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Archive for November, 2008

Book review: Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business

My Rating: 7/10

If you have read Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, and The Wisdom of Crowds, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business repeats many of the concepts that were well described in those books.

Crowdsourcing is a good book and provides plenty of background and detailed explanations around some of the well known “crowdsourced” companies such as threadless.com, topcoder.com, istockphoto.com, and a few others.

The basic concepts are as follows:

  • There are 1 billion Internet users with anywhere between 2 to 6 hours to spend per day;
  • There is a large portion of the population that is over-qualified for their day job and as such are looking for ways to use their skills;
  • Combine these facts with a drastic decrease of the cost of technology and increased power of technology and the possibilities are endless;
  • Most importantly ‘amateurs’ can now compete on the same ground as professionals in many fields;
  • As an organization, you cannot control what the crowd will do – the crowd decides what it will work on. The community will work on project of their interest;
  • You should start a crowdsourcing project with the intend to make money BUT you may end up making money as a consequence of collaborating with the crowd.

Overall, we are only seeing the beginning of crowdsourcing.

Book Review: Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

My Rating: 6/10

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior is a disappointing book.

If you want to understand the reasons behind irrational behaviour, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions is a much better choice. The authors of “Sway” preferred storytelling to detailed explanation to explain irrational behaviours. Although their stories are mildly entertaining, they lack the depth and details of Ariely’s book. Unless you are looking for superficial answers to irrational behaviours, I would recommend you invest a few more hours in reading Ariely’s book and get a much better understanding.

Day one in an Agile environment

I officially joined Pyxis Technologies today and I can say the energy level is very high. Pyxis is recognized as a key player in the Agile community having carved a niche in the French speaking markets of Canada and France. Although the company has been in business since 2001, they have fully embraced the Agile approach since 2005. Many of the strongest opinion leaders currently work for Pyxis.

Coming from traditional organizations, a few things immediately strike me on my first day:

  • everybody in the office is smiling;
  • except for the training room and the general manager’s office, the space is completely open [I believe it's the collaborators (this is how Pyxis employees are called) who requested that the GM have a closed office for confidentiality reasons];
  • most people are working at their space in small groups, gathered around their computers to discuss project situations;
  • there are many white boards all over the place;
  • all the furniture and the white boards are on wheels so they can be moved around to accommodate each project team [I'm told the furniture is new and was also requested by the collaborators].

This seems trivial at first but having read about the Agile approach, these seemingly small details are there to support collaboration and team work in order to deliver quality software. I will have to judge for myself over time if indeed their is a correlation between the environment and the results. I can say that the energy level is striking.

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