Archive for the 'Innovation' Category

Creating “Commons Domains”

I’ve lately been involved in a discussion thread on “why we need software patents or if we should kill them“. My position is clearly that patents are a value destruction for the entire community. But the problem is that they create a rent for certain actors and it makes it then difficult for political action to act for the common good when financial powers is concentrated in the hands of a few beneficiaries.

While thinking of a way we could come to the desired end without waiting for politicians to realize where the common good is, I’ve just had the idea of “Commons Domains”. A Commons Domain would actually be an ambitious extension of the notion of a patent pool. The idea would be to create an institution to administer a Commons Domain, a Domain where any signing company would consider that all their IP would belong to the pool of companies.

While at first this may appeal to companies with no IP, I think there may be a twist so that it becomes a winning machine over the IP oriented rent seekers. In fact, once a company has signed into a Commons Domain, and when it is facing with the prospect of patenting a new idea, it could:
1 – patent the idea and try to make money on the companies that did not sign in the Domain
2 – put the idea in the Public Domain for the good of the entire community
3 – propose the idea to the Domain’s institution who could choose to patent the idea or not

The interesting aspect is that there is an accelerating effect. Once you start having a few valuable patents within the Domain, the interest for other companies to adhere and bring potentially more IP within the Domain grows.

I would be interested by your reactions and why not, see how we could rapidly create the first Commons Domain.

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BarCampBank as an open incubator for breakthroughs

There is a recurring question about BarCampBanks and what you get there beyond meeting great people, exchanging business cards with them and feeling the dopamine running through your veins hearing what they have to say. If that’s not enough for you, I’d say that in my view there is even more: a powerful accelerator of ideas maturation and pre-innovation incubation.

I’ve been doing the pitch on a couple of occasions and I thought it may be good to write this on paper because it may sound counter-intuitive to some: it’s by sharing your ideas that you get a better chance of implementing them.

First point of the pitch is that “an idea has not value in itself”. I don’t want to run into the debate that it often starts, but just bear with me and take for granted that if you do not implement the idea, you’ll never see any value come out of it; and that for the community, it’s better that an idea is implemented by a good executioner than put in practice by a less able orginator who would have supposedly conceived the breakthrough out of the blue.

Second point is that if you try explaining your idea, you just realize that usually everything does not come out so oderly that you thought it was structured in your head. That people have sometimes intelligent counter-points that you did not think off; and that finally it helped you refine your understanding, opened new horizons and all-in-all accelarated your thinking process.

Third point is that thanks to the BarCamp format and its emergent approach to subject selection, you end up speaking with people who have at the same time very similar interests than those you’re just pursuing, and slightly different as well. Confronting your ideas with them help you understanding in what sense what you think is definitely unique, but also at time how complementary it is to the others’ points.

Finally, I point to the image of conceiving discussions at a BarCampBank like a way for everyone to bring their own pieces of the puzzle, of putting them on a table, of trying for a couple of hours to compare and trying to adjust them together. Then letting everyone go back with a still incomplete picture, but certainly slightly larger and more focused than everyone had when entering the room.

So what’s the deal? For me it is because execution is the real test that you should not spend unnecessary energy in producing ideas on your own. It is much better to speed up the process of idea creation by contributing to a common pool, then let the best implementers bring the result to reality.

There is also the question of knowing if this does not entice a free-ridder attitude: just listen to others’ ideas without giving yours. While everyone is perfectly free to adopt this behavior, I’d say that there are probably those that will get the least out of the deal. I have rarely seen people understanding perfectly what the others say without asking questions, plus I also think that you get the best explanations when you really give the context of your question and you let the train of thoughts run full speed.

Then there is the finaly question if this mechanism is equally interesting for big organizations and entrepreneurs, and if one side should not be wary of having the other one stealing their ideas. And here, people often think of entrepreneurs seeing their great ideas stolen by big organizations. My answer to this is first from the macro level on one-side: if an idea has every chance of better be implemented by a big organization, the community should spare the cost of seeing an entrepreneur duplicate capacities to just do what the big organization could provide at once; plus, if this is really the case, it is more than probable that the above entrepreneur will get squashed by the big organization when it realize that he/she has discovered a lucrative market. Then my answer is on the micro-level on the other side: there are ideas that can better be implemented by big organizations, then there are those that cannot – these are innovations called disruptive because they cannot be carried by current organization the way are operating.

So anyone, from a startup or a big organization, should find interest in participating in a BarCampBank if they are attracted by innovation and the creation of new business models in the world of banking and finance. I hope that I made my point in explaining why in my view the more they bring to it, the more they’ll get out of it.

Would your organization accomodate an outer-space organigram zap?

James Gardner has just been putting in his latest post the case for an increased ability by organizations to nurture disruptive innovations. I’m not sure I share James’ optimism, furthermore I don’t think that a renewed agile strategic process will do any difference in that regard.

This made me think of an intellectual experiment. What if we witnessed the appearance of alien ships equipped with a new arm aimed at our business organization? In the vein of a neutron bomb – that leaves intact the building but destroy any life forms within it – this weapon would be more lenient and able to keep the occupants, their brains and skills intact- to the exception of any recall of what was the former organigram and the functions attached to anyone.

My first question would be: what do you think would be the instant drop in capitalization of your company on the market place after such an attack? My second question would be: do you think it will ever be able to recover?

With that in mind, I believe that the market has shown an amazing capacity at creating this sort of organizational value by quickly assembling different skills readily available to build on an innovation. I see an extreme difficulty in reshaping most organizations beyond acceptable adjustments.

We can take the Google and Microsoft example as a yardstick. I think that , if we were to investigate the composition of the two employees population, we should find statiscally a very comparable pool of talents, age distribution and so one. Nevertheless, I think that Microsoft’s pecking order makes excessively unlikely that they will ever be able to compete with Google on their turf.

If you are still sceptical in the leeway that the market has and that organizations have not: Can you imagine an organization accepting to replace most of their 50-something senior management staff by 30-something guys? This is what the market is putting ex nihilo in place regularly. Whenever a 40-something has acceded by chance to the upper position of a venerable organization, he/she has never tried to rejunevate the executive populations and usually stay on the chair for the next 20 years aggravating the excutive age problem all along.

BarCampBank London was great!

Last Saturday happened the first BarCampBank London. I shared earlier my excitement of participating to this first English BarCampBank and I must say that I’ve not been disapointed. BCBL was just great!

First we had an interesting mix of participants with

Second, the different workshops were really great and covered diverse subjects like biometrics in fi-services, innovation and regulation, near money, open banking,.. This all showed that the European ecosystem in financial services is currently full of vibrance.

I disclosed earlier the different projects I’m working on. At BCBL, I had the opportunity to expose in more details the piece about FundCamp FinTech. From the reactions to the discussion and because of the general atmosphere during this BarCampBank, I feel that we should definitely move forward. Anyone interested in this intiative, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Join us for BarCampBankLondon on July 5th

This is going to be quite a fastuous Summer for BarCampBank this year with no less than 4 events happening across the globe: BarCampBankDallas, BarCampBankLondon, BarCampBankMadison and BarCampBank Vancouver are the 4 BarCampBanks on firm dates.

I’m personnaly involved in the organization of the only European BarCampBank in this series: BarCampBankLondon. Antony Evans and Thomas Barker have done a wonderful job making this first UK BarCampBank a reality and I’m excited and honored being part of their team. While I wish I could have intended every single BarCampBank on earth, I must admit that being 2 hours away from London makes this most convenient. With the commendable determination of attending every BarCampBanks in the US (and Canada..), Morriss Partee will thus surely hold very soon the record of participation to BarCampBanks. We should all applaude his stamina. I’m nonetheless equally happy that London has now joined the club and offers a valuable opportunity for European fi-startups to gather and show the vibrance of entrepreneurship in this sector.

I hope meeting a lot of you there. Resgistrations happen on http://bcblondon.eventbrite.com/. Thank you for all your help in broadcasting this event and making it an absolute success for innovation in financial services.

 

BarCampBanks all over the USA

Long time, no posts. I have indeed been quite absent from this blog for a while. For my excuse, I have been quite busy working on FundCamp and in particular FundCamp France 2008 (FR). But I have here a particular occasion to come back and post some exciting news: BarCampBanks are going to be organized in San Francisco March 29 and in New England Apr 5; there’s also an event that should be happening in Dallas in June. How exciting!!! I hope that Europe is going to have its lot and that the session in London is going to happen soon, so that my 2008 travel budget does not go through the roof.

Jim Bruene from NetBanker was first to release the news. Jesse Robbins has just posted the announcement on Radar O’Reilly. I’m excited to meet both of them soon on one of these BarCampBanks (full disclosure, I have a firm flight reservation for SFO March 26). I’m also excited to meet all the barcampbankers and fi-startups there. If you can, I think it would be worth coming to any of these events.

FriendsClear is launching

FriendsClear is a new personal finance startup founded by Jean-Christophe Capelli, Nicolas Guillaume and Anthony de Anfrasio. In the new tradition of Web 2.0 startups (think Wesabe’s “Wheaties for your Wallet” for one glorious example, but many others as well), FriendsClear starts its public life under the form of a blog. Jean-Christophe is a good friend and one of the co-founders of BarCampBank. So what makes FriendsClear unique – beyond the tons of experience accumulated in its founding team – is that FriendsClear can be considered as the first startup incubated within BarCampBank borne to life. I wish all the success it deserves to FriendsClear and hope that this single child status will soon disappear with the arrival of many other siblings.