I went to a talk at the GSB tonight by radical business thinker Lars Kolind. The main thrust of his talk was this concept of the unboss – someone who motivates a loose network of people around a common purpose that they are passionate about. Or, said another way, someone who leads a movement rather than someone who captains a ship.
He pointed to modern day phenomena like Skype and Wikipedia – small core groupings of committed people who coordinate the efforts of large groups of passionate volunteers / customers. In the case of Skype, it’s customers basically market the product to their friends, and in the case of Wikipedia a group of volunteers who create an encyclopedia that rivals anything that Brittanica ever created.
The thing that really resonated for me was this concept of passion – that in order for a modern day company (movement?) to be successful it must start with a purpose that reflects the passion of its founders, and then it must infect others with that passion.
A friend and I went on to discuss whether you find your passion or whether you create it. We decided that it was a mixture of both. But perhaps we can leave that conversation for another day…