This morning I attended The Democratization of Innovation from the JOBS Act to 3D Printing. The magnitude of just how much our economy and the concept of workplace will shift in the coming years crystallized as panel members spoke about topics that ranged from crowdfunding to the democratization of software and 3D printing. It’s not just that the JOBS Act has legitimized crowdfunding. Technological advancements change the way we think about, define, produce, and deliver goods and services.
Technologies have also changed the way we organize work environments. The traditional workplace will fade away, and for good reason. It no longer fits with the realities of a digital economic model. We can create efficiencies in ways that weren’t feasible in the past and draw on the talents of a highly productive, distributed workforce. (Which means the command and control style of management will also eventually be replaced with a collaborative approach.) As with all shifts, this change breeds opportunity for those investors, entrepreneurs, and employees who figure out how to embrace change and thrive in the digital economy.
The panelists’ general sense about crowdfunding seemed cautious at best. There’s no denying that administrative headaches blossom when hundreds of uninformed, unsophisticated investors take interest in your company. The entrepreneur also loses the voice of experience and talent that comes with funding from seasoned angels or venture capitalists. Perhaps the personal touch from a mentor that comes with institutional funding will be the entrepreneurs’ greatest loss. Successful businesses gain support from a larger community, particularly when chemistry and complementary business philosophies come into play.
I wonder what will happen when the ties to these networks weaken? Yet, when you think about it, only a select few get funded. Maybe it’s time for change after all. The Millennials use technology to build and maximize the power of social networks, and perhaps we’ll need to develop a new mentoring paradigm to match.
When you think about the high unemployment/underemployment rates for college graduates, I want to reach out and tell them the old economic model is dying. If you cannot find employment, maybe you should consider creating your own. Sure, not everyone has the qualities to be a successful entrepreneur. But the rules of employment are changing anyway. Corporate America as we and our parents knew it is gone. We are not an industrial society employed by the same company for decades. Many of today’s professionals can work anywhere and are limited only by their vision, their drive, and their discipline to execute. You won’t know until you try. And maybe that’s the most important take away. Trying and failure breed character and build intuition. More on that tomorrow.
The following organizations sponsored The Democratization of Innovation: Avison Young, MicroPact, COOLEY LLP, Arlington Economic Development, George Mason University, FounderCorps and SpeakerBox Communications. Thank you for your generosity.