Posted on June 16th, 2011 at 1:08 PM by Wan
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My rating for this book review: 5 Stars

Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Portfolio (December 2006)

Why is it worthwhile to read this book?

We’re moving away from a closed, hierarchical structure focused on capital and physical goods. In this old system, you tried to be a good manager while you moved your way up in the hierarchy. The trend now is toward a new kind of open, networked enterprise that is modular. It’s dynamic, flexible and it reaches outside the boundaries of a corporation.

Summary (via Netcast)

The book describes why the new business models for an enterprise require the seven principles of Wikinomics:

1. Peer Pioneers
2. Ideagoras
3. Prosumers
4. The New Alexandrians
5. Open Platforms
6. The Global Plant Floor
7. The Wiki Workplace

What do these seven principles mean to us? Let’s look at them in layman’s terms.

The Peer Pioneers talks about how The Wisdom of Crowds (that means any one of us) can be harnessed to make smarter decisions. Good examples of this are Linux and Spikesource, which is an open-source application. The success of open-source software has encouraged a growing number of “innovation communities” to adopt an open or distributed model. This means more resources can be applied to solve problems. Openness is the key for implementing good strategies in any organisation, like Zopa, which is a website that allows people to lend money to each other eBay style.

Meanwhile, Ideagoras talks about open markets for ideas, and innovations for uniquely qualified minds. It comes from the Greek agora.

Then we have Prosumers (this is one of my favourite principles). It comes from the words “Producers” and “Consumers”. It tells us how we are beginning to be a prosumer society. An example of this would be SecondLife. I became a prosumer when I had my avatar designed in SecondLife. There is also a company called Linden Labs, where 99 percent of its product is built by its consumers. This shows how we turn our customers into producers.

The New Alexandrians is about the sharing of science. There are thousands of these mass collaborations underway today all around the world in the area of science. New collaborative platforms are making it possible to engage very broad communities of public and private entities in large-scale collaborative research and development efforts.

Next we have Open Platforms. All the world’s a stage, and we get to participate using others’ API for free. Everyone likes freemium (Free + Premium). Also, sharing is caring! One great example of this would be Pikspot, which is like YouTube, Digg, and MySpace combined, for instantly creating rich media communities. It’s an open platform, where we can create a community that uses video in three minutes.

The next principle is The Global Plant Floor. It’s not that mass collaboration is a better way of building the most difficult thing we can think of to create; it may be the only way. A great example of this would be Boeing designing a plane. Boeing suppliers co-design airplanes from scratch and deliver complete sub-assemblies to Boeing’s factory, where a single plane can be snapped together like Lego blocks in as little as 3 days. Meanwhile, I was amazed with Tapscott’s findings about a Chinese motorcycle industry that is essentially an open-source motorcycle, making it cheaper for the community.

Finally, the final chapter of Wikinomics is The Wiki Workplace. It discusses the use of Wikis, blogs, collaborative filtering, social networking, RSS feeds, jams, and so on within corporations. Consequently, it is called the definitive guide to the 21st Century Enterprise, for Enterprise 2.0. According to Tapscott and Williams (2006), if we publish a book, we don’t own it because it’s done under a creative commons license. If we create the definitive guide to the 21st century corporation, that’s going to help our organisation somehow because in business we don’t fear theft of Intellectual Property (IP), we fear obscurity.

Still not impressed with Tapscott and Williams’ Wikinomics principles? Well, let’s look at another insightful video explaining how GoldCorp, a gold mining company, with Rob McEwan at the helm as the CEO, adopts these four principles of Wikinomics. They made a great discovery during their search for gold.

(Photo courtesy of Tapscott, 2007, p. 29)

Food for thought

How are we going to find leadership for change? The good news is it can come from anywhere in an organisation. Sure, it’s helpful if the boss is involved, but it can also come from anywhere else. Therefore, leadership can be found on each of our personal journeys if we will it. It looks like Wikinomics will be our road map for doing business in the twenty-first century.

A French poet by the name of Victor Hugo once quoted, “Nothing’s so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” The time has come for the new web, for a new generation for whom this new medium of human communications is their birthright. The time has come for a new model of enterprise and for profound changes in how we innovate, how we create goods and services, and how we, as organisations, engage with the rest of the world. And hopefully the time has come for each of us to find the leader within us to change our organisation and, in doing so, change the world.


Tapscott, D. (2007). Wikinomics: Winning with the Enterprise 2.0. NewParadigm. pp.1-56.

Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2006). Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. New York: Portfolio.

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