Lessons from when TED Lost Control of Its Crowd:

Today, Harvard Business Review’s (the premier management magazine in the world) magazine for April was released. (Check out the upper corner, because this is fun news to share!)

Nilofer Merchant, Management Thinker, Feature Story of HBR Magazine, April 2013

Nilofer Merchant, Management Thinker, Feature Story of HBR Magazine, April 2013

One of the featured 3,000-word articles is on Leading in the Social Era. It’s entitled, When TED Lost Control of it’s Crowd. In this article, I discuss how “open” does not mean “easy” or “free” and that in the #socialera, you need to get communities working with you, as a key strategic edge. TED did just that, and they are navigating new ground (not easy to do!). I share three practices I see as key to know: “listening loudly,” realigning the community through shared purpose, and being strategic about what part of the organization should be open.

Sarah Green, my very talented editor over at Harvard Business Review worked with me on this piece (along with a big crowd of editors and such) and we are proud of how it came out.  The voice, the story telling, the nuanced lessons were just what we aimed for… and sweated over… because we wanted the idea to shine through. Which is this: Through communities, people create value not because of rank or title or affiliation (or even pay in this case) but because of the way they can create something together. Knowing how to “lead” in that context is something each of us is going to have to learn.

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