Innovators: Those who looked at the thing on the left and created the thing on the right.
Any similarity between people in the Silicon valley in Western California and those in the Kullu Valley in the Middle Himalayas seems far fetched. However despite the huge differences in these two sets of humans, there is a deep connection between them. Beyond their ability to take what they find in raw form in nature and convert it into something much more, recent changes in the economic environment have shown cultural similarities between these two sets of people and many others around the world. When the techies in Silicon Valley collaborated by accident or intent to start open source code writing, they were tapping into a much more ancient and universal human drive than they might have imagined. The contribution by programmers around the world to create free code, open for all to use and build on has been a major game changer in the way people perceive society now. It has seriously impacted the way money and economics is run. The incentive for a hacker to contribute open source code is nothing more than the joy of solving a problem and creating an elegant design. If there is anything else to it, it is perhaps recognition by peers. It certainly isn’t direct financial gain. While this seems extremely novel and path breaking in a lot of ways, it isn’t necessarily something alien to humans. In fact it is a culture that has been around for thousands of years. Some tribals in the lower and Middle Himalayas, live by very similar rules and have a very similar driver to push them to their work. Living in communities that are tightly bound with almost no commercial avenues, the opportunities for wealth accumulation are minimal for the tribals (unlike those in silicon valley) however there are innovators, hard working women and men that create newer things. The desire for recognition among their peers when they work a piece of straw into a shoe or a bit of lambs-wool into a glove is worth experiencing first hand. Abandoning other thoughts and motives to just creating and perfecting their handicraft is so clearly evident when you see them getting on with their tasks.
At a get-together for Social Networked business in London yesterday, there was energetic talk on employee motivation and creating networks that share ideas, knowledge and experiences. I think that’s an amazing step in creating communities of workers who revel in the recognition received from their peers as much as showing up to work to collect the pay cheque at the end of the month. This is also where some 20th century industries like banking completely lost the plot. There is almost no joy and peer recognition beyond the pay cheque there. Creating the right incentive structure and tweaking social systems to allow risk taking rather than oscillating between big money and social welfare may be the way to look at the future. It is already engrained in us to work for the joy of creating and to satisfy ourselves at least to a certain degree by the recognition of our peers. Creating networks and ideas sharing platforms is certainly a step in that direction. Irrespective of culture and history, contributing to the tribe and winning their approval has always been a key motivator for all humans.
Work for your tribe :)