Community Spirit

How businesses are letting web users have their say.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the March 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You probably know that the Linux operating system was created by a worldwide network of programmers who collaborated via the internet. Wikipedia is collectively authored. But did you know that Boeing, BMW and Procter & Gamble have also harnessed the web's collaborative power to design products and services--and that many businesses are doing the same?

These revelations are among many in Wikinomics: How Collaboration Changes Everything, by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. Tapscott, a University of Toronto professor and author of 11 books, including Paradigm Shift and The Digital Economy, examined wikis, blogs, chat rooms, peer-to-peer networks, personal broadcasting and other elements of Web 2.0. He concludes that an enormous change is occurring that challenges fundamental business organization.

Among the many requirements for working in the wiki world are radically modifying your attitude toward your ideas and being open to input from other sources. Do it well, he says, and you may find you have more partners than you dreamed.

Mad Skills
In ram charan's latest book, Know-How, the former Harvard Business School faculty member discusses eight key abilities that distinguish people who can help businesses run better from people who are less skilled. The skills include shaping the way teams work together, being able to analyze trends during periods of big change and positioning a business so it makes money. In addition to telling how to identify people who have these skills, he advises entrepreneurs to pick a couple of skills themselves and develop those until they are competent, then learn the others until they sport a full package of know-how.

Mark Henricks is Entrepreneur's "Staff Smarts" columnist.

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