James F. Moore May 2010

James F. Moore is an expert on leadership and change in large scale social, economic, and technical systems. His current projects include:

1. Study of health and health care systems, hoping to go beyond current approaches to reform by examining the systems relationships among consumer behavior, health care coordination and process improvement, information technology, and law and public policy.

2. Maintaining an ongoing action-research study of the Internet and political and social change, focusing on the role of citizen participation and new forms of interactive media.

3. Continuing a twenty-year participation in the evolution of the computer and communication sector, with primary concern for innovation, business strategy and leadership, industry structure, and the role of volunteerism and popular movements such as Open Source Software. Currently Jim is engaged with the development of personal media networks and new types of groups and communities.

Jim is a private investor involved in the venture capital and corporate venture business, and has served on the boards of several companies and organizations, including two public companies.

Jim is a human rights advocate and is involved in politics, and works to bridge the global digital divide. He is a supporter of both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Jim volunteered full-time in the campaign to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan in 2004-2005. He was co-founder and served for more than a year as the day-to-day editor for the web campaign “Sudan: Passion of the Present” and helped develop and sustain a number of other activist individuals and organizations including Save Darfur and the Genocide Intervention Fund/Genocide Intervention Network. These organizations are part of a broader campaign to establish a world capability to prevent or intervene to halt and recover from genocidal situations.

In 2003 and 2004 he served as the National Director of Internet and Information Services for the US Presidential Campaign of Howard Dean, overseeing all social media as well as technology infrastructure.

In 2003 he wrote “The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head” which considers how citizens worldwide are joining through communications technology to engage international institutions and shape global policy. The article became an Internet phenomenon and was reviewed in publications ranging from the National Journal to the New York Times. In 2004 Jim was honored by the 4th World Forum on e-Democracy as one of the top 25 individuals, organizations and companies that are having the greatest impact on the way the Internet is changing politics worldwide.

From 2000-2004 he was a Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School, promoting legal reforms in developing countries in order to support entrepreneurship and technology diffusion. While at the law school he organized and chaired the board of Hewlett-Packard’s “E-inclusion” program to create technology for and in developing world economies. He founded the Open Economies Project to promote laws supportive of digital entrepreneurs. As part of a team sponsored by the Markel Foundation, he advised the South African Government on policies to promote digital development, including telecom law reforms. He served as a member of the United States delegation to the Digital Opportunity Task Force of the G8 Group of Nations, and was an adviser to the United Nations ICT Task Force and to the ICT initiative of the World Economic Forum.

Jim had an early career as a strategic management consultant. From 1989-2000 he was the founder and CEO of GeoPartners Research, a management consulting and investment strategy firm, where his clients ranged from Muppets creator Jim Henson to AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Royal Dutch Shell. In addition to management consulting, Jim was involved in corporate venturing on behalf of AT&T Ventures, Intel Capital, GE Capital and Softbank (the largest single investor in the Internet economy, and the only major investor to sustain its success). He also advised and invested in start up companies, and served on the board of directors of two public companies.

Jim has written widely on business topics. He developed the concept of “business ecosystems” to describe networks of companies that collaborate and co-evolve to generate economic value. His Harvard Business Review article on business ecosystems, “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition,” won the McKinsey Award for best article of the year for 1993. His 1996 book “The Death of Competition: Leadership and Strategy in the Age of Business Ecosystems” won numerous awards (“one of the ten best books of the year,” BusinessWeek, and “one of the ten best books of the decade for entrepreneurs,” Wall Street Journal) and was a best-seller. It was translated into and published in several languages including Chinese. His work was featured in publications including Fortune, BusinessWeek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal. He appeared on national television, including being interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show on PBS.

While most of his business career has been in high technology, his early work was in health care organizations. These included Boston Children’s Hospital (MA) community primary care service, Wrentham State School (MA) services for the developmentally disabled, the Bedford (MA) VA Hospital alcoholism service, the Santa Clara County (CA) mental health system, and American Medical International (CA), national health management. His doctoral thesis grew out of a multi-year study of Alcoholics Anonymous as an informal but systematic environment for community and personal healing. He has continued to follow the evolution of clinical practice under changing conditions of policy and organization, society, technology, and patient/clinician/community behavior.

He was an early friend and adviser to the Harvard AIDS Institute and the Harvard Society and Health Program (now Harvard Department of Society, Human Development and Health), and is currently involved with the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. He is a member of the Leadership Council of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Moore earned a doctorate in Human Development from Harvard University in 1983, where he combined studies in organizations with cognitive and developmental psychology. He was a post-doc in organizations at Stanford University, and conducted research at Stanford and Harvard business schools. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1976 from The Evergreen State College in Washington State—one of the most innovative organizations in public higher education. He is active in college affairs, and received the Bud Koons Award for Service from the college in 2006.

Moore lives in Massachusetts with his wife Sarah Moore, a lawyer and minister. He has three children, one in college, one who attends public Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, and one infant.

Toward a general theory of symbiosis in the economy


Take as a given: Evolution in the natural world proceeds through the conversion of energy into structures. All forms of advance are reflected in the emergence of higher and higher levels of quasi-stable sequences of organized processes. Our world is an open system, open to energy in the form of sunlight, and able to convert that energy into structure.

The work of the Commons theorists, e.g. Benkler, Bolier, Raymond concern the generation of valuable structures through the combined efforts of members of communities to explore and establish symbiosis. They describe how structures are created by people combining resources, values, ideas, designs, problems, and expanding participation by people. Their focus is, crucially, on social movements to generate symbiosis; movements motivated by passion, believe, recognition of the power of cooperation, interest in developing and showcasing skills, and so on. Importantly, the development of symbiosis is not dependent upon the formal monetized economy. It may be helped by it, it may contribute to it, but its generative power does not derive from it.

The work of these scholars nicely meshes with those who have pointed out that “homemaking” and so-called (gender biased) “women’s work” and other informal contributions are central to our lives as societies. Moreover, the fact that these contributions are non-monetized and “off the books” is essential to the working of the formal economic system. Like environmental exploitation, including the use of fossil fuels, the exploitation of informal labor complements harsher forms of human exploitation that have been essential contributors to economic development, including slavery and systematic underpayment for labor.

In addition, this scholarly work is complemented by the findings of development economics that the capacities of societies to provide material benefits to their members is mostly dependent on informal and largely tacit social facts, including education, health, freedom from strife, and social norms.

In short, human society and its real endowment are vastly dependent on an informal landscape of symbiotic relationships many times larger and more significant that the formal, priced economy. The priced economy is indeed the tip of the iceberg, or better, encompasses just a small part of the social ecosystem.

And yet our predominant policy narratives in the United States ignore these realities.

Militarized drones targeting people from the air create fear that disrupts symbiosis. The social movements that can thrive in a wartime environment are notoriously simple-minded, resource and structure destroying, and violent.

Domestically the working out of our monetary policy is handled by a “capital distribution system” that generates formal purchasing power–that is, new money–that is distributed from our government through a few large banks, to other banks and to asset managers, who in turn spend this new money on investable, formal assets. Little of this money reaches people through the informal economy and at the informal, social foundations of our society. Why then are we surprised that formal asset prices are high, and indicators of broader well-being are low?

Making Bill Densmore’s “infovalet” concept successful


Bill Densmore, the well-known journalist and philosopher/strategist of journalism futures, is in town this week, and I will be meeting with him later today. His concept for “infovalet” as a new vision of journalism in society is, I think, quite interesting. Here is a link to his very wiki-like material on the concept.  http://newshare.com/wiki/index.php/Infov…

Bill’s strategic challenge is how to get traction on creating a very broad new ecosystem, with new roles, new ways to pay for value, and new institutions.

I’m going to make a few suggestions.

First, in my view infovalet is as a disruptive technology to the various form of high-priced consulting now thriving in society, not as an extension of journalistic institutions. Infovalet can sell journalism’s highest values and virtues, but in new and disruptive institutional forms.

For example, information networks funded by hedge funds are currently in the news for helping promote insider trading. Can an infovalet network pull information out of companies and industries–information the companies and the industries don’t necessarily want out in the market–and make it available to the public by (expensive) subscriptions? Can the legal issues by resolved? The hedge funds won’t get exclusive information–in any case that is illegal–but they could get fast access to limited release information.

Controversially, a number of social commentators believe we need more exposes like those of Wikileaks, not less. Indeed, Wikileaks is rather tame compared to Bob Woodward’s excellent Obama Wars account of the disturbing and dysfunctional run up to our current “strategy” in Afghanistan. Is there a way to create something with the reach and power of Wikileaks, and with the insight and reflective excellence of Woodward’s book?

Second, I believe strongly that Bill should start with a for-profit entity focused on disrupting high-priced consulting in a particular niche. Les Vasdez of Intel Capital has long pointed out that startups should be focused on attaining their first ten million dollars of revenue, not their first billion. Only in this way do they force themselves to identify, serve, and learn from a real market. Capitalism, for its ills, assures focus on solving problems someone is willing to pay for. My contention is that vast sums of money are today being paid for information of exactly the type developed by high quality journalism. This is not recognized by journalism professionals because this money, this market, has a business model that is not understood by the journalism world. Vast sums are paid quietly by customers to firms based on consulting business models working mainly in niches. These businesses are just waiting to be disrupted.

New models of journalism should not, with all due respect, be funded mainly by foundations. Foundation decision-makers are not close to real customers, real markets, real social needs. They do not co-evolve their offerings with markets, but rather with donors. I genuinely believe in the value of good journalism. It is because of this belief, and my optimism about markets, that I simply don’t believe foundations add that much to the conversation, beyond supporting the startup costs and new thinking that folks like Bill do.