Helping people to do it for themselves
One of the commonest mistakes made by e-businesses is to think from a bricks and mortar perspective and try to build an Internet presence based upon the notion of providing a fully comprehensive and efficient service for customers or clients. Such an approach to doing business is so universally accepted that it is seldom even considered that there might be a better way. After all, what could be better than using all possible means to find out what customers want and then make every effort to give it to them?
However, the environment of the Internet is not the same as that of the world of bricks and mortar. It is possible to go one better than provide customers with what they want - it is possible to enable customers to provide for themselves.
Take this problem of supplying cancer treatment information to patients: a conventional approach to supplying such a service would assume that such a service is impractical because there is too much knowledge to be recorded and even if it could be recorded it would rapidly become outdated. Yet, it must be a fact that all current, up-to-date information must be known somewhere in the world by someone. Isn't it possible to find a way to connect together those who know with those who need to know?
Structural organisation, formal rules and procedures are not appropriate for solutions to this kind of problem. It will need an informal, dynamic system, that is self building and self maintaining. Such a system might be possible to arrange if natural human motivations can be harnessed: to create and drive such a self-organising process. The trick is to provide a suitable framework for this self-organisation process to take place.