All for One, One for All – Elon Musk Sets His Patents Free, and Bob Johansen calls for Common Cause

three_musketeers-e1291670452585Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno
All for one, one for all…
motto for The Three Musketeers
(On November 30, 2002, in an elaborate re-burial ceremony, the coffin of Alexandre Dumas was draped in a blue-velvet cloth inscribed with the motto)


Do you remember when those “restaurant rows” first started popping up along freeway exits many years ago? A cluster of restaurants, all together. There were two reactions – “this is crazy.” And, “this is brilliant.”

“This is crazy,” because why would anyone put a restaurant right next to another restaurant, when the customer might choose that other restaurant.

This is brilliant” because people get in their cars, say, “Let’s go eat,” and really haven’t decided exactly what they want. Put a bunch of restaurants together, and they will make a different choice each time they go. It was a destination, with plenty of choice. “Good for one, good for all…”

Yes, in fact, what is good for all just might be the best thing for one-and-all.

This may become a business necessity in this fast-destructing world of modern day business.

Leaders Make the Future - Ten Leaderhsip SkillsHere’s what Bob Johansen says about it, in his book: Leaders make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills or an Uncertain World (emphasis added):

Self-interest will not be enough: leaders will need to broaden their perspectives on winning to include the larger systems of which they are a part. Business leaders will still need to drive revenue, increase efficiency, and resolve conflicts, but traditional financial mandates won’t be enough to succeed over the long term. Leaders must also embrace the shared assets and opportunities around them – not just the individual takeaways that will reward them or their companies alone. Leaders must make money and make common cause with others to grow overall markets and economies.

You want a tangible illustration of this? Look at the breathtaking decision of Elon Musk, CEO of electric-car company Tesla, to release the vast majority of their patents to the world, for any and all to use, without “fear of lawsuits.” Here’s part of the announcement to his company, and to the world, about this, from his blog post, All Our Patent Are Belong To You:

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology…

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. 

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

In other words, if only Tesla makes a good electric cars, that won’t be enough – for Tesla, or for that emerging technology market, or for the planet we all share.  So, he made it easier to become his “competitors’ – “allies” — common cause!

The truth behind this concept really is obvious. If industries don’t thrive – not just individual companies, but entire industries – then the entire economy is in an ever-more damaged position.

And if companies do not work together to bring new technologies to the masses, then we are faced with a dismal future of economic and environmental dilemmas almost beyond our imagination.

disney-three-musketeers-all-for-one-and-one-for-allIt really is an “all for one, one for all” world.


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