An Architecture of Participation

Marten Mickos | | June 13, 2012

What happens when half of the world's population lives in cities? When over three billion people are online? When there are more than 15 billion connected devices? Old organizational models hit end-of-life. People behave differently. Organizations behave differently. What worked in the old world doesn't work in the new.

Through the ages, people have collaborated around common goals. Joint creation and joint production are not new ideas. It could be argued that the old religious scriptures were crowd-sourced. Most other activity back then was strictly controlled by a ruling leader or harsh environmental conditions. But when people engaged in new and intriguing topics of the time, they worked together. They collaborated.

What is changing now is that participatory models are becoming the rule, not the exception. The world used to be about command and control. Someone told you what to do. There still is a lot of that. But collaborative innovation is taking over. We are coming to a stage in our civilization where regular functions are masterfully automated and industrialized, and our focus as human beings can and will  increasingly be on innovation. In the area of innovation, the most powerful creation happens in teams, groups, and crowds--across organizational boundaries. When we architect for such participation, we can multiply the power of innovation.