NSL Blog

Open source manufacturing

August 16, 2013

Openness is resilience

Openness is resilience

I picked this up from the wonderful p2p Foundation wiki about open source manufacturing, interesting to me as principle 3 of No Straight Lines in Open and Openness – Openness is resilience.  I came across the idea and practice of open manufacturing when writing the book, exploring how far openness as a principle and practice can take us, and how it can play a key role in the transformational re-design of business – which is how I found Local Motors [The radical re-design of business].


The “open” in open manufacturing can be interpreted in a few different ways:

  • open source designs under free licenses
  • open to do-it-yourself
  • open to end-user dialogue
  • open to peer-review
  • open to collaboration
  • open to cradle-to-cradle analysis
  • open to viewing as an ecosystem of processes
  • open to democratic participation
  • open to new design ideas
  • open to new economics
  • open to the future

And perhaps even more. These possibilities all flow out of “free and open source licensing” of designs (or in other words, they are less likely to happen with proprietary designs).

On Openness: The concept of being open facilitates a new organisational, social and commercial capability. And it plays a key role in helping participatory cultures to function properly, as part of a new operating system where mutuality and the sharing of knowledge, information, data and resources can accelerate innovation and redistribute wealth and provide for a better world. It is inclusive by design, and its by-product is organisational and social cohesion. In designing for a more sustainable world, we must seek mutual gain and mutual benefit. Mutuality recognises a sustainable world which can only be achieved through, as Elinor Ostrom described, the sharing of common pool resources. I think that those companies and organisations that go the furthest in exploring and seeking mutual benefit will be the most resilient, whether tending the land, a people or an organisation. This requires organisations therefore to be open and collaborative. Leadership must then be divested from a few to the many, bottom-up not top-down, narrative led rather than in broadcast mode. And organisations need to learn how different designs in open innovation and collaboration can significantly enhance their performance.

Both philosophically and practically we must always be open to new knowledge, and open platforms, open legal frameworks stimulate collaboration and innovation, whereas closed knowledge systems have a finite shelf life. Therefore, we need to challenge whether we are working in closed silos or in open ecosystems. This open ecosystem is also supported by the human ethos of sharing, and that sharing in fact opens up and stimulates our world in many wonderful ways. We need to become literate in really understanding how open as a concept and reality can help us deliver better in today’s world.

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