Just as things were slowing down for the summer I read the exciting news that John Seely Brown is joining John Hagel as Co-Chairman at the Deloitte and Touche Technology and Strategy Center.
Readers of this blog might remember John Hagel ‘s great book Net Gain which talked about communities in 1997, a full decade before communities on the web really started taking off for various business purposes including customer community, word-of-mouth, new product ideas and co-development of new products. Not to forget that between Hagel’s book and Web 2.0 we had the dot com meltdown and a phase where many seemed to doubt if the Internet was going to go anywhere.
But it is John Seely Brown to whom I owe an intellectual debt. It was during my PhD years in the late nineties that I was groping for theoretical work to ground my thesis on Global B2B innovation in what was a "round" vs today’s "flat" world. It was by chance that I read a reference to some of Seely Brown’s work with Paul Duguid which went on to give me a good foundation to develop my own ideas on collaborative learning and innovation. My own experience in high value packaging machine installations and servicing seemed to parallel the experiences of Julian Orr, an anthropologist at the Zerox center, then headed by Seely Brown. I then went on to write several journal articles which presented my own extensions of collaborative "situated" learning popularized by John Seely Brown and his associates.
I am sure that John Seely Brown and John Hagel will do a great job at the new Center, particularly since they have been thinking of these issues decades ahead of the technology really becoming available. The question is : will Deloitte do a better job than Xerox in "absorbing" and then "executing" these ideas ? I sincerely hope so…..