From the Good Ideas file: Work at WikiSpeed is not work like it used to be

It’s hard for people who work in local governments and nonprofits (or many old-line employers, for that matter) to grasp the incredible changes going on in how more and more people do their work.  Don’t get caught up in the gee-whiz technology mentioned in this article, but look closely at how this work is getting done — who’s doing it, how they’re working together, how it’s managed or controlled.

Hint: it’s kind of not. At least, not the way you might think would be needed.  Here’s a quote, but make sure you read the whole article, which isn’t very long:

Justice’s attitude is all about getting things done and having as much impact on the world as possible. He describes Wikispeed as a “do-tank,” as opposed to a think-tank that comes up with ideas but never sees them through. The real innovation is in the process: the way Wikispeed splits every engineering problem into smaller pieces, putting each task onto a backlog-list. Distant collaborators work independently, choosing tasks to work on, until they’ve met detailed “acceptance criteria.” Then, once they’ve finished, each member files meticulous paperwork, so other participants can copy, and improve, on what they’ve done.

Wikispeed engineers work in small teams and often anonymously. Justice doesn’t know exactly who is doing what until they complete a task. And he says he has no idea how many people are in the whole network (though about 500 are signed up officially). Sometimes, he is surprised to hear that a team in, say, Barcelona has been working on something for months, or when completed components turn up out of the blue. “I only really know when they’ve mailed it to one of our shops, and they’ve posted a YouTube video about it,” he says

Think for a moment how that differs from…pretty much every development or manufacturing process you’ve probably ever encountered.  And then think about how this changes your community’s

Office space needs?

Manufacturing space needs?

Flexible collaboration space needs?

The characteristics of a valuable employee?

The characteristics of your community’s Talent?

What happens to those people and places when one of these initiatives flops (as anything innovative risks doing)?

Extreme Manufacturing quote
From Fast Company

And before you write this off as a Silicon Valley, wild -but-that-will-never-happen-here scenario, notice something: the people working on Wikispeed  projects are coming from all over the world.  The guy who organized it doesn’t even know where they all are.  And he doesn’t really care.  What matters is getting it done.  And with a good computer and, soon, a 3-D printer, you can be part of the team from anywhere.

How does that change what your community needs?

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