Going Bedouin

Ah, another old phenomenon is being dressed up as something innovative—nothing new under the sun! However, the article makes some interesting points about modern work ethics, telecommuting, so-called “face-time” etc. Although focused on the software business, the principles espoused can apply to many types of business. Have a read:

Greg Olsen: Going Bedouin

Another challenge with implementing a neo-Bedouin approach is in getting people to overcome behavioral inertia. Many people get very used to and comfortable with traditional approaches—to large support staffs, to phones on their desks, to control over all infrastructure details, to large central facilities, etc. Things often get done a certain way because “this is how we always did it” or “this is how everybody else does it”. Some people simply can’t make the transition to a more minimalist approach, and for those who can change, leadership is required.

You don’t have to read very far down the comments to see some chumps getting references to “Web 2.0” in there. Of course, this has nothing to do with Web 2.0, and everything to do with attitudes to work and corporate agility. How does your workplace stack up on this front? Interestingly, whilst my employer is generally very risk-averse, in my area of work we actually have quite a lot of scope re “going Bedouin”. This also seems to be something that IBM has a stake in, judging by what Ed has to say about his work life.


  1. Great article, and it gives companies something to think about. I long for the days when I was in a small company like that. They didn't go bedouin, but they certainly didn't put a lot of money in to infrastructure, either. I would like to do that again someday, using just this approach.

    One of the readers complained that Chiat/Day did this a few years ago, and it failed miserably. Well, sure! Laptops back then were pretty under-powered, online software was almost non-existent (think Web 0.5) and the company had not really been enculturated to this lifestyle. Plus, this isn't something I would do with all 300 employees, though I would certainly give them the option.Greg Walrath#

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