-solving – the type of work that has traditionally been resistant to productivity-increasing technological process automation like manufacturing and many services.

Almost everyone feels the primary symptom of this failure: email overload. Collaboration is more important than ever, but email is showing its inadequacy to the task, with overflowing inboxes, the spiraling “Cc: CYA” problem, out-of-sync file attachments, and the lack of any organized, up-to-date, persistent, transparent institutional memory or knowledgebase.

The technological answer is slowly migrating over from the consumer side of the Internet, collectively known as “Web 2.0”. If “Web 1.0” was static web sites, “Web 2.0” is all about interactivity and communities: blogs (short, frequent, easy publishing), tags (community-driven categorization of information), social networking (like MySpace, Facebook, or LinkedIn), and wikis (web-sites easily editable by anyone, such as Wikipedia, the rapidly growing global encyclopedia).

The application of these Web 2.0 technologies in businesses has been termed, naturally, “Enterprise 2.0”. Dr. Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business School defines Enterprise 2.0 as “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.” He further clarifies two key words in that definition:
  1. “Platforms are digital environments in which contributions and interactions are globally visible and persistent over time.” (as opposed to email)
  2. “Emergent means that the software is freeform, and that it contains mechanisms to let the patterns and structure inherent in people’s interactions become visible over time.” (like with tags or links; and freeform, as opposed to process-oriented workflow, traditional pre-structured knowledge management software, or narrow project-oriented groupware)
These technologies are just starting to be piloted inside companies, but the impact can be dramatic. Some groups using wikis for collaboration have reported email reductions of one-third, meetings and conference calls cut by half, project cycles accelerated by 25%, and even an overall doubling of group productivity. These results make Enterprise 2.0 a prime candidate for the next great tech-driven productivity boom, finally “cracking the code” on accelerating and improving tacit interactions.

The benefits go beyond productivity, impacting areas like innovation, knowledge management, and telework.

In a globalizing economy of fierce competition, commoditization, and cost pressures, innovation has become the new mantra to stay ahead of China and India. And not just product innovation, but bottom-up innovation in processes, costs, service, quality, speed, sales, supply chains, and even business models. Enterprise 2.0 tools create the perfect incubator environment for ad hoc global teams to collaborate on innovative ideas.

In addition to increasing productivity and fostering innovation, Enterprise 2.0 tools are even reviving the field of knowledge management from a decade of high-profile failure (“Knowledge Management 2.0,” anyone?). The lack of incentives and rapidly stale information hobbled such efforts in the past, but because tools like blogs and wikis are integrated into daily work, they overcome these problems and emerge into the “collective intelligence” knowledgebase companies always knew they wanted, but couldn’t quite achieve.

Finally, Enterprise 2.0 software is a great enabler of telework by our newly virtual workforce, whether on the road “living out of a laptop” or working from home. Today companies like Sun and Agilent report that their virtual workforces are 60% less expensive while being 15% more productive. Some experts believe we are at a “tipping point” in the rise of this phenomena, and 40% of the workforce may work this way by 2012.

Collaboration. Productivity. Innovation. Knowledge management. Telework. The benefits of the Enterprise 2.0 movement are both broad and deep, enabling the flexible, adaptive corporation of the 21st century. Make sure yours doesn’t get left behind.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hinchcliffe on Enterprise 2.0 as a corporate culture catalyst

Dion Hinchcliffe writes and Enterprise 2.0 blog I follow closely, and he recently posted on corporate culture changes driven by Web 2.0 technologies - obviously an exact fit with OpenTeams driving the Entrepreneurial Organization. Some relevant excerpts:
Those of you tracking the Enterprise 2.0 story know the drill, namely that applying Web 2.0 tools and platforms inside organization may or may not — depending on who you are talking to — improve the way we collaborate, run our businesses, and even potentially tap major new veins of previously unexploitable worker productivity. (I have a future post on this)
Clearly the exciting things happening on the Web today from the explosion of user-generated content, ad hoc collaboration in the large, rapid self-service global information discovery via Web search, and collective intelligence stories like Wikipedia are outcomes that many would like to replicate inside our enterprises.
Because they are highly democratic and egalatarian; anyone can deploy these tools, anyone can quickly learn to use and benefit from them, and they can be used to communicate and collaborate openly with anyone else inside (and often outside) the organization, are inherently viral, they literally tear down the barriers that would normally impede their forward movement and adoption inside the organization.

And, anecdotally at least, this seems to be happening. I now routinely collect stories of firms large and small encountering these tools sprouting up within their organization, both via internally installation of these platform to employees just putting their favorite externally hosted Enterprise 2.0 tool subscription on their corporate credit card. In other words, because they appear to so easily cross organizational boundaries, can be adopted so easily, require virtually no training, are highly social, and so on, Enterprise 2.0 apps appear to have their very own "change agent" by their fundamental nature.
But what I really liked most was his graphic, which hits a lot of the concepts and keywords we built OpenTeams around:
(Blogger sometimes fuzzs up the graphics - click it to see a sharper version)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

OpenTeams as a fourth sector "for-benefit" corporation

The New York Times recently had an article exploring a new "fourth sector" of organizations besides the usual business, nonprofit, and government - what they call "for-benefit" corporations that have a nonprofit type of social mission, but are organized as for-profits for flexibility (because nonprofits are tightly regulated in what they can do).

This is the model I've always wanted for OpenTeams, but I didn't know there were so many others trying to do something similar, or that they had such a name/label. I specifically founded OpenTeams because I've seen so much dysfunction in so many organizations, and I felt software was the best way to promote The Entrepreneurial Organization alternative to really liberate peoples' talent and potential. A more traditional route would have been to earn a Ph.D. in business, write a book, and then start a consulting practice - a la Hammer & Champy, Christensen, or Collins fame (Reengineering the Corporation, Innovator's Dilemma, and Good to Great, respectively). I believe web-based software-as-a-service can facilitate more change more quickly than a book and some consulting.

Here are some excerpts from the article that caught my eye:
“I think what people are increasingly looking for, whether in the for-profit or nonprofit sector, is how you harness the vitality and promise of capitalism in a way that’s more fair to everyone,”...

“There’s a big movement out there that is not yet recognized as a movement,” said R. Todd Johnson, a lawyer in San Francisco who is working to create an online wiki to engage in the give and take of information for what he calls “for-benefit
corporations,” another name for fourth-sector activities.

Consumers, employees, managers and — perhaps most important — investors are driving the phenomenon.

“Young M.B.A. students are not satisfied with going to work for a normal corporation because they are passionate to do good in the world and do it in business,” Mr. Johnson said...

Still, whatever participants call it, the fourth sector faces challenges. Current legal and tax structures draw strict lines between for-profits and nonprofits, and fiduciary obligations prevent asset managers from making investments with any aim other than maximizing profit. The social benefits that fourth sector firms seek to unlock are not easily quantified and often take decades, not quarters, to attain.

“You run into fundamental problems in trying to grow good because neither for-profit nor nonprofit is set up to do what new entrepreneurs and others are trying to do — namely, harness the power of private enterprise to create social benefit,” ...

“Companies like us have no conventional road map to follow in building our businesses and thus are greeted with a lot of skepticism,” (check!)
The article goes on to give examples of some organizations, and talks about the many complications, especially financing. It's definitely worth reading the whole thing. But even with the obstacles, it still felt good to find out there are others with similar aspirations to mine.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Customer testimonial

Today's post is a testimonial from one of our private beta testers, Dr. Chris Bronk at Rice University, which just goes to show that OpenTeams is a broadly applicable collaboration tool, not just for corporations or Entrepreneurial Organizations:
Starting a new research program from scratch at Rice University's Baker Institute came with many challenges, but unexpected were the difficulty in finding physical space to house my three student researchers. Fortunately students come equipped with laptops these days, so we agreed to skip office space and work wherever wifi went. With one running Linux, another a Mac and the last a Windows die-hard, this soon led to a document nightmare and email overload.

With hectic schedules and my students' propensity to work at times when most other people are asleep, a collaboration suite was in need. Having held the "collaboration guru" portfolio in my job at the U.S. State Department's Office of eDiplomacy, I thought I had a solution in the bag, but was stymied by each new collaborator's computing preferences and the problem of client installations, licensing and all of the other administrative overhead I loath. I returned to my three rules of collaboration: (1) No client installation/browser only; (2) Minimal learning curve and administrative overhead; and (3) Cheap, i.e. no big upfront investments in servers or software.

Open Teams hit the mark on all three, and most impressively, ran reliably during beta. While the students probably got tired of me repeating "Put it in Open Teams!" I now have all of their work for the semester in one location and can bring new team members aboard able to see from day one where things started and access our team's knowledge repository: versioned, time-stamped and attributed.

Chris Bronk, Ph.D.
Fellow, Technology, Society & Public Policy
Baker Institute | Rice University

Friday, May 11, 2007

Our first review!

There was a spike in traffic to the blog yesterday, and a bunch of new users. A little investigating uncovered a great review of OpenTeams by Mike Gunderloy on the Web Worker Daily blog. A few of my favorite excerpts:
Web Worker Daily - OpenTeams Offers Wikis With Structure

With their tagline of “work doesn’t have to suck” how can you not want to like OpenTeams? This new entrant in the Ajax application space has taken an idea that will already be familiar to most web workers - the now-venerable wiki - and reinvented with a more structured, drag-and-drop user interface.
The traditional wiki makes good sense to the sort of person who is at home with the command line, but I’ve heard the same objections over and over again from people whose main job does not revolve around technology:
  • You want me to edit this markup soup?
  • How do I tell what’s new?
  • How can I find anything in this mess?
OpenTeams addresses these objections by wrapping a GUI around the wiki. Individual wiki pages are still there, but they’re pushed into the right-hand pane of a three-pane user interface, and edited through a rich text interface instead of via a markup language.
For distributed teams that include non-programmers working on projects with a lot of moving parts it looks worth a serious evaluation.
By all means, please read the whole thing, which includes more details about how OpenTeams works, and a nice screenshot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

McKinsey says buy SaaS

Phil Wainewright's blog on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) on ZDNet has a post on McKinsey Consulting's endorsement of SaaS, and I'm partial to their opinion as a McKinsey alum myself (well, that, and the fact that OpenTeams is SaaS). They make some good arguments:
Several of their most compelling arguments come down to simple economics: they say that SaaS has less financial risk for buyers, is cheaper to use and yet just as profitable for vendors.
"… many customers are eager for the shift because they're frustrated by the traditional cycle of buying a software license, paying for a service contract and then having to buy upgrades. Many customers believe they would have more control over the relationship if they simply paid monthly fees that could be switched to another vendor if the first failed to perform."
"Ownership costs are typically less — as much as 30% lower for a typical CRM installation, according to McKinsey & Co analysis."
"Even more important to enterprise customers is that they can expect better service, since developers can’t sell a license and lose interest, but must continue to improve and upgrade the service in order to prevent customers on a monthly subscription from migrating to a competitor."
The biggest remaining concern is security and getting comfortable with corporate data residing outside the firewall. OpenTeams has a pretty straightforward response to this: where do you keep that other precious corporate asset, cash? In a giant safe in your offices? I doubt it. More likely a bank, eh? You trust the bank to know what it's doing when it comes to protecting your money - certainly more than you know (or want to know) about protecting office vaults.

More and more companies are realizing IT data access and security are not their core competencies, as the steady stream of stolen data stories in the media makes all too clear. It's also gotten much more complicated with distributed workforces and partners outside the firewall. Better to leave it to SaaS companies who focus on security as an integral part of everything they do. Just think of us as banks for your data.

An overview vision for the Entrepreneurial Organization

Our launch press release last week contained a high-level vision for the Entrepreneurial Organization. I added a couple permanent links to it in the right-side column, but thought I should go ahead and mention it in an official post. I made it two links to the same thing so people could find it whether they're looking for the launch press release or a description of the vision.

You may have seen a "rated-G" edited version of the press release, which Business Wire required us to substitute so as not to offend any sensitive journalists with the word "sucks". It, unfortunately, lost a lot of its punch in the process. Fortunately, they did allow us to release the original "rated-PG" version on their EON site, where it should permanently reside - and that's the one we're linking to.

Over time on this blog, I expect to try and flesh out more of the details of the Entrepreneurial Organization behind the vision.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Work doesn’t have to suck

That, in a rather blunt nutshell, describes our mission at OpenTeams. Surveys say up to 70% (!) of workers are burned-out and disengaged at work. Most are looking for a new job. How many happy colleagues do you know? I’ll bet a whole lot fewer than the unhappy ones. Something’s wrong with the way we run our organizations. Wasted talent and potential on a staggering scale.

Startups are a noticeable exception though. Almost everybody seems engaged and excited at a startup. Is it possible to bring that innovative and entrepreneurial culture to larger organizations? Google seems to have done it (they have thousands of employees now), but are they a new model or just an odd anomaly?

We believe it can be done, and the right collaborative software can drive that cultural transformation. OpenTeams is an experiment in translating this vision into software that propels real, practical change throughout organizations to be more innovative, entrepreneurial, and empowering for all employees. All the Web/Enterprise 2.0 excitement is an indicator we’re at a “technological tipping point” that could fundamentally revolutionize how people work together.

We do have a starting framework we’re working from - what we academically call The Open Model Entrepreneurial Organization (OMEO), or really just The Entrepreneurial Organization for short. We’ll explore that framework in this blog, as well as discuss tips, lessons learned, and best practices from both our members and our own internal experiences.

We’re looking for a few pioneering leaders to help shape that vision and the software to make it happen – an authentic community that’s as dissatisfied with the status quo as we are (if Dilbert hits a little too close to home, then you qualify). To that end, all OpenTeams users are automatically granted access to the OpenTeams User Community space, where we’re very interested to hear your feedback, experiences, and ideas.

It’ll be quite the adventure. Hope to have you along for the ride.
Warmest regards,
-Tory Gattis
OpenTeams Founder and Social Systems Architect