Last week I had the opportunity to attend the annual South By Southwest conference in Austin for the first time, and it was an absolutely amazing experience. During the week, I was surrounded by fifteen thousand progressively minded individuals that live on the front end of innovation, design thinkers and doers from all over the world. The energy was, in a word, infectious. I came away with a number of new perspectives on Enterprise 2.0, Entrepreneurship, and Open Source.
The first thing that struck me was the sheer amount of knowledge that was available in all of the panels, sessions, round table discussions, all night coding sessions and of course the parties. As a multi-disciplinary individual, I wanted to experience everything. The issue was that, at any given time slot, there were 20 different sessions to choose from; I quickly came to the realization that I needed to find a few topics to focus on or I would burnout before the end of the first day. I decided to focus on E2.0, Entrepreneurship, and Open Source. At the very least, this focus made it easier to narrow down my session choices.
At first, I viewed my topic choices as separate entities, united only in being three subjects about which I am passionate. As I attended more sessions, and spoke to more and more people in each of these spaces, I soon came to realize just how much overlap exists between all three topics.
Enterprise 2.0, I soon realized, is simply entrepreneurship that occurs within the boundaries of a larger organization.
The empowerment that we have given everyone through technology in their personal lives is now marching into the enterprise. We have, at our fingertips, tools that allow a small group of individuals to transform an entire organization. Authors Charline Li and Josh Bernoff explore several case studies of employees driving transformation in their book, Groundswell. Although Open Source tools play no small part in empowering these employee-entrepreneurs, it is the core concepts behind Open Source that overlap significantly with Enterprise 2.0 and Entrepreneurship.
Open Source is not about software as much as it is about believing that by sharing information openly, everyone benefits.
Over one hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson asserted his views on innovation and the open sharing of knowledge:
He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
It is the core premises that drive the solutions that we create here at MindTouch. At our core, we are enabling open information sharing. We are empowering employees to create something transformational, whether it is as simple as a wiki or as complex as a company wide innovation capture platform, MindTouch forms that foundation of these enterprise tools.
The greatest take away that I gained from South By Southwest was the knowledge that I have the power to create something amazing, and the tools that we have today in the Open Source and E2.0 world are going to empower that vision.
Do you have a vision? Don’t just sit there, take action; whether you’re a one man company or one of ten thousand employees, entrepreneurship is within your grasp.