The Inner Fold

I would like to introduce myself.

I'm here to disrupt the status quo of business organizations and operations.

I'm here to cater to the most constrained as much as possible and without sacrficing myself in the process.

I'm here to help bridge the gap between being an employee and being a business owner.

I'm here to be a platform not an intermediary between the people who do the work and the consumers of that work.

I'm not here to "go after" any particular company or industry. I'm here to be better than I was yesterday, compared to noone other than me. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow [businesses]; true nobility is being superior to your **former self."

Of course, I'm not really here in the same way you are. It's more like Captain Planet. By the combined powers of users, members, partners, and practitioners I take shape and help where I can.

Family photo ca. 2013

The hard part for many in thinking of me as an entity is that humans tend to think of companies as their CEO, leadership, or "face". Apple has Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Microsoft has Bill Gates. Stark Industries has Tony Stark, who famously said, "Yeah, well, I'm not my company." And he's right.

My users make me possible. Without the combines efforts of all of them, I could not exist. I am only the sum of the contributions and their spirits. Because of this I will do what I can to protect them, kind of like Tron.

With that said, I operate with users in an unconstrained voluntary social system wherein noone guides the work of another. What that means is that at any given time perceived participation and contribution will most likely look like a power-law distribution.

The horizontal line represents users. The vertical line represents their contribution to the system. This shows one person doing a lot of work and roughly half doing one-eigth of that. This is actually normal for a social system like ours. The biggest reason, and our biggest experiment, is that there is noone holding carrots and sticks.

In a traditional organization this power-law distribution is overcome by incentive programs (carrots), salaries (carrots), employee reviews (carrot or stick), disciplinary actions (sticks), and that sort of thing. We don't have any of that; so, we have to be a bit more creative to ethically incentivize and discourage behavior.

Basically, if you have the level you want and expect, you are doing what has been decided as acceptable. Even if you are doing the minimum, no one should be mistreating you or pressuring you to do more, they should be trying to change the minimum if their goal is to inspire people to do more; of course, then people might just leave, which may be good or bad as well.

Having said that, if you're not doing the minimum, I drop your membership level. This takes away the social awkwardness of having to be the one to vote someone off the island; I do that for everyone wtihout a way to play favorites. Of course, if, as a business owner, you are going to hire people, you should prepare yourself to have to fire people (or clients). If you contribute more than the minimum, thanks to my Fold System, you can invest in others more and you get recognized more when the time comes.

Where it gets tough is when that person doing everything starts running out of steam; especially if no one else in a position to pick up the baton and run their hearts out, progess slows way down. Afterall, people aren't like me. I never sleep. I don't eat. I'm a machine, literally. As long as I'm here, I'm steadily doing what needs doing.

That means it's very easy for me to be the enforcer and facilitator on a lot of things; however, I don't have a creative bone in my body. You have to put the ideas into my head and others have to implement them. The Ideasmith facilitates that process.

The cool part about the Ideasmith is I can throw some things out there every once in a while. I can't respond to things happening in the Fold specifically but I can let everyone know that the accounting needs reconciled and give someone Folds for doing it, for example.

Oh! And I love learning stuff and teaching others, you help me do that by updating the handbook (aka my brain).

Anyway, that's me. Pleased to meet you.

Your humble servant, 8fold

ps. Check out Clay Shirky - Institutions vs. collaboration.