“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Continued thoughts on open systems

Ok, I admit it. My last piece on “open systems” was a tad narrow and not thought through. Thanx Tom & Jorge for helping to set me straight. Well, maybe not straight, but straighter. Here’s what I’m thinking at this point:

1. Open vs. Closed is a pretty good ying-yang continuum and not really absolute. Even the most open systems have aspects of control subtle or overt that help them out. And the touted closed systems have elements of openness that act as release valves for otherwise contained energy.

2. What is often meant by “open” is a wide berth of easy participation across a large critical mass of population.

3. Not every component of an open system has to be open.

4. Open != to democratic. Participation, influence and control are different aspects of open and democratic is only 1 combination of those 3 criteria.

But now here are the issues I’m struggling with.

1. Can open systems really support consumer stakeholders? That is to say that consumers are complex individually and that complexity increases exponentially when we consider “the group”.  The main issue here is around the topic of open participation leading to shallow decision making processes.

2. Is an open back-end system (e.g. developer environment) as important as an open front-end system (e.g. end users, consumers)?

3. Since there are examples of amazing innovation in closed and in open systems can someone really espoused a philosophy that one is absolutely better than the other?

I have some more questions that are more difficult to articulate, but I’m feeling that openness is both overstated and incredibly important. I just can’t figure out how to codify the decision making process for when to use an open system and when not to within any larger system.

I’d appreciate other people’s thoughts immensely!

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