This letter was written as a follow-up to some points I raised about idea creation for the GOP in an earlier blog post.
To the future chairman of the Republican National Committee,
We face a tough road over the coming days, months, and years as we work to transform the Republican Party into the party of the future so that we can recover from this year’s devastating losses in the House, Senate, and ultimately, White House. The path ahead will be a challenging one, but I am convinced that we are up to the challenge and that ultimately we will prevail.
In order to do this, however, we must recognize as a party that many of the ways of the past are no longer the way of the future. For example, Barack Obama has proven that new media and the Internet are essential to winning elections. Similarly, we now see that we must be able to raise a large percentage of money and build a powerful infrastructure online.
Following this logic, we also need to realize that peer production is the way of the future – not just in politics or business, but in all walks of life. At a macro level, this means that we must democratize the Republican Party by opening it to mass collaboration. If the Republican Party wants to be the party of the future, it must adopt this sort of collaboration driven, peer production based model.
Indeed, peer production has proven enormously and unequivocally successful as a business model. Corporations are scrambling to replicate the impeccable successes of companies like Goldcorp, Inc., who in 1999 was on the verge of bankruptcy because it was unable to locate sources of gold on its property. Out of desperation, CEO Rob McEwen issued the “Goldcorp Challenge,” inviting anyone and everyone to help the company locate gold on its campus. The success was astounding: due to peer production, Goldcorp went from being an underperforming $100 million company to a $9 billion juggernaut. Many other leading companies, including IBM, Boeing, and Procter & Gamble have adopted peer production as a central component of their business model to similarly resounding success. Although political trends tend to lag behind business trends, peer production is clearly one trend in which we cannot afford to fall behind.
In fact, Barack Obama’s electoral success was not really due to his use of the Internet. Rather, the Internet only served as the medium through which Obama’s volunteers and supporters could peer produce. In the end, it was the Obama campaign’s understanding of the necessity of utilizing peer production and its ability to do so that fueled his victory. MyBarackObama.com was immensely successful in doing this, resulting in his supporters peer producing 200,000 offline events, 400,000 blog posts, 3 million phone calls, and $500 million. Everything at MyBarackObama made it unambiguously clear: “This campaign is about you.”
Democrats, following in the footsteps of countless successful corporations, are going to continue to use this model in 2010 and beyond because it is a proven winner. Accordingly, this begs the question: are we going to do the same? Please, Mr. Chairman, let the answer be an unmistakable, “Yes!”