Guilds as a model for new (un)organizational behaviour

Michele Perras has a great article up on her blog about the emergent signal of tech-and-media-enabled communities and how they do and don’t echo a very old form of organization of professionals guilds.

looking at the innumerable communities that have emerged and exploded, in large part due to what people are doing with web/mobile technology, over the past 15 years or so, it’s apparent that their underlying social and economic structures are guild-like.”

” historically, guilds existed to create and share innovative developments and specific forms of knowledge – such as the practices of goldsmithing or stonemasonry or other recording of ideas into tangible form. guilds primarily relied on the manipulation and transformation of materials into social, cultural, economic, political or military capital, and were key in the emergence of money and credit as goods were produced and exchanged on larger and larger scales, across greater geographic territories and cultures. the ability to utilize a raw material’s transition into a cultural artifact with high economic value was highly prized and, in cases such as the medieval guilds, extremely protected within a particular guild.

access to those communities required commitment and authenticity – and i don’t think mastery was never truly acquired as your learning never really ended -… knowledge, and the skills to implement and innovate upon it, was the most powerful competitive advantage you could have…”

As Michele says “sounds familiar?”

Good stuff! read on… [ the re-emergence of the guild, pt one ]

Implications to Enterprise2.0: To me Michele’s analysis also ties to the memes of ‘Open Innovation‘ and Wikinomics. Critical knowledge (and IP) creation, once key basis for proprietary competitive advantage, is happening as much in the ‘digital guild’ the interstitial spaces in-between as opposed to within the walls of organizations and wholly owned R&D departments.