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Stronger at description and raising issues than providing actionable insight
on September 29, 2010
Using the power of each of us to solve problems that challenge all of us is the central premise of Macrowikinomics. Tapscott has always been good at spotting, shaping and branding trends and this book is no exception. However, this book repeats and restates earlier ideas rather then moving forward to the next logical question of how we do this.
I am sorry to provide a less than enthusiastic review, as I am sure others will find this book revolutionary. However, I am reviewing the book as someone who wants to learn how to make the changes that Tapscott and Williams advocate in my company and industry.
The authors do cover different industries and mention emerging companies giving the impression that the book breaks new ground. However, readers familiar with Tapscott's other works will find that this book repeats and restates Wikinomics more than it covers new ground. It is clear that Tapscott and Williams are looking at this issue from the macro economic rather than business perspective. Is there microwikinomics in the wings?
The book's structure reinforces this observation as it starts by revisiting the basics of the Wikinomics and the five principles of networked intelligence: Collaboration, Openess, Sharing, Integrity and Interdependence. The authors next concentrate on discussing the complex challenges and industries under threat. These include: Green energy, Transportation, Education, Health Care, Media and Government.
The middle section repeats the same pattern of describing their issue, the inability of modern approaches to address the issue and examples of companies using wikinomics to address the issue which that authors report are too early to be reshaping the world we live in.
The last part of the book concentrates on the challenges posed by wikinomics. In my opinion these last two chapters are the more valuable parts of the book, particularly for someone who has already read Wikinomics. But these chapters, like the rest of the book, raises more issues than it resolves.
If you are a wikinomics fan, then you will probably buy the book no matter what anyone says. As a reader familiar with Wikinomics I found more examples but little in the ways of new ideas or applications. The examples are interesting but they lack specifics of how you apply wikinomic principles.
This is a four star book, if you are new to Wikinomics. Macrowikinomics has more examples of than the original book. I would suggest reading Chapters 1-4, then the chapters related to your industry and finish with chapters 18 and 19. This should make the book about 150 - 200 pages which is an appropriate length.
This is a three star book for those who enjoyed Wikinomics and wanted to learn more about how leaders are applying these ideas rather than where the ideas could be applied. I had hoped for more than an expanded restatement of the earlier book.
Comprehensive in tackling a diverse set of global issues and industries. The breadth of Tapscott and William's discussion illustrates the broad ability of social media and mass collaboration to change the way the world works.
Company specific examples are interesting and they do illustrate that people are applying these ideas in each of these areas, but the examples are general marketing level descriptions rather than providing actionable advice.
The beginning and the end of the book are quite clear and provide a good overview of the ideas in the book. These include chapters 2, 4, 18 and 19.
The authors have had more than three years since the introduction of Wikinomics to understand how these forces work in companies. Unfortunately there is little of this understanding in the book. It does not discuss how to address significant issues such as assigning responsibility, accountability, management, measurement and rewards. These are issues that people running companies need to face and ones that people studying rather than living the problem can overlook.
The authors are at times strident in their dismissal of current governments, companies, industries and individuals. Throughout the book the authors are clear that they believe that believe that wikinomics is the only way to solve these issues. This may be a good way to energize people around social issues, but it does little to help people apply these ideas to evolve from where they are to where they need to be.
Americans appear to be the primary audience for the book. While Tapscott and Williams mention India and China, their intended audience is people in the U.S. This is surprising given the author's calls for a coordinated global response to economic and environmental issues.
The book is long at over 400 pages; in large part because of the middle chapters follow a similar structure, which makes the book seem repetitive and reinforces the impression that the authors believe that the same solution applies to every situation.
The notion of 'rebooting business and the world' is an interesting premise and an inaccurate description of what the authors intend since rebooting is used most often as a way of solving problems by resetting the system to its original configuration. This is not what the authors intend but it's the analogy they have chosen.