on May 12th, 2008

Dear Colleagues

According to Wikinomics, many very successful products today are being created by teams of thousands of people scattered throughout the world, using their collective wisdom.

‘No company today, no matter how large or how global, can innovate fast enough or big enough by itself.’

This is according to Tapscott who coined the phrase. The beauty of this approach is that it allows us to get an accurate idea of what the market is after and to let it shape the final product. The broad majority of the engineering community are positive and enthusiastic individuals with enormous experience and innovative abilities. The end game, if this expertise is harnessed correctly, is that you will gather so much more useful information that you will leapfrog over any of your competitors and create a truly world class product. Surely this can only benefit you and your product development process – the alternative; the narrower approach of a few developers in-house.

I think recently of the chief engineer of a firm who was developing a really useful software collaboration package. They burnt through $17m over 4 years in developing a product which had no market when it was completed!

So for your next engineering design project or product, Tapscott suggests the following strategy to make your product or service really worldclass:
•       Take cues from lead users. You may be horrified to find that the lead users of your product drive you in a direction that was not originally intended, but with much greater success
•       Build critical mass. Get as many players involved in your project, as quickly as possible, to achieve critical mass.
•       Supply an infrastructure for collaboration.  Co-operate with other players in the industry to help with open standards and administrative frameworks.
•       Make sure participants get value. Ensure that those who contribute get appropriately rewarded in developing the product.
•       Let the process evolve. Keep developing and don’t set hard objectives for the end result. Let the process dictate (often through trial and error) where you end up.
•       Hone your collaborative mind. Try and work for the common good – both for the collaborators and for your customers.

So we invite you to put this to the test..…..

I am sure (if you are like me) many of you wonder about my blogs and the likelihood of me actually practising what I preach. Well, I do try to. Here for instance - we have been working on our web-based, live training and collaboration package for over 2 years now and I am inviting you to participate in the development of this product.

If you are interested we will send you the details of the product for your commentary. And you can join in our weekly engineering forums (at your convenience) to drive the product to a state of usefulness to the engineering community.

What do you get in return for your reasonable level of input? We will give you free use of the package for 6 months or more. Inevitably there will be the doubters who think that this is a thinly veiled sales spiel. Well, this is a valid concern, but all I can say to this is that you will get free use of the software for your own projects and after that there is no obligation to do anything more. And naturally, only you can assess if it is likely to be of benefit to you and whether participation is worth your while.

Subjects include elec. and mech. engineering, data comms etc. Each of these will be presented live over the web, with real instructors who you can interact with. Simultaneously you will be observing part of the product in action

Email Ric, our lead developer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request involvement.

Essentially we are after a product which can be of great use to engineers and technicians who want to collaborate remotely using a variety of tools. These include a whiteboard, video conferencing, remote labs for hands-on testing and training and obviously any other useful features you can think of.

If you can think of ways we can evolve this product in this direction, please let us know.

Hopefully you don’t think along the same lines as John Cage:
‘I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.’

yours in learning


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