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:
- What the Entrepreneurial Organization is, its benefits, and how it works
- How it specifically works within the OpenTeams organization
- How OpenTeams collaborative software supports it
FAQ Table of Contents
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.
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
- From rigid org charts to fluid operations models and project teams
- From employees as cogs in a machine, offshored to the lowest bidder, to creative, empowered team members
- From narrow, constraining job descriptions to a dynamic, tradable portfolio of operational, project, and leadership roles that tap people's full potential
- From static, stressful jobs to an ever-changing mix of roles to maintain optimal productive Flow in the zone between bored and burned-out
- From tension-filled (and often abusive) boss-subordinate relationships to an array of internal clients for my services
- From reactive top-down assignments to proactive bottom-up initiatives by self-organizing teams
- From supervisors controlling departments to internal venture capitalists sponsoring projects
- From rigid budgets to flexible, investable pools of capital
- From resource allocation via political games to internal free markets
- From siloed and opaque to open and transparent organizations
- From power based on position to power based on respect, trust, and expertise
- And one extra secondary goal we'd like to enable with the EO and OpenTeams: from long daily commutes to more flexible and environmentally-friendly telework
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.
- First, you may not be "hired" in the traditional sense, but simply pass a check to confirm that you have no conflicts-of-interest (like working for a competitor). That let's you into the internal trusted community of potential contributors.
- Typically, you will not have a flat salary. But this means you also don't have a boss or supervisor, or have to worry about sick or vacation days. You have complete freedom and control over your time. Instead of bosses, you will have multiple internal clients for your services.
- Instead of a job, your goal is to build up a portfolio of compensated roles inside the company. Some roles might be operational - providing a regular service or process - while others may be project-based.
- You may pitch projects or roles directly to "internal venture capitalists" to find funding, or join existing approved project teams or fill previously-approved operational roles.
- Compensation is generally tied to the market value of the role, not the person, so you may have a mix of roles with different compensation levels for each. This also serves as an incentive for additional self-directed training and education to enable higher-value, higher-compensation roles, while trading off lower-value roles to those seeking them (a low-value, low-challenge role for you may be seen as a high-value, high-challenge role for someone at a different stage of their career).
- You control your portfolio of roles, and are expected to constantly rebalance it to stay challenged, engaged, and productive. Roles that are boring or a bad match should be traded off to others who may find them more engaging or a better match with their personality and/or skills.
- You should maintain a profile page with your resume, portfolio of current and former roles (and their responsibilities), and services/capabilities/skills that you offer. This makes it easier for others to find and recruit you for exciting new roles.
- Over time, as trust is built up in the community, you may be granted the role of internal venture capitalist (IVC) and be given a budget to invest in projects you think will add value to the company. IVCs are judged on the value-added returns from those investments.
- The scientific method should be a core part of thinking by all employees in the EO: come up with a hypothesis about how things could be done better, and then test those hypotheses with experiments.
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:
- How internal venture capitalists (IVCs) evaluate projects for funding and then manage them
- Success evaluation and audit of projects and IVCs
- Balance of long vs. short-term IVC investments
- How self-organized project teams choose to handle their own internal management, accountability, and coordination
- Risk measurement and management
- Change management controls
- Conflict resolution
- How IVC funds get allocated
- Incentive compensation structures (cash and equity)
- Compensation by the hour, day, week, month, or specific project
- Internal conflict-of-interest safeguards
- The best way to transition roles from one employee to another
- Notifications to affected parties of new projects and their possible impact
- Confidentiality, security, trade secret protection
- What parts of the organization can be fully transparent vs. more controlled access (like role compensation, for example) - although we definitely have a strong bias for transparency
OpenTeams absolutely believes in and supports the open source movement, but isn't choosing that path for a few reasons:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
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.
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.
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.