Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Book Review: Macrowikinomics

Soundview Executive Book Summaries is now featuring a summary of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. The book is a follow-up to their 2006 breakthrough Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (also available at Macrowikinomics is a natural successor to the ideas first explored in Wikinomics. If executives spent even a few moments with the original title, the sequel is a must-read.

Wikinomics studied the way in which the digital world created a culture of mass collaboration. At the time of the first book’s publication, the boundaries of online collaboration were still establishing themselves. In the intervening years, the authors observed that mass collaboration shattered any attempt to classify it as existing solely in the domains of business or technology. As they point out, it’s become a “societal shift,” a cultural revolution that touches every aspect of life in and out of the workplace. Macrowikinomics picks up with this idea. The authors argue that the all-encompassing nature of mass collaboration present the globe with an opportunity to solve long-standing problems and restructure existing institutions.

It’s an interesting idea that the authors explore in each section of Macrowikinomics. They apply their principles in an attempt to breathe life into problem areas such as climate change, education and health care. The argument that many of our troubled institutions are failing due to “command and control” leadership is intriguing, but the authors’ collaboration-based solutions may draw criticism from some readers. While they offer credible evidence to support a theory, such as their belief in regulatory bodies consisting of greater involvement from ordinary citizens, there will be a group of readers that will inevitably ask, “How do you make that happen?”

It’s important for executives to make a distinction between each of the problems examined by Tapscott and Williams. Don’t think of it as an attempt to move one giant stone using the fulcrum the Internet and the lever of the online population. Think of it as an attempt to shift stones of various sizes. Some will move easily while others may require more effort to loosen them from the grip of the ways of the Industrial age. Any executive who reads Macrowikinomics is bound to find valuable food for thought that relates to his or her own company’s issues. The application of those ideas falls on the reader. Having noted that, the authors would be the first to point out that readers have the entire world at their disposal to help them along.

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