Officially part of the lexicon now
by Greg Olsen
Thanks to the attentive eyeballs and digital camera of our friend Chris Carfi, we were made aware of 'Going Bedouin's new stature in the language (see previous posts Going Bedouin & Bedouins are Everywhere).
It's nice to see additional evidence that the term is catching on, but the Wired definition's focus on lack of physical location does cause me some grief. Co-location in some form is vital to most organizations that are larger than a handful of people (real Bedouins even live in groups and share tents for crying out loud). The biggest benefits of Going Bedouin are readily available to organizations that have an office where everyone can actually touch each other!
If I sound sensitive on this issue, it is probably because my own pursuit of 'Going Bedouin' is undergoing a new twist. Today, another company is moving in to share our office space with us in an arrangement that fits with our flexible and opportunistic approach to real estate. Our new oasis-mates are friends and collaborators, but they are also bigger and somewhat less Bedouin (the first clues were the painting of labels on all the parking spaces and the posting of an advanced conference room schedule).
Our specific situation poses no real challenge to our neo-bedouin approach, but it does highlight the fact that some of the biggest challenges facing companies trying to pursue a minimalist approach to operational infrastructure can come from their relationships with business partners and customers. Very often small companies amass infrastructure as a side effect of their business relationships with larger partners and/or customers. The IT, HR, & facilities groups at these larger companies are seldom shy about encouraging or sometimes even requiring their partners and vendors to adopt their approaches to infrastructure (what better justification for their own existence). How many aquisitions never turn out as expected because the IT, HR, & facilities groups of the acquirer stomp the life force out of the once energetic and innovative company being acquired?
To prevent this sort of 'Byzantine Infection', organizations that go Bedouin need to do so forcefully. It's not enough to eschew infrastructure, you need to have a proactive approach to meeting actual customer and partner related requirements and the resolution to stand by it. Thankfully, there are decision makers at even the largest companies that understand that it is their own interest to let their partners and vendors stay nimble (they understand infrastructural bloat better than anyone).
SIDE NOTE: Paul found a great new piece of Bedouin gear - the Aerobie AeroPress coffee maker. This device allows one to enjoy the sweet pleasure that is espresso style coffee in a backpack totable form factor.