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Makers: The new industrial revolution

April 9, 2014

Makers: The New Industrial RevolutionThe whole idea of being able to carve out our creative space and work-life with so much assistance from technology constantly makes my head spin. The very fact we can easily spend a day to set up a website and pretty much launch a business in any corner of the globe selling anything with a little bit of elbow grease and a bit of tech savvy is truly exciting.

And it’s been a while since I did a roadtest on a book or concept, so without further ado, here is my impression of the extremely power packed ‘Makers: The new industrial revolution’ by Chris Anderson.

Here are the key points that excited, delighted and made me stop and pause as I read.

We’re no longer restricted to our local market

This is a given to most of us but what we hear most of the time are the negatives, but what about the positives? We can find any person we want in the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD to work on our project.  We don’t have to give up on ideas because we can’t find someone.

Nifty!

You can bypass education, experience and more

A university degree is not your only option. You don’t have to work that terrible job you’ve discovered you hate along the way. You can carve out a working life that you want.

This isn’t some drivel from a self help seminar. This is the real world of the maker. You can build a blog, create your prototype, create your craft works, grow whatever the heck you want and find an audience for it.

You can go straight to talent, passion and demonstration.

Niche goods bring discriminating customers

People will always have money for the well built, well thought out and well put together things of life. We pay for unique qualities, inspiring experiences, new things to try and a whole host of other things- and we continue to do so.

The reality of the situation is 99% of the people want you to do the work for them- and the remaining 1% will add to the solution and improve what is already happening, which you in turn can improve upon.

Pricing what you do matters

The book recommends a pricing model of 2.5 times the labour cost. I am yet to put this into practice, but I can see how this would work with both giving you enough margin to live on, as well as give you the ability to satisfy sales requirements, reinvest in your business and so on.

Price with what you need the product to cover in mind, not what customers expect or what your competitor’s charge.

Working for free isn’t bad

That fun little freelancer chestnut of whether to work for free or not gets bandied about a lot. The way to work for free is to make it work for you. So if you have the opportunity to work for free in a community style setting such as Wikipedia or developing knowledge through working on hardware with a collective, these can be incredibly invaluable experiences.

The main thing to remember is to have a personal aim within the community agenda. It has to match what you need, too. Make your personalised contribution to a wider project is a positive.

Community matters

If you already have a proven community prior to launching your product or idea into the wider world, you’re chances of success are significantly improved. It’s a competitive advantage by having those who care about the idea doing the talking for you. Even if someone else can make your product cheaper, your community will be invested in a way to reflect how involved they are in the decision making, how much say they have in the innovation process and how much ownership they can take of the project on the whole.

But community means commitment. You will have to contribute for free, give advice, keep the conversation going and be willing to give more than you get.  A community is about retrieving what you put into it.

Copy cats and clones are advantages in disguise

Rather than demonising those who clone your work, use what they do to improve your own model or idea. Use their experience to inform your own.

Can you view their interactions and learn from their mistakes? Can you draw on the learning? Have they been able to fix the bugs in what you have tried to do? Is there a gap they are forgetting about where you can grow?

The best ideas come from sharing the ideas and observing what happens when they go live.

 

Other key takeaways from ‘Makers: The new industrial revolution’ include:

  • You can prove the skills you have by doing side projects.
  • There are not enough great jobs for everyone, so you have to be hungry.
  • Knowing the theory and being able to apply it practically are two very different things.
  • You can learn just about any skill you want and demonstrate it to someone somewhere.
  • Adapting and diversity within your skill set are the keys to success.
  • Be smart enough to realise that even if a particular task or job isn’t exactly your dream, you do need to give it a decent shot and proper respect in order to find out what is.
  • Your attitude will always be your biggest barrier to moving forward.
  • If the project is interesting enough, the right team for the project will find it.
  • If you are worried about what opportunities you have available, create them. And create opportunities for others, too.

 

In summary: 

‘Makers: The new industrial revolution’ is a great read for anyone who is looking to get their head around the flexibility that is available in the current age. Taking a look at labour decentralisation and what sharing thoughts and ideas can do on a hardware level really helps more intangible workers such as myself understand things a lot better.

When a situation requires hardware and use of machinery and technology to prototype an idea, there is a case for ensuring the boundaries are as open as possible. I think too, open boundaries are a great thing for less equipment based endeavours.

The difference is you get a deep sense with Chris Anderson’s journey he isn’t working in such a way as to undercut and exploit. He wants to create community, he wants to maintain connection, and he simply wants the right audience and the right workers for the job.

And I think that lesson is an incredibly important one for all business people, no matter their field, to take on board. You will only ever get from your community or your experience what you are willing to put in.

You can catch Chris Anderson in action talking about the new industrial revolution here. 

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