The Big E


“This new economy has three distinguishing characteristics: It is global. It favors intangible things - ideas, information, and relationships. And it is intensely interlinked. These three attributes produce a new type of marketplace and society, one that is rooted in ubiquitous electronic networks.

“Networks have existed in every economy. What‘s different now is that networks, enhanced and multiplied by technology, penetrate our lives so deeply that ‘network’ has become the central metaphor around which our thinking and our economy are organized. Unless we can understand the distinctive logic of networks, we can’t profit from the economic transformation under way.”

Kevin Kelly - 1998
“The Rules of the New Economy”


The ENTERPRISE, that we are involved in - what we call the “Big E” - is much larger than the sum of the Taylor organizations or even the sum of all the organizations that make it up. It embraces the entire growing ValueWeb system associated with iterations, MG Taylor, AI, knOwhere, SFIA Architects-Master Builders, TomorrowMakers and our active investor/customer/user networks. This web is composed of investors, many companies, several employee groups and “supply chain” members (traditional label), and a growing, diverse end-user group. It is still not a fully functioning ValueWeb in the technical sense. It lacks balance between the Producer, Investor and Customer Networks. It also is short of critical mass although it should grow to that minimum level requirement over the next 12 months (June 03 to June 04). Also, the System Integration function has often been in conflict with several nodes in the producer Network. This has been a factor of growth and immaturely of the idea. “It takes a ValueWeb to make a ValueWeb.” We are just coming out of “bootstrap” mode after over two decade of activity.




Business of Enterprise Model - 1985



In all, it is an active network of several hundred providers and several thousand users representing, by 2002, more than $75,000,000 a year in direct economic activity while leveraging and facilitating many times that amount. Several times a week, somewhere in the world, groups go through a “Taylor” DesignShop process in an environment, in some combination, inspired, designed, built, equipped by our web of organizations and partners. There are, globally, over 27 Taylor-AI designed and equipped or inspired NavCenter (our term) environments. The CGEY ASE work makes up the biggest piece of this activity, however, this is being supplemented by a growing web of other users/producers. CGEY is the only member of our ValueWeb, so far, who has taken the a major part of the system and method to global scale. This is a major achievement and a significant step in the proof of concept process.


ValueWeb membership ebbs and flows. It is the nature of webs that membership can be more volatile during their formation than many traditional organizations. It is also the nature of webs that they are more stable, in the long run, than most organizations. Under the proper conditions, communities of practice can flow thorough different ValueWeb enterprises without disruption to either. Critical mass is essential to ValueWeb viability, however. What makes critical mass is web-specific. This is a product of mission and environmental circumstances. The mission of our ValueWeb has been very broad and has always been global in scope. Over a 24 year period (1979-2003), it has grown from the vision and efforts of two individuals to the many facets that exist today.


I expect our web will be an order of magnitude bigger a year from now (June 2004). Exactly how this will be so is not known, however, a new energy and growth stage is clearly emerging. The activities associated with ValueWeb creation are at a far higher level than at any time in the past. Growth, however, cannot be forced it must be both designed and facilitated - and, in the end, be heuristic and spontaneous. ValueWebs are the creatures of intent and emergence. They come about differently than do traditional organizations be they hierarchical or loose networks.


Growth to critical mass was, of course, our intention from the beginning. It was not until 1985, however, that we had a formal Model of ValueWebs and their creation process. And, it was not until 1996 that the size and growth rate of the Taylor Enterprise was such that this intrinsic architecture started to emerge as a (potential) feature of it. It is an interesting thing to be part of this as it plays out today - in some ways as predicted and in many, many ways... not. A precise understanding of critical mass and how it is measured and accomplished is important to ValueWeb facilitation. It is just now possible to get an operational sense of this. So far, it has proven easier to evolve value-web-ness out of mature organizations than to build from scratch. This has been, in part, because of the environment (legal, financial and economic) around these nascent webs. I may also be that we have not yet learned how to do it.


The two following quotes were great inspiration to me when I read them in the mid 70’s. I used them in the ReBuilding the Future course that I taught in Kansas City while launching the Renascence Project. From these quotes and the work of Kenneth Boulding and others I extracted the essence of the network economy which became the organizational and financial basis of our Enterprise. Both still cary great power for me today.



“There is in the world today an ‘invisible college’ of people in many different countries and many different cultures, who have a vision of the nature of the transition through which we are passing and who are determined to devote their lives to contributing towards its successful fulfillment. Membership in this collage is consistent with many different philosophical, religious, and political positions. It is a college without a founder and without a president, without buildings and without organization. Its founding members might have included a Jesuit like Pierre Teihard de Chardin, a humanist like Aldous Huxley, a writer of science fiction like H.G. Wells, and it might have even given honorary degrees to Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Pope John XXIII, and even Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy. Its living representatives are a pretty small group of people. I think, however, that it is they who hold the future of the world in their hands or at least in their minds...”

Kenneth E. Boulding
The Meaning of the Twentieth Century - 1968


“But beyond formal organizational structures there are ‘invisible colleges’ - the loose aggregates of individuals scattered throughout the nation and the world who periodically communicate with one another. They are the sociologists, architects, lawyers, doctors, teachers and others whose avocation is ‘change’ and how it might be effected...

“Their communications are via the telephone, the Xerox machine, and the jet. They meet, exchange information, ideas, theories, and concepts. Tied neither to time place, nor position, they operate on many different levels at the same time. They are the link between industry and government, between the public and private sectors, between the the federal, state and city governments, between the government and neighbor-hoods, between the money givers and the money receivers, between the theorists and the activists. Their value lies both in their access to information from many sources and their rapid dissemination and utilization of that data.”

Leonard J. Dahl
General Systems Theory and Psychiatry - 1972


In January, 1983, I outlined in my Notebook (pages 504 - 506) the Strategy, costs and architecture of a network of Centers aimed at facilitating a “network economy.” This envisioned a “A global neural net by 1996 - a new political/economic system.” The estimated economic resources to launch the project through start up: $16,000,000. This network architecture was conceived as a fractal, recursive system starting from a Center/Center: “Growth occurs both by intent and organically in time: the Center disappears.” The expectation:“Specific networks form to do specific projects - then disband. System remains coherent by means of an operational principle(s) expressed in a systemic operational modality.”


This is the seed of the ValueWeb concept and the MG Taylor patent stance that mind, memory, networks and global infrastructure can be treated as a single system of many recursion levels that, in its own architecture, contains information. “There are many organizing principles employed in memory systems, however, the major, integrating architecture of any system beyond minimal complexity ToA, in an environment beyond minimal complexity, is a network ToA. The architecture of this network, itself, contains information. This pattern can be read from another level of recursion. Activity (of interactions), and so on, contain and transmit information. The architecture of memory is specific to the actual degrees of freedom of Channels ToA, Nodes ToA, and Thresholds ToA and their access strategies (rules). Real estate is important.” (Page 268 11/07/01). The metaphor of the “global mind” becomes real.


The estimate of 16 million was appalling at the time and turned out to be quite accurate. The estimates further indicated a 20 million dollar cost to get to a “full service” capability and $300 million to achieve true global scale. By 1995 the entire historical economic activity of our organization was about 8 million and there were three active Centers. In 1996 and 1997, there was 16 million dollars of activity adding 4 Centers. The goal of a global net by 1996 was not reached - it still is not. However, there are over 27 Center nodes now with more than 75 million in economic activity a year. ValueWeb member’s plan call for a doubling of Centers and a 4 times increase in economic activity in less than two years. Not yet there, however, enough critical mass is emerging to get a first view of “system behavior” on a global scale. Page 505 of my Notebook addressed the architecture of investors. This posited that there were many forms of wealth that can be seen in a 2 x 4 matrix that has many layers. This matrix shows a coexisting "individual” and “Commonwealth” structure that is expressed through “physical,” “mental” and “spiritual” values, or motives. Within this matrix, then, there are many reasons for different populations to invest: individuals, organizations, communities affinity networks, governments and, ultimately, global networks.



In time, this nascent system will grow in to a true marketplace. However, it will be a market place that has value far beyond just the financial transactions that take place within it. It is my sense that the “Network Economy” will soon mutate into something else. The focus will shift from transactions and income making to wealth generation and work/lifestyle quality and sustain-ability. This economy will run by a new set of social rules. It will be network based. However, it will be made up of many distinct “affinity” markets with their own tools of exchange, rules of engagement and standards of value. This will be a curious mixture of central systems and decentralization. The opposing trends, that we see today, between huge centralized organizations and a multiplication of small decentralized enterprises will be resolved.


The Big E ValueWeb is formed around a number of specific premises related to knowledge work, collaboration, emergent structures and the like. There is a strong value-set in regards how these tools should be applied. This, then, is an intentional network. Like all cultures, this web will grow and change. Its core will most likely stay intact. Since this core is related to - and has been from the beginning - a set of new economic assumptions, it will be interesting to see what effects growth and economic success has on the idea, operations and meme of the web itself and it’s various component organizations and nodes.


The Big E ValueWeb is a concrete application of the “Earth Library” concept from the Renascense Project. It is one form in which the Renascense Project agenda will be recreated and carried out. From my own personal viewpoint, the creation of this ValueWeb is the most complex project I have ever taken on. It’s creation is directly related to the vision I experienced on New Years 1958. Creating this “Community of Work” has consumed my attention more than, perhaps, any other idea. My goal is to become a member of this ValueWeb, and within it, pursue the creation of true ARCHITECTURE. In my definition of architecture, the practice of it includes design, building and using-operating the environments. By 1958, just two years into my architectural practice activities, I knew that I would fail in the practice of architecture in the conventional sense of practice. By 1974, I had failed. My challenge was to find a way to bring my vision into reality. This required, although I did not know it at the time, building a “place” to work - a network and number of physical nodes within which to build a practice. In doing this “for me,” of course, I am doing it for everyone who will understand and use the tool.


While this is my personal purpose, there is much that goes beyond it. In the first place, for my purpose to be accomplished, a social space with a much richer composition than architecture itself has to be created. When getting “down” to why architecture is so rare, the issues related to social values and transformation predominate. Architecture is “outer development.” It is the true expression of it’s builder’s values. It is a social art form. To build is to reveal who you are. Personal transformation and social transformation are co-emergent. Individual wealth and commonwealth are codependent. Node and Network are coexistent. Either/or is a tool of logic - not a description of reality. True architecture expresses, as a context for living, this integration. True architecture will require a new practice and that practice will be ValueWeb based.


Every individual that becomes part of this ValueWeb will have their own individual and community related reasons for taking part. Each will have to balance between contribution and use, between putting in and taking out, between investing and consuming. The ValueWeb will be robust when thousands are making such judgments on a daily basis based on a systemic and ecological view of the Enterprise. Failing this, there will be a “tragedy of the commons” and the resource will be spoiled. This issue is one that humankind faces on a planetary scale. The same condition is manifested, on many levels of recursion, time and time again. If our Enterprise is to be a “21st Century” organization, we will accomplish this stewardship principle. In doing this, we will be accomplishing far more than just the value of the Enterprise itself - we will be learning how to bring ValueWebs into existence.


In 1998, the Taylor operating companies experienced a great financial setback. This caused tremendous stress to many members of the ValueWeb Enterprise. The spirit of the Big E was shocked. A few took great short term and unethical advantage of the situation - most did not. Almost no one, however, had a way of dealing with the circumstances. This was a true test of the viability of the system. Over the year, even as it was crashing and reforming, the ENTERPRISE continued to grow. It passed this first test of sustainability. If there were ever any doubts in my mind if this Enterprise was recognized as having value and if it had the inherent adaptability to sustain a well-directed “death” blow, 1998 put them to rest. Economically, three years were lost for the Taylor core operating companies. Strategically, the major objectives have been achieved dispite this circumstance.


There remains, as of 2002, some repair work to return some web members to full engagement. This will be accomplished in time and only by action. Each in their own way.


The basic rule-of-participation of a ValueWeb is simple: make sure that the web is self-correcting and efficacious - and then, make sure that the organization (or “business of one”) that you operate is “fit” to function within that web. In 1998, the Taylor parts of this ValueWeb failed this test and we rapidly descended our “fitness peak.” This did not feel good. In 1999 we started climbing a new one. We were still climbing until the 2001 recession and September 11. These events have accelerated our process to a place with much greater inherent opportunity and value than the landscape we occupied in 1998. We stayed between two economic plateaus - 25% smaller or larger would have been profitable - for almost 18 months. The ValueWeb, as a whole, doubled within this period. It continues to grow at a rapid rate. The MG Taylor core Business Units shrunk, from 1998 to 2000 by about 24 percent. And, shrunk again by 25% in 2001. However, during the same period they diversified greatly. The variety of our “User Network” has expanded greatly. Scale and scope of operations are important to any enterprise - from a household to a nation to a world economy. The makeup of the economy is also important. In Jane Jacobs terms, in 1998 we were a “supply” economy - now we are becoming a “replacement economy” (See: Cities and the Wealth of Nations) - a long stated goal.


My sense is that our ValueWeb is still (Spring, 2002) critically short of the scope necessary for fulfilling its long term mission. A close order of magnitude of growth is required - and in a short period of time. Most of the components, including MG Taylor, can stay in business at the present scale of their operations with perhaps 15% growth. However, sufficient capital for innovation may not be available at this mass. The diversity of the players might be inadequate. Critical mass could be lacking and therefore not constitute enough force to get the job done. In time, the Enterprise would risk fading into the background noise of our society and become increasingly irrelevant. A great deal of our strategic thinking of the last year has gone into developing countermeasures to these risks. Finding the right Investor and Client/Customer partner-members is the key.


There are two caveats here. First it may be that a first level clam shell economic metabolism of about 100 million will prove sufficient to drive an overall ValueWeb of several hundred million (the amount - acting as a web - I believe this is necessary for long term viability). Second, even if this is not sufficient, the Enterprise, at a hundred million core level can advance it’s work, sustain indefinitely and transfer (or mutate) to whatever enterprise can carry the work to the next level. It also can pay those who created it in the first place a reasonable financial return for the effort put out and the value that was created.


The nature of this Enterprise, from it’s inception, has been determined by an ambition too great for any single organization to accomplish or for any one group of leaders to facilitate alone. Gail and I knew from the beginning that it was beyond us to accomplish. I have always stressed that what we invented was a social invention. It involves new technologies, new work processes, new forms of environments, new organizational principles - and, a new concept of wealth and enterprise. The nature of this effort is such that it takes the tool, itself, to create the tool. The tool is a creation engine. This “engine” is made up of people, tools, organizations and idea-to-reality throughput. It is designed to replace the way-of-working now accepted as the norm, the “given.” This method is such that only a ValueWeb can make and sustain it, only a ValueWeb can afford it and only a ValueWeb can truly use it.


To bring this about we had to start early - long before the need was commonly recognized. We built capacity, through a series of “bootstrap” level changes - “multiple iterations over time.” We built a conceptual model of social transformation and the network economy in the mid-70’s and asked “What opportunities would this create?” “What barriers exist that can block its successful implementation?” “Want is the problem?” “What tool-set is, therefore, required?” Our first facility was called “The Anticipatory Management Center” to emphasize this “look-ahead” necessity. Today, much of what is happening is what we anticipated 25 years ago. And today, we are just starting to employ this tool kit to the social/economic problems we foresaw.


If this Enterprise is to flourish and stay viable, however, it must once again look out to the future - not just execute, as dictated by present circumstances, that we anticipated long ago. To be a replacement economy means to have the inherent critical mass and character to recreate oneself. To do this, one has to be future driven. Just when great energy is going into expanding and scaling past demonstrations for present success, it is time to start the process of re-birthing the enterprise (Stages of An Enterprise Model).






This next cycle of “anticipatory design” will require greater imagination than the last. There is little about the human experience that is not up for grabs in the next quarter of a Century. We did not design this Enterprise just for now - we designed it for, at least, the next cycle of change. Will it be capable of an appropriate response?


It is time to re-conceive and recreate even as we bring the present era of work to closure. In 2003, MG Taylor will sponsor a number of new (and some old) activities: TANSTAAFL DesignShop events, FutureViews newsletter, ReBuilding the Future seminars and the Master Planning Process. These will do many things. First off, focus the web on many issues that were the reason why this Enterprise was created in the first place. Second, rebuild the Model, now 25 years old, that the Enterprise was conceived and built on. Third, these activities will create a new level of interest, in our Enterprise, from a new generation of people and organizations. With a new generation KnetWeb in place, an accelerated level of organic growth will be possible.


The nanoPATCH exercises that we did for the Foresight Senior Associates, in 1999 and 2000, are one example of what this future work might be and illustrative of what kind of future took kit that is required. A PatchWorks exercise is, by definition, a ValueWeb scale exercise.


More importantly than these “forming” exercises that come from the Systems Integration (SI) core of the web is that a number of members are beginning to create web-scale activities. This reflects a true “market” need and are the first examples of spontaneous “life” in the Enterprise as the result of “pull” rather than “push.” This to me is a measure of growing maturity. In addition, we are now attracting new client members who will use the technology to build full-scale ValueWebs of their own. A mature ValueWeb has many recursion levels, many nodes that are in other webs and the web is always incubating and spinning of other ValueWebs. And, attracting other webs “in.” It is this aspect of “working” that makes ValueWebs work.



Matt Taylor
Hilton Head
January 5, 1999

SolutionBox voice of this document:

posted: March 2 , 1999

revised: March 10, 2002
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• • • 20020307.275499. mt •
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(note: this document is about 95% finished)

Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Matt Taylor

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