Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Switching Gears

"The main thing about Nupedia[the precursor to Wikipedia] was that it was a failure...Nupedia was a failed model but the one thing it did for us was create a strong community..."

Jimmy Wales, quoted in: Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider

Nupedia was spiderlike -- top down, lots of reviews, command and control. Wikipedia is user driven, decentralized, flexible, etc. Great example of the role of failure in the innovation process. There was not only a paradigm shift to the "wiki" but a legacy of relationships survived from the failed approach to help launch the new. This is also a case of catalytic leadership, ready to switch gears in the middle. Many times the innovatiion process skips to some other innovator or organization because of dedicated commitment to something that won't work.

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