Here’s A Wild Idea: Transcending Ownership

In Dec 2003, three Swedish founders changed the face of the internet forever.

They launched a site called The PirateBay – a file sharing website that quickly gained traction and by early 2006 it had become the central hub for ‘internet piracy’. Movies, games, software – it was all there for the taking. At one stage it was the 465th most visited website in the world.

Soon after, the Swedish Authorities (pressured by international interests) commenced a very long game of whack-a-mole. After 8 years, several police raids on servers, front page headlines, a multi-year international manhunt, large fines and jailtime for all three founders – the Swedish authorities raided PirateBay one more time in May 2014. This was meant to be the killing blow.

…And yet, just 4 days afterwards, a complete copy of The PirateBay was back online – hosted by another party.

In one way that final raid was the killing blow. However – not to the PirateBay – but rather to any chance of ever shutting the PirateBay down.

You see, the PirateBay doesn’t host files. It hosts links to files. This means that you can store it in a very small amount of space, and everyday there are thousands of people making copies of it.

PirateBay has transcended ‘ownership’ – there’s no longer a single person to hold accountable. And this makes it borderline immortal.

Could your own change transcend ownership? – or is it still dependent on someone to ‘drive it’?

(PS. for more info on the pirate bay story, the video below provides a great overview)

To Ponder: You Don’t Fight Non-Compliance With Rigour

Sticking with the concept of piracy a little longer – I want to briefly quote Gabe Newell. Gabe is the president and part owner of one the largest video game marketplaces in the world: Steam.

“One thing that we have learned is that piracy is not a pricing issue. It’s a service issue. The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates.”

Gabe went on to prove it. Driving Steam into the Russian market in 2011 – a market that was shunned by others due to its incredibly high piracy rates. (Not that we should cast aspersions here – in 2015 Australians were ranked as the worst internet pirates and abusers of copyright in the world. )

The idea here is simple. Piracy isn’t a sign that things are too expensive.

Rather, piracy (and non-compliance in general) is a sign that things are inconvenient. That there is a value imbalance.

As Netflix grew into the powerhouse it is today, piracy was largely abandoned. For a few bucks a month you could access all the content you wanted and you didn’t have to worry about moral, ethical or technical concerns. However now, with the decline of Netflix memberships and the increasingly fractured and confusing video-streaming industry – Piracy is on the increase again.

Where are you expecting but not achieving compliance in your own organisation? What would it look like if you offered greater service instead?

(Note – this is the core idea within my book Creating High Value PMOs. Flick me an email if you’d like to explore it in more detail.)