Generative Business Practice: Questions from Harvard’s Digital Initiative

by cv harquail on November 25, 2014

I got lots of feedback from the folks who participated in the HBS Digital Initiative seminar where I presented some big picture ideas about generative practices.  

As promised, I’m summarizing what they shared with me on the index cards we used to gather up ideas.

While I was so. glad. that I asked for their comments, I did make one mistake:

I didn’t ask for their permission to share their names along with their questions. I won’t be able, therefor, to give specific people credit for their contributions (although, anyone who wants to can claim and/or extend an idea in the comments section below!).

snug le pup

I added some links so that you can check out things related to each comment, while I’m busy forming actual answers.

Participants Were Excited About Generativity And…:

  • Taking ideas about ‘positive organizational scholarship’ beyond the level of individual behaviors and outcomes, and beyond the interpersonal relationships, to consider how an organization might be positive as a member of its own community/network
  • The opportunity for an organization to be a leader in being generous, and in changing the expectations for how organizations should behave and succeed.
  • Open APIs — “I’m totally with you on the role that these play in triggering innovation, and also on how they are example of generative practice.”

Ideas to Explore/Think About:

Resources to consult:

  • Nice intersection with critique of business-as-usual by UnderCurrent folks

Questions to Address:

  • Is “generative”, by definition, the same as being ‘fully open’? (Alt: Can a business be generative without being fully open?)
  • To what extent does commitment to transparency make organizations less flexible (and perhaps, less able to grow)?
  • What are the boundaries of transparency– is ‘open’ ideal?
  • What’s the role of privacy (especially since private communities online have much higher engagement) in an organization’s willingness to be generative, or in a situation’s generative potential?
  • Do organizations have to be profitable (already) so that they can subsidize generative practices (which might cost them something, at some point)? Can generativity work without subsidies?

You can see from this list that I have lots of thinking to do– and I’m glad to have the feedback from colleagues to help me get a sense of what’s most challenging or interesting to them.  I’m also glad that I have an audio recording of the whole seminar, so that I can go back and listen to the questions & conversation in context. More soon.

Image: Origami, by Snugg LePup 

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