WeWork Ushers in The Collaborative Revolution
Collaborative Revolution is Coming
It is not often in our lifetimes that we can appreciate events that are harbingers of real innovation. This is because it’s nearly impossible to recognize when you are at an inflection point for positive change until many years after it has occurred. From the time of the Ancient Greeks, to Walt Disney and Henry Ford, even the smartest people during those times had no idea what was coming next.
One of my favorite quotes is from the late 1800’s from a famous physicist Philipp von Jolley, who told his student, Maxwell Plank:
“In this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few unimportant holes.”
If you haven’t heard of him, Maxwell Plank was one of the founding fathers of modern physics who laid the groundwork for the the atom, electricity, magnetism, and relativity; he also passed the torch to Albert Einstein to carry physics into the early 20th century. Imagine a leading, respected influencer, at a time when internal combustion engines, computers, and cell phones, did not yet exist, believed that physics had hit its theoretical limits! How ironic that one of history’s greatest physicists, responsible for some of the greatest technological breakthroughs ever, was convinced that the greatest innovations had already occurred.
The point is that, we never really know, no matter how smart we are, what potential exists for disruptive innovation. For those hoping to identify transformative technology, their best hope is to learn from the world’s greatest “do’ers”, who follow their instincts to improve the quality of life on Earth, which is what Plank, somewhat hypocritically, and so many other innovators like him have done since the dawn of civilization.
But all these famous philosophers, inventors and futurists aren’t alive now — and they certainly worked in very different ways than we are working today as we move towards a freelance economy, remote working, and globalization of teams and talents.
This leads me to WeWork, and not only WeWork and the CoWorking phenomenon, but a movement with even greater implications. I’m a mechanical engineer who is infinitely curious about how the future will pan out, and my colleagues and co-workers in NYC firmly believe we are at a major tipping point. How we innovate, invent, create and bring to life things that solve problems and improve lives is completely changing — again.
WeWork has disrupted how entrepreneurs and freelancers work by proving that individuals — and small teams — work better in a communal atmosphere. It’s proven that community is more powerful than a buzzword; it’s a deep human need, imbued in our DNA. It’s also shown that social and work interaction are different sides of the same coin and it has revealed that the majority of the world still lives in a collaborative dark age. WeWork’s colossal success makes it obvious that something bigger is coming… The Collaborative Revolution.
Collaborative Revolution does not just mean that most of us will eventually work in communal offices, share coffee together in a common space, and regularly attend meetups in our neighborhoods. It does not just mean leveraging a new collaboration tool, a new Slack channel, or a new Trello card, with a new Google Drive integration, to work faster with our teams and people around us. It does not just mean attending WeWork Summer Camp 2016, where thousands of people who share this collaborative ideology, came together to experience the power of this community and its powerful collective intelligence and spirit.
Collaborative Revolution is bigger. It requires our minds to open up more than we ever thought possible and it is based on a core belief that a group of people working together, with diverse backgrounds, skills and opinions, is much more than the sum of its parts.
It’s what happens when creative flow is permanently untapped. It’s what happens when economies flex to forms of a more optimal efficiency. It’s what happens when altruism becomes recognized as intelligent and in the best interests of the community, not just kind behavior.
I’m writing this today to thank WeWork, and the other creators who have broken open the possibility for a truly collaborative society. We applaud the people and companies who have begun to lay the seed groundwork for something much greater than we can ever imagine, having the potential to create a new epoch for civilization. It’s happening right now, and it’s impacting how we will live well into the future.
— Steven Reubenstone
Founder & CEO