Nilofer Merchant jumped into a recent email thread I was on about network effects and collaboration with some of her own perspective. Her points reminded me a lot of our approach to coworking, and why I think Indy Hall’s approach has resulted in something a bit more special than simply being a room full of people.
At the micro level, the individual has to believe they have agency and power enough to create and contribute. That power cannot just come from a title or status within the ranks because that is then power assigned by the outside. By having internal sense of power and creativity to believe what they believe, they are most likely able to contribute to problem solving / creativity / collaboration.
At the macro level, what allows groups to work is the set of rewards associated with stepping outside ones “known” domain (i.e. how things have always been done, protecting the past rather than inventing the future), to create in a shared space — the commons. If the rewards of the system reinforce the creation in the commons, then people take more risks, allowing cross-discipline pollination, shows up in a state of flow, and thus create something better together (rather than in spite of each other). That inherently gets marked as “trust” but trust can be manifest through intentional design and the reward system.
What I think is particularly neat is that both of these approaches are independently valuable, but it seems that when you combine them, a multiplier effect is applied.
This is a fundamentally different approach to accelerators and incubators. In fact, I think that this approach is a part of what differentiates what we do from accelerators & incubators, as well as shared offices and startup collectives. Those models are a bit more like what another person on that list, Shel Kimen referred to as:
“the ‘least common denominator’ equalizing, trying to bring everyone to the same speed — some have to work harder and some have to ease up. it’s prescriptive roles”
I think that incubators, accelerators, and other business & startup spaces could learn a lot from this important distinction in approach and focus.
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