Introduction to the Entrepreneurial Organization and OpenTeams

By Tory Gattis, Founder of OpenTeams

OpenTeams is attempting its own internal radical experiment with the Entrepreneurial Organization by combining something similar to the open source development model with revenue-making software-as-a-service to offer real compensation, both cash and equity, to contributors. And not just for software coding, but for any contributions to making the OpenTeams organization better, including sales, marketing, web site development, customer support, and operations.

This white paper, in the form of frequently-asked questions (FAQ), is intended to cover the following topics:

FAQ Table of Contents

What is OpenTeams?

OpenTeams is web-hosted collaborative software specifically designed to enable the agile, innovative Entrepreneurial Organization. At the business level, in addition to project collaboration, blogging, social networking, community building, collective intelligence, and knowledge management, it's an "innovative initiative development environment" where employees collaboratively seed and mature new ideas for additional revenue, productivity, and cost-savings.

At the technical level, it reinvents the wiki with an intuitive 3-pane interface similar to email and newsfeed readers, making it far easier for non-technical users to create, organize, and navigate content while transparently tracking changes (one reviewer quipped that we "take the 'icky' out of 'wiki' "). This dramatically shrinks the learning curve and ensures adoption while ramping up productivity, payback, and employee engagement.

OpenTeams can add tremendous value to organizations as nothing more than a great collaborative tool, but its greatest potential is as an enabler of the Entrepreneurial Organization.

OK, so what is the Entrepreneurial Organization?

Our 20th-century organizations are no longer adequate for the hypercompetitive global economy of the 21st-century. Bureaucracies that resist change while smothering innovation and initiative. Disengaged employees that oscillate between bored and burned-out. Underutilized and wasted talent on a massive scale. Surveys say up to 70% (!) of workers are burned-out and disengaged at work. This state of affairs is no longer acceptable. Where can we turn for a new model?

The fast-changing technology industry of Silicon Valley was the birthplace of this new high-speed economy. But now almost all industries are facing the same intense pace of change. What are the lessons other industries can learn from the Silicon Valley ecosystem? Adaptive speed. Empowered employees with passion and engagement. Bottom-up innovation in all aspects of the firm - not just product development. The camaraderie and energy of small teams. Challenges that stretch talent to their full potential. It's time to bring this entrepreneurial spirit into organizations in other industries, as well as our government and non-profits.

The Entrepreneurial Organization

Why is it sometimes referred to as The Open Model Entrepreneurial Organization?

Because the core concept is an open model of the company's operations (processes, assets, services, operational roles), which is constantly improved and expanded by swarms of self-organizing entrepreneurial project teams. But the full OMEO name is a bit cumbersome and academic sounding, so we simplified it to just the Entrepreneurial Organization.

How is the Entrepreneurial Organization different from an employee (or contributor) perspective?

What parts of the Entrepreneurial Organization are not yet fully defined?

The Entrepreneurial Organization is in its early stages. We don't want to over-specify and over-constrain things early on. Many areas are being deliberately left open to experimentation, such as:

Why isn't the OpenTeams application open source?

OpenTeams absolutely believes in and supports the open source movement, but isn't choosing that path for a few reasons:

  1. We aspire to be more than just a collaborative tool, but evolve into a social network that helps people reach their true career and talent potential - similar in some ways to MySpace or Facebook. That necessitates a centralized software-as-a-service model.
  2. We want the OpenTeams organization to be a proof-of-concept for the Entrepreneurial Organization - a model that other companies and organizations can learn from and try to emulate. That requires OpenTeams to be a for-profit, revenue-generating corporation that they can relate to.
  3. We believe that OpenTeams has the potential to radically help charitable nonprofits be more effective, so we offer it free to them. To support that free service, we, of course, need paying customers. Yes, it could be "free" to charitable nonprofits as open source, but that's assuming they have the technical expertise and resources to set it up and administer it internally, which is usually not the case with the vast majority of charitable nonprofits.

Of course, combining an open Entrepreneurial Organization with software development is still quite different from a traditional software company, even if not open source. One OpenTeams employee referred to it as "community-driven closed source."

As a potential software developer for OpenTeams, what technologies is it based on?

OpenTeams is a web-hosted, browser-based application built mainly on the LAMP stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (server), and Ajax/Javascript (client). We will consider porting to other rich Internet application (RIA) environments in the future if it makes sense.

How do I apply to be a contributor at OpenTeams?

Email a resume along with a short statement about how you think you might contribute to OpenTeams to . When you're accepted, you'll receive a short legal agreement to approve via email, then you will be given access to the OpenTeams Contributor Community space, where you can explore potential projects and roles. Be sure to let us know the email address on your OpenTeams account so we can invite you into the space using the correct one. Your OpenTeams account will not be charged for using the OCC space.

How will compensation work at OpenTeams?

Once you have received approval for a project or operational role, that role will either have direct contractor compensation (cash, probably via PayPal), or, more likely in the short-term until OpenTeams has higher revenues, revenue billing. When you invoice under revenue billing, your invoice goes into a queue. As revenue above basic expenses becomes available, invoices in the queue will be paid off. We will make this information public inside the contributor community so you know where you stand.

Over time, OpenTeams expects to offer equity to top contributors, although the timing and structure of this is still being worked out, probably by the end of the year.

What if I have money to invest?

The best way to "invest" money in OpenTeams is to pitch a project or service, get it approved (including expected compensation in money and equity), and then use your money to assemble and pay the necessary service providers to implement the project or service.