Lift11: Dorian Selz, Virtual Organizations [en]

[fr] Notes de la conférence Lift11 à Genève.

Live and India-lagged notes from the Lift11 Conference in Geneva. Might contain errors and personal opinions. Use the comments if you spot nasty errors.

The only things that evolve alone in an organisation are disorder, friction, and malperformance. (Peter)

Bio: small Swiss-German village, C64, UniGE and asking for an e-mail address in person,, and

There is no such thing as a virtual organization.

First type of organization: killing mammoths.

Modern organizations: railways. The train was the fastest means of transport. Need organization so trains don’t crash into each other. Need for structure.

(1) Zero-cost production does not exist, if you talk about physical products (for digital products, it’s nearly zero). Huge gap between reproducing physical goods and ctrl+C/ctrl+V.

(2) Rational self-interest is not always the dominating factor. (3) Cooperation is key.

Start with a simple plan. Do away with complexity.

  • best local search in Switzerland.
  • keep the essential.

Do your partners understand your business plan? That’s important. Make sure they do.

Forget command and control. Railways need it, but not all organization does. Have commonly shared values.  [photo coming]

Split the system into independant units. Anti-Titanic Strategy. Failure of one piece will not threaten all the rest. APIs between the pieces.

Project managers do more harm than good. Reduce the number of managers. Techies hire techies, managers hire managers. Less managers than managed!

Get rid of process: set goals, and get out of the way. Forget MS Office. Use a wiki *(steph-note: or shared documents online)* No more specification headaches!

Physical presence is no longer required. It can be an advantage to have people who are geographically (and time-zone) distant. Hard at the beginning, though, you need to take the team together to shape those values. Get people in shared communication tools online. *steph-note: cf. Automattic*

Partnerships and not master-servant relationships.

It’s all about the result!

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