Global distributed organizations can attract the most talented in the world

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Forbes has a nice story about the history of WordPress and the role the open-source software plays in the for-profit business Automattic. The article at one point says:

Automattic has an idiosyncratic workplace. As a legacy of its open-source roots its 120 employees are spread across 26 countries and six continents. Although most work alone at home, each team–usually made up of five or six people–has a generous budget to travel. “All of the money we save on office space, we blow on travel costs,” Mullenweg laughs. Groups have gathered in Hawaii, Mexico and New Zealand. Once a year everyone meets for a week at an accessible destination with a solid Internet connection. A distributed workforce means Automattic can hire talent from around the world–without having to offer the perks and pay of Google, Facebook and Apple.

This brought a response from Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg:
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Entrepreneurial migration: It’s not brain drain, it’s global network formation

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I was recently interviewed by ABC TV for a segment on Australian entrepreneurs moving overseas. My key message was that we absolutely shouldn’t see this as “brain drain”, but the formation of rich networks that are enormous enablers for the economy and entrepreneurial opportunities in the future. The same messages apply to any country, but Australia represents a great case study.

There has been massive attention in the Australian media lately about entrepreneurs who have moved to Silicon Valley. Among other programs, ABC’s Foreign Correspondent did a one-hour feature called The Revenge of the Nerds featuring the Aussie startup scene in the US, the Sydney Morning Herald has a video series on Digital Dreamers, and a long series of articles with titles like Brain drain: why young entrepreneurs leave home.

Even Bloomberg has weighed in with a segment titled Oz Tech Entrepreneurs Set-Up Shop in Silicon Valley, shown below.


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Prediction: Video-conferencing will help drive increased business travel

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Yesterday I gave the opening keynote at Global Business Travel Association Australia/NZ’s annual conference, on The Future of the Global Economy: The Opportunities.

My keynote focused on the major economic, technological, and social shifts under way and how they impact business travel and how it is managed in organizations.

Clearly a particularly pointed issue in the world of business travel today is the rise of video-conferencing, which many companies in recent years have latched onto as a substitute for travel, largely for cost-saving.
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The Guardian: Why nations need intelligent, differentiated strategies for investing in broadband

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Last week The Guardian asked me to write an article from a futurist’s perspective commenting on the debate on Britain’s internet priorities. They published it under the title For better internet connectivity, we must invest in bandwidth.

Below is the full text of the article. I will write more on this topic later, as it is so critical for nations to take intelligent, differentiated, relevant strategies to broadband investment in order to create prosperous economies and societies.

For better internet connectivity, we must invest in bandwidth

In a digital world, high download speeds are less important than capacity – those who remain offline risk further isolation

Our future will be connected. Humanity is in the process of transitioning into a world in which we can be better understood as a richly connected collective than a set of individuals. Connectivity will drive our prosperity, both economic and social.
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The importance of entrepreneurial organizations: lessons from global comparisons of company age

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Last week I ran a workshop for the global leadership of the growth companies division of a major professional services firm.

The Economist had just run a leader on Europe’s chronic failure to encourage ambitious entrepreneurs, including some interesting data comparing the age of leading European and American companies.

I dug into the original data from think-tank Bruegel in their excellent report The Demographics of Global Corporate Champions to create the following chart. It shows when companies in the FT500 (as of 31 December 2007) were founded, shown by geographic region.


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Global insights into fear of failure, entrepreneurial activity, and gender balance in entrepreneurs

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As part of my work in helping global professional services firms build strategies for entrepreneurial markets, I’ve been spending some time with the trove of data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, which is the largest study of entrepreneurship around the world.

One of the interesting issues I have been looking at is how varying fear of failure impacts entrepreneurial activity, as shown in the table below.


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Why Australians unfairly pay more for software and digital entertainment

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Australia’s Department of Broadband Communications and Digital Economy has just provided a submission to the government’s Inquiry into IT Pricing.

I was interviewed on ABC24 about the findings, and more generally the reasons why Australians pay more for digital goods. Click on the image to view the video of the interview.


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Sorry Grant Thornton, amorphous fears about IP loss should not trump value creation

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Sorry, Grant Thornton, I think your instinct is very likely wrong.

I saw this advertisement (also in French and Flemish) in Brussels-Midi station when I was recently passing through.

Grant Thornton claims to have an ‘instinct for growth’. For some reason it seems to have an instinct (it appears without any evidence) that expanding into new markets will lead to loss of intellectual property. So the instinct is one for inaction, and in turn no growth.
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Open innovation is now a fundamental capability for nations and regions

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I have just participated via Skype in a BBC Creative Collisions debate in Northern Ireland, centered around how the media landscape is changing, and the implications of the rise of open innovation.

Some of the comments from the locals involved in the debate were that while there is ample talent and innovation in Northern Ireland, there is not the same attitude to collaboration and information sharing that there is for example in Hollywood or Silicon Valley.

I emphasized that while collaboration within Northern Ireland will be critical for competing on a global stage, it will also be essential to be able to draw on global capabilities. The skills of vision, project management, production, and more can be at the summit – or part – of a global distributed team. Small nations and regions in particular must have a mentality, not of lauding their own world-beating talent, but of being able to marshall capabilities across borders.

There are fundamental attitudes that are required to do this well, but also skills and capabilities, embedded into specific organizations and also the broader business ecosystem. Nations and regions that do not excel at open innovation will find challenging times ahead.

The Power of Innovation keynote in Luxembourg

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I recently gave the opening keynote at the Golden-i Awards in Luxembourg. Luxembourg for Business has produced a five minute video about the event, including an interview with me and also the organizers talking about my “very inspiring” keynote. Click on the image below to see the video (start from 1:00).

The video provides some more context to my recent post on How Luxembourg is playing to become a technology hub. It was fascinating to see the energy and innovation in this small country in the heart of Western Europe.