Ask innovators and futurists where to look to create maximum social value in a world that is becoming increasingly unpredictable, and they will direct you to mashups among different technical fields.
Ask economists how to allocate scarce resources, and they will tell you that resources should be allocated according to their ability to provide the most value.
Ask internet users where to find the most reliable and comprehensive information on a variety of issues and they will point you to Wikipedia, which demonstrates the power of crowdsourcing.
Put these all together and you have a cutting edge institution, with the ability to create truly innovative solutions.
Valve is a company with a diverse and eclectic work force, ranging from economists, to programmers, to school administrators. There is no hierarchy in the organization and no job titles. It is up to the employees to determine where they can add the most value (quite probably linked to what they are most passionate about). They welcome suggestions from users and incorporate feedback into future products. In short, Valve is what you get when you drop a bunch of creative people in a room with all kinds of different backgrounds and let them loose to build their own future. And it is a business model that works, when you are looking for innovation.
While Valve is focused on computer gaming products, what would stop an organization from adopting the same logic in terms of, say, addressing public policy needs, creating technologies for the developing world, providing opportunities for communities to grow, or dreaming up new avenues of activity in any number of other fields? One difference may be that in the computer gaming world innovation is based exclusively on imagination, while organizations with a public service orientation must be responsive to actual needs. Still, addressing needs should not compromise the above strategy, as long as efforts are not too focused on one particular problem or issue.
The recipe for excelling in today’s world, characterized by accelerating and unpredictable changes, is to create a way for the wealth and diversity of information that exists in the world to self-organize in ways that utilize the skills and passions of each individual to create something that could never have been designed through a top-down approach. We should start thinking about how we can use this logic to address social and policy issues, and not only computer gaming. At the Reut Institute we have already begun the process of working to understand the underlying dynamics governing the changes around us, in order to make sense of the age we live in and to serve as the foundation for future Reut projects.