The question of how to best adapt to the changes brought about by the internet is of key importance to all organisations that are in information-based industries. According to Jeff Jarvis in What Would Google Do?, the answer is fairly simple: do what Google would. Here is a video in which he outlines the argument in the book (this is from the same session of BRITE ’09 as Umair Haque’s talk that I discussed yesterday):
Jarvis, author of the blog buzzmachine.com, takes an interesting approach in this book. He infers a number of rules for acting more like Google, but he does this without having direct contact with the firm. Because he’s a very entertaining writer, this first half of the book is worth reading. However, in some ways it rehashes ground covered well by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in Trust Agents (reviewed here), or David Weinberger in Small Pieces, Loosely Joined (reviewed here). The main ideas are that to succeed, you should join network and be a platform (both facilitated by the internet’s linking structure), give control to your customers instead of trying to retain it yourself, and build a business model based on serving niches. There are actually ten rules in the book, but those are the ones that I found most useful. Jarvis reduces these rules down to five in his tips for creating a Googlier you.
For me, it is the second half of the book that recommends it. In this section Jarvis tries to build new business models based on his Google rules in nine different industry categories, including media, retail, manufacturing and public institutions. Each section has two to three examples, and this part of the book is just fantastic. The thing that I like about it is that Jarvis really puts his ideas to the test here – tackling a number of industries that would not obviously lend themselves to following Google rules like car manufacturing, power generation, and restaurants. It is a fascinating intellectual exercise, and I think that a lot of his ideas would be worth trying out. I recommend the book based on this section.