Instant Spin Alliance
ISPIN (Instant Spin Alliance) is an open standard that defines a strategy where small businesses collaborate with each other to generate other small businesses with the objective of creating a more profound impact on society.
The great majority of business literature advocates processes and methods that help businesses grow and expand with an ever-increasing accumulation of wealth and power.
ISPIN challenges this by supporting a balanced and distributed ecosystem, where businesses establish alliances in a bottom-up manner to promote innovation.
By creating loosely-coupled organizations that collaborate with each other, small businesses can scale all areas of business, including the business creation process itself.
Businesses that want to change the world and who hold highly ambitious missions such as “to organize the world’s information” or “to make the world more open and connected”, often believe that the only way that they can achieve these missions is by growing and expanding into large corporations. The fact is that the world's biggest challenges can only be solved in a distributed manner.
The solution to the world's biggest challenges requires a high dose of creativity and innovation, the type that emerges from the edges of the network and that early adopters help to diffuse.
Often large businesses fail to create or notice innovation because they are blinded by the innovator's dilemma, or trapped in bureaucracy, or just too busy creating lock-in strategies to win more market share.
Often they only take notice when innovation becomes disruptive, i.e. when it becomes a threat to their core business. Usually their response is to eliminate competition to consolidate their monopoly. This type of behaviour raises the barrier to entry and inhibits collaboration and innovation.
These large businesses are organized as top-down hierarchies where employees at the base of the pyramid have very little freedom to innovate. Some more progressive businesses do organize themselves into smaller decentralized groups to allow some freedom for innovation, but usually they still respond to upper management.
A better strategy to tackle the world's biggest challenges is to nurture a healthy ecosystem of small businesses that cherish their freedom, that are passionate about what they do, and that collaborate with each other in pursuit of a bigger dream.
We often see this strategy adopted by free and open source communities, where a collective of small businesses enjoy the freedom to study, adapt, and contribute back to their communities, not only in code, but in documentation, in training, in marketing, in advertising, and in research and development. Even though each business is small, together they can scale in all of these areas. With the right collaboration and communication tools and with the right mindset, they enjoy the benefits of being small without the downfalls.
These communities realize that it's in their best interest to grow horizontaly by generating a constant stream of spin-offs. Not the traditional spin-off where parent companies hold equity of the newly formed businesses, but one where these spin-offs enjoy complete freedom to innovate and even to create spin-offs of their own.
The ISPIN strategy consists in small businesses collaborating with other small businesses in the business creation process itself. They are not afraid that by doing so they'll produce competitors that will flood the market and dilute their own value, but instead are confident that they'll form collaborators that will help create new possibilities that they alone couldn't even dream about. They believe that empowering others is the best strategy for society, and that promoting democracy and freedom is the only way to truly change the world.
The biggest obstacle faced by small businesses is scaling. Scaling their products, their services, their marketing, etc. For example, how can a small group of developers afford to develop a product that competes with one built by a corporation with hundreds of developers? Or how can a salesperson sell a product in a saturated market with a dozen competing corporations, each with their own marketing team?
The only way they can overcome this obstacle is by collaborating with other small businesses. This is the case of free and open source communities, where individual developers join efforts with others to develop a common software. Some of the most secure and sophisticated software are built this way, and this open development process actually helps to keep the quality of the software high. Examples include the Linux operating system, the Apache Web server, and the Drupal Web framework.
By extending this idea of small businesses collaborating to create software, small businesses can collaborate to create other businesses. They collectively act like a distributed incubator, helping start-ups with advice, networking, marketing, and other business related topics. They can serve as a role-model to these start-ups, teaching them about the true value of collaboration.