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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon September 23, 2010
The key idea in this book is that we are changing from owning piles of products (and services) to sharing them and using them only when needed. Out here in San Francisco, where many folks use public transportation for commuting and shopping, few need to own a car. So, there's ZipCar, where you can "own" a car for a few days a month, on a "as needed basis". The author also uses Netflix as an example- but of course we have been renting videos and DVD's for quite some time before that company- there's rarely a need to keep an extensive and expensive video library at home.

As the author says "The Mesh difference is that with GPS-enabled mobile web devices and social networks, physical goods are now easily located in space and time. It has become very convenient to find a ride back from your meeting with someone heading to your neighborhood, or get a great deal for drinks close by, or locate an available home in a home exchange while traveling, or discover a new "popup gallery" near the dinner you're attending."

Other examples of course include the classic "timeshare"- condos. In fact I just stayed at one during a rather nice trip to Disneyworld. It was lovely and worked perfectly for us.

Gansky argues against the modern American "throwaway culture" and shows us that "The Mesh" will bring in more products that are "Durable, flexible, reparable and sustainable." " "When stuff became cheap, and then credit became cheap, we filled our lives with stuff - not the things we really care about. "

This is a fascinating concept and very cutting edge. What I found interesting is that it really sounds so obvious once the author points it out, and I agree we are headed that way more and more.

The book also contains more than 50 pages of "Mesh" businesses and references, and even more at the book's/author webpage.

This is Lisa's first book, she was the founder of several internet companies and is a well known entrepreneur.
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on February 28, 2011
I should feel bad saying negative things about this book considering I got it for free from a Seth Godin pre-order, but...

Gansky obviously knows a thing or two about starting businesses. No question. She has done it before and she'll do it again no doubt. The thing is, her big idea doesn't go quite as far as she wants it to, or as she wants you to think it will. The big idea: if you can find a way to monetize having people share, you'll be able to open new business opportunities. She's got some insights: the idea of a baby clothes exchange definitely shows that sharing-based models aren't just limited to big-ticket items. But she overextends by suggesting that any type of business will be able to work this way. I would imagine that if you live in rural North Dakota on a farm, you can't exactly share your harvester in a Zipcar kind of network. You need it at exactly the same time as your neighbors. And I don't care how many shirt-sharing services you can think of, there's just no way I'm sharing shoes or underwear, and I'm sure I'm not alone. I am always more impressed when a book acknowledges the limits of its hypotheses. If you read this book, there's no reason everything can't work with sharing. If you think about the world, you know that can't be true.

There's also something so very "farmer's market" about starting a web-based business based upon sharing. There's nothing new about sharing. Rural communities have done it for years. I made the harvester/Zipcar example for a reason: rural communities have *always* shared big-ticket items and purchses. They've just never made it a business. Barn raising, crop harvesting, etc. aren't at all new and noteworthy and Gansky doesn't talk about them. Why not? My theory: because they don't send the right semiotic. There's nothing hip about them, because urban hipsters don't raise barns or harvest crops. Extended families have shared clothing for hundreds of years but there's two differences between that and what Gansky praises: (1) these people all know each other so there's no need for the Internet to help put them together, and (2) no one charges anyone any money, so there's nothing new-economy about it.

I'll also acknowledge that I may be wrong. For example, Best Buy has just started (as of this review date: February 2011) a program where you can agree that when you buy your electronics, you can bring them back when you're done and get trade-in. But I see this as more of a vendor lock-in, less of a true sharing service (they haven't started a service to allow you to buy the used products when they come back, for example). If they go that extra mile, that starts to parallel the hope Gansky has here about Walmart starting a sharing-based business. Time will tell.

But at the end of the day, I look at this book as being an interesting but flawed hypothesis. More limited in scope, it would have stood up to investigation. But because it overreaches, it falls.
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on September 23, 2010
In this painstakingly researched fun to read book (how often do those two go together) Gansky has outlined a trend that's been around but often overlooked. The internet has turbocharged our ability to share. It's created a platform for business models based on community use of expensive objects and services.

It'll take an hour to get her point, and then you'll see it over and over, everywhere you look.

Wow.
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on September 23, 2010
Using clear, concise examples, Gansky defines a new space for entrepreneurs. Not only did I want to go out and join Zip car or help small business owners with a loan, I wanted to implement the same techniques that are making these companies successful. Gansky sets a terrific agenda for the post-consumer age.
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on September 23, 2010
This book helps to reflect how a world that is transitioning to bringing physical and digital goods to markets in more
economical and environmentally conscious ways. This is the grid and will become a driver of future economic values. It is a must
read if you want to survive the digital transition that we are living through. It will impact every business and every individual.
If you want to stake out your role and figure out the eco system that you contribute to. I am recommending this to all my
associates.
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A Mesh enterprise (as opposed to a Mesh company) consists of everyone directly or indirectly associated with the design, production, marketing, sales, distribution, and servicing. It relies on advanced web and mobile data networks to obtain or create whatever information is needed (e.g. demographics of consumers, market trends and patterns, as well as the nature, extent, and frequency of usage. Also, it makes effective use of word-of-mouth and social network channels to "get the word out" about offers, news, and recommendations.

According to Lisa Gansky, and contrary to planned obsolescence, Mesh design ensures that whatever is offered to the consumer is durable, flexible, reliable, and (most important of all) sustainable. Moreover, Gansky observes, "a key advantage for Mesh businesses is the use of rich information to personalize products and services. There are several ways to achieve this. Products can be designed to adjust easily to different users, but in a way that is not time-consuming or expensive, and doesn't compromise the product's primary functionality...If a product design is modular, different modules can be added or subtracted from the basic structure."

Throughout her lively narrative, Gansky explains

o What the Mesh business model is...and isn't
o How and why there are unique opportunities "for creating new businesses and renewing old ones, for communities, and for the planet"
o How to take full advantage of these opportunities
o How to "grow" the Mesh ecosystem
o The principles of Mesh design and how to follow them
o How five "disparate vectors make the Mesh particularly viable and rewarding within today's economic and cultural landscape"
o How to adopt and then successfully execute a Mesh strategy
o How to define, refine, and then scale a Mesh business

It is important to keep in mind that, as Gansky carefully explains, "Fundamentally, the Mesh is based on network-enabled sharing - on access rather than ownership. The central strategy is, in effect, to `sell' the same product multiple times. Multiple sales multiply profits, and customer contact. Multiple contacts multiply opportunity - for additional sales, for strengthening a brand, for improving a competitive service, and for deepening and extending the relationship with customers. [Also with members of social networks.] Using sophisticated information systems, the Mesh also deploys physical assets more efficiently."

I agree with Lisa Gansky that the Mesh business model is not for everyone. Those who read this book with appropriate care will receive valuable advice from her in order to make that determination. It is also important to keep in mind that the process of adoption, then definition and refinement has only recently begun, as has the emergence of scaling opportunities. My own guess is that we are near the end of the beginning as more business leaders learn more about the Mesh mindset and the principles on which it is based. The future may be uncertain but proceeding toward it is certainly exciting.
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on September 23, 2010
"The Mesh" is the best business book I've ever read, and should be required reading in every business program in the country. "The Mesh" business model is absolutely the future for business entrepreneurs. It's also good for consumers and the environment. As literature, the book is vivid, witty, and highly entertaining -- and grounded in concrete examples that we can all relate to. Kudos to Lisa Gransky and her collaborators for a great idea and a compelling presentation!
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon December 25, 2010
After reading about this book from other influential bloggers, I decided to give it a go... The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing by Lisa Gansky. It's a fact that many of the innovative businesses these days are different that what our parents knew, but what makes them so, and what is this "mesh" that Gansky talks about?

Contents:
Getting to Know the Mesh; The Mesh Advantage; Mesh Design; In with the Mesh; In Mesh We Trust; The Mesh as Ecosystem; Open to the Mesh; Seed Your Own Mesh; The Mesh Directory; Acknowledgments; The Mesh References; Index

In normal businesses or transactions, you buy something and it becomes yours to do with what you want. If I buy a car, it's mine, along with all the costs and maintenance hassles. But the car sits idle 90% of the time. So instead of buying a car, what if you could belong to a group that owned the cars, and you just paid for your use of the vehicle? Enter ZipCar, a mesh service that takes a high-priced item and shares it amongst a number of people who only pay for what they need. These sharing services are becoming more and more common, and people are finding that letting go of ownership as it used to be known is actually very liberating, cost-effective, and ecologically friendly.

Gansky digs into the mindset of mesh businesses, how they operate, and how important transparency and information become in the relationship between business and customer. When executed well, customers start to feel like the business belongs to them (like Netflix, Zipcar, and Groupon). But because of this expectation of transparency, the business has to be very careful not to take that responsibility lightly. Since everyone in a mesh has access to everyone else, a mistake or arrogant attitude can destroy the business as quickly as it was built. It's a fine line the business has to walk, but the rewards can be enormous.

The Mesh is one of those books that anyone who is interested in online business formation and execution should read. It's also excellent for those who wonder what the next big online business will be, and if they could come up with an idea that would fly. Once you start looking at things through a mesh perspective, many of your everyday transactions start to take on a different look and feel, and you may see your opportunity hidden within the mundane parts of life.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed
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on October 10, 2010
In `the mesh' Lisa Gansky shares with us some of the wonderful new realms of opportunity we are entering. These open as an increasing number of people more fully leverage the web, social networking and mobile technologies. The Author shares case histories from many organizations, including some of her own, and their success in the Mesh. Some of these companies I have previously heard about, some I am already associated with, and others were completely new to me. Some of my favorite features of the book are Lisa Gansky's expertise in this subject. She writes like a pro (which she is) yet the book is so very easy to read. Add to this, she has a great sense of humor spread throughout the book.

The Mesh is a new world unfolding for us right now, and like new worlds it can be exciting and even a bit daunting, like walking into Willy Wonka'a Chocolate Factory with the awe and wonder of the fantastic and new (without the freaky Umpa Lumpas).

So what is the Mesh? And why is to so amazing? And why do we have to embrace it?

The Mesh is all about sharing. The Sharing of information through the web, mobile technology like smart phones, and social networking. The Mesh allows for the sharing of products, services and information between groups of people in provocative new ways.

So? What does that mean? Happy you asked! Through her book, Lisa Gansky aptly guides us through a thorough understanding of the Mesh.

Some examples include:

Through the Mesh, people are sharing baby clothes through sites like [...]. Think of the savings of baby clothing being used for the several months they fit, and then swap for a larger size, at a far reduced cost of getting new. And you don't have to store up all those old clothes, but you still have to clean them... This can be done with books too, like through sites like [...], although you only have to dust a book off, not clean it.

Through the Mesh, people can share the spare bedrooms, couches, tools, cars, their knowledge, or whatever. The sky is the limit. The Mesh is allowing the thinking of how business is even performed. For example, a network of private lenders (individuals) review requests for loans and their terms, and bid on them. This is allowing start ups to get loans without engaging banks or other financial institutions. The end of the book has an abbreviated list of Mesh organizations and companies broken down by industry and interest, with a far greater list on her website [...]. Check it out, it is very impressive.

Businesses of all sizes, even individuals can participate in a Mesh network. Additionally entry costs continually reduce as technology improves and while social networks and mobile phones become more powerfully pervasive. The concept provides a myriad of benefits (here is but a few):

-We don't have to buy what we can share (pay for what we use, and then pass along to the next person, and save some money each time).
-We don't have to store, or worse, insure and repair what we don't own (most services carry their own insurance and maintenance capabilities).
-We don't have to study and research everything we are looking to learn when we can reach out to a Mesh of experts who can clue us in by sharing and even teaching us what we need.
-We waste less as we are sharing instead of buying and discarding (this forces increased quality and directly attacks planned obsolescence, not to mention creates less garbage destined for the landfill).
-We have better access as these products and services are all web enabled and often have phone apps tied to GPS, etc., to help access more services (easy to see what is going on, and choose what we want, when we want, how we want).
-The more we use the Mesh, the more the Mesh helps us, it is a learning construct (the better the Mesh organizations understand us, they can better cater to us).

The future of mesh businesses is even more exciting as networks grow and then connect with each other. Imagine a network sharing rooms for travelers links up with a network sharing rental cars or bicycles. And those two networks combine with a network of tour guides and restaurants. Each of these networks gets a piece of the action all the while reducing a traveler's stress and giving them an even better vacation.

Big businesses are now looking into the Mesh seeing how it both saves them money and expands customer offerings, and keeping themselves alive (read about the case of NetFlix and Blockbuster).

This book is also a call to action and I hope you read it and then see about getting into the Mesh.
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VINE VOICEon April 28, 2011
The book discusses the increasingly recurring themes of openness and platform that have been discussed in other books like Open Leadership by Charlene Li and Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson.

The core premise of Mesh businesses is: "When information about goods is shared, the value of those goods increases, for the business, for individuals, and for the community."

The author says that, "fundamentally, the Mesh is based on network-enabled sharing--on access rather than ownership. The central strategy is, in effect, to "sell" the same product multiple times. Multiple sales multiply profits, and customer contact. Multiple contact multiply opportunity--for additional sales, for strengthening a brand, for improving a competitive service, and for deepening and extending the relation with customers."

The book also references a recent study, which concluded that, "a recommendation from a "trusted source" like a friend or family members was fifty times more likely to persuade someone to buy a product or try a new brand. The same study reported that word of mouth is the "primary factor" behind between 20 and 50 percent of purchases, and emphasized the expanded role of information networks in driving this development."

---

WHAT IS THE MESH

The 4 Characteristics of a Mesh Business as listed in the book are:

Sharing a high code, frequently used goods
Advanced Web and Mobile Information Networks
Focus on Physical Goods and Materials
Engage with Customers Through Social Networks
"The Mesh model is based on a series of transactions, on sharing something over and over. Creating a share platform is the first, necessary-but-not-sufficient building block of the Mesh. The second is to create information infrastructure that takes advantage of mobile, Web, and social networks. Then each interaction, and transaction, becomes an opportunity to gather and exchange information with a customer."

The 7 Keys to Building Trust in the Mesh:

Say What You do
Use Trials
Do What You Say
Perpetually Delight Customers
Embrace Social Networks and Go Deep
Value transparency, but protect privacy
Deal with negative publicity and feedback promptly and skillfully
WHY THE MESH

Tomorrow's business leaders recognize that trust in a business's environmental and social practices increasingly drives informed consumers' decisions. Successful Mesh businesses harness information from customers, combine it with data from physical products and social networks, and then use that information to satisfy customers, and their friends, in ways never before dreamed of. Good Mesh businesses are smart about combining more frequent customer contact with enhanced information sources to create and refine superior experiences, partnerships, products, and offers.

MESH COMPANIES HIGHLIGHTS

Zipcar is one of the companies profiled in the book. The author says that, "The robust information platform and focus on building the brand distinguished Zipcar from early car-sharing companies that were merely long on good intentions, many of which failed. In fact, Zipcar is primarily an information business that happens to share cars."

So if you're in the information business, you are a Mesh business whether you realize it or not.

TCHO, a chocolate company in SF, produces "beta editions" of its dark chocolate. "Based on customer feedback and continuous flavor development, new versions of the chocolate emerge as often as every thirty-six hours. Version 1.0 went through 1,026 iterations in a year."

Why did Netflix slaughter Blockbuster? Blockbuster was late in acknowledging customer resentments, and late in understanding the spreading power of social networks to shape brand perception. They created a share platform, but neglected other elements that make Mesh businesses so competitive.

This is an excellent book that could help realign the business perspective on how to succeed in the future. Embracing openness, sharing and focusing on customer satisfaction are some of the key practices that could catapult your business from mediocre to stellar now and in the future.
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