Pinot Noir da Nova Zelândia


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Carlos é meu amigo de faculdade no Brasil.

Tomas trabalha como consultor de recursos humanos e, uns 2 anos atrás, me ajudou em um projeto no trabalho. Nunca mais nos falamos, mas na semana passada nós trocamos e-mail (eu tinha convidado todo mundo na minha lista de contatos para visitar um website que eu estava lançando).

Carlos está visitando a California e ia me encontrar para jantar no Sábado, então na sexta-feira, entrou em uma loja para comprar um vinho.

– Olá. Eu preciso de ajuda para escolher uma garrafa de vinho.

– Pois não. Qual é a ocasião? Alguma preferência?

– Eu estou visitando a California e vou encontrar uma amigo amanhã. Tinto.

– Ah… deixa ver… Pinot Noir?

– É pode ser.

– Nova Zelândia? 2007.

– Feito.

Na hora de pagar, o vendedor perguntou.

– Aonde você mora?

– No Brasil, estou aqui a trabalho.

– Ah, interessante. Você é o segundo brasileiro com quem eu me comunico essa semana.

Conheço um brasileiro morando aqui, o Márcio.

Carlos levou um susto. Ele entra em uma loja para comprar uma garrafa de vinho em um país estranho e o vendedor sabe com quem ele vai jantar?

– Márcio? Eu estou comprando o vinho para um jantar com ele amanhã. Quem é te disse que eu conhecia ele?

Tomas levou um susto. Tinha achado a coincidência de falar com dois brasileiros na mesma semana interessante, mas não estava imaginando que as duas pessoas se conheciam.

– Quê? Você é amigo de faculdade dele?

Eles conferiram e era realmente o mesmo Márcio.

Tomas ainda é consultor de recursos humanos. Eu não tinha a menor idéia que ele fazia bico como vendedor em uma loja de vinhos.

Levei um susto, como é que duas pessoas que eu conheci em países, circunstâncias e épocas completamente distintas, sem nenhuma outra conexão, se encontram para escolher o vinho que eu vou tomar no Sábado a noite?

– Adivinha quem me vendeu essa garrafa de vinho?

– Quem?

– Tomas.

– Tomas? Que Tomas?

– O consultor de RH com quem você trabalhou 2 anos atrás.

Então, no sábado experimentei um Pinot Noir da Nova Zelândia, comprado pelo Carlos, meu amigo de faculdade do Brasil em 1988 e vendido pelo Tomas, um consultor com quem trabalhei na California em 2008.

Bebia. E enquanto bebia, pensava: acho que isso dá uma história em Yubliss. Só que ninguém vai acreditar.

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The Long Tail of Knowledge


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The Free/Open Source Software movement has demonstrated that community-based development can generate software that is at least comparable to what is produced by organized and well-paid professional developers in a company. Volunteers of Wikipedia have beaten the army of experts at Encyclopedia Britannica in producing uptodate and comprehensive reference information.

How did it happen? How could “regular people” outperform professional experts?

An even better question: If communities of volunteers can generate such good results, why did we get into creating companies to organize professionals experts to solve complex problems in the first place?

To understand that, let’s look at how knowledge distributes among a population. The picture above shows a Long Tail distribution. It refers to a statistical property of a distribution where the “tail” of a distribution is larger than in its “head”. This concept was made popular by Chris Anderson in a Wired Magazine article that applied it to the retail business.

If we agree that knowledge distributes in a long tail configuration, the group at the head of the curve (the “experts”) accumulates personal knowledge that is much higher than the average individual. But the total knowledge held by the experts is still relatively small compared to the knowledge held by the population.

The written language is suitable for unidirectional transmission of knowledge. Someone spends time studying something, then writes it down.  Others reads it. There is no interaction between the writer and the readers.

Because we have been using primarily books and documents to accumulate knowledge, the voice of the expert became the voice of knowledge. We have built a segmented-knowledge society where each of us is an expert in something (be it tighening a bolt, writing software, doing tax returns, or defining strategy). Collective intelligence does not have channels of expression.

The result is hierarchical organizations with focus on personal acccountability. We can see that in companies today. Management is primarily concerned with decomposing goals into tasks that can then be assigned to specialized professionals. Specialization and segmentation is a less than ideal, but efficient way to cope with the high cost of collaboration.

Collaboration is impossible when the communication medium is the printed word. Noise and cost of collaboration grows exponentially when it happens through rich face-to-face interaction. That is why the world is the way it is. To solve complex problems, we need to segment and specialize.

But if there were technologies that lower the cost of collaboration, there is a point where the long tail of knowledge can be tapped to produce concrete results.

The digital medium, embodied by the Internet is starting to do exactly that. Collaboration is still noisy (have you tried to use Twitter?), but in some domains, the long tail of knowledge is now able to express itself in ways that are competitive. As technology advances and people adapt to it, segmentation will cease to be the most effective way of solving many problems. We call the organization adapted to the digital medium “Click Company“.

Rather than decomposing goals into tasks, leaders will be synthesizing results from interactions.

Businesses in domains of knowledge more intrinsically associated to the communication medium (encyclopedias, newspapers, software development, music, etc) are the first to feel the effects of that transition. But that shift is affecting every other area of knowledge.

How is it going to affect your business?

This article was originally written for and posted at  http://www.theclickcompany.com