Mavericks at Work


mavericks By William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre (2006)

After a long time that I stopped reading, it is refreshing to read such a book again on disruptive technology. I am surprised that back in 2006, there was already a lot of creativity towards many areas to create disruptive technology.

It’s a very informative and insightful book.
Disruptive points of view come in all shapes, sizes and sentiments. Advocacy is about strategic clarity, not the business world’s version of political correctness. It is NOT another “me too” mindset company. CEO Chris Albrecht of HBO said “We have to be more aggressive and take bigger risk than before.” “We’re actively looking for new cliffs to jump off. We’re doing things nobody else will do, because they can’t chase us into those spaces. We didn’t get here by playing the rules of the game. We got here by setting the rules of the game.”
The book even showed up an interesting story of the the former CEO Rob McEwen of Goldcorp Inc. Rob McEwen was running out of ideas of where to mine gold on his 55,000 acre site, but the answer is “where?” It has been more than 5 years since he’d made a gamble to acquire the mine. McEwen and his geologists didn’t know. In the end, he decided to use the internet to post all of its data on the mine – 50 years worth of maps, report and raw geological information – along with software that displayed two dimension and three dimension. It would then invite scientists and engineers from all over the world to download the data, analyze it as they saw fit, and submit drilling plans to Goldcorp, which would convene a panel of judges to evaluate the submissions. The goal would be to help the company find its next 6 million ounces of gold. There would be a reward – prize money of $500,000 to be divided among 25 semifinalists and 3 finalists chosen by the judges.

McEwen was ecstatic. Many of his colleagues were horrified.  How could Goldcorp share its most proprietary data with the outside world? However as word got out to the world, more than 1400 qualified participants downloaded Goldcorp’s treasure trove of data and submit detailed drilling plans. Several years after the completion of the Challenge, Goldcorp was still drilling targets identified by the winners.

More striking was the number of ideas that streamed into Toronto were the diversity and originality of the ideas. Goldcorp got access to fields of research and styles of thinking to which it would never have had access otherwise.

There’s also international coding competitions held, such as those of TopCoder that attracted lots of talented people to compete. Even rich and famous companies need to look beyond their labs for other scientists to do research work. It is pretty obvious that 200 can invent better than one.



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