Filling the Funnel vs. Climbing the Ladder - Peer-based Innovation

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"Isaac Newton remarked that we can see so far into the possible future because we stand on the shoulders of our forefathers. With the open collaborative tools of Web 2.0, we can now stand on the shoulders of our peers more easily than ever before." (


Chris Heuer has some remarkable graphics contrasting the old way of working, for which he uses the metaphor, Climbing the Ladder, and the new peer-based models, for which he uses the metaphor 'Filling the Funnel.

The blog entry where he explains both is at


Climbing the Ladder

“The traditional, competitive model required that people must “climb the ladder" of success due to the economics of scarcity that existed across the knowledge economy prior to the rise of the Internet. This is often characterized by phrases like “clawing your way to the top" or “stepping over people". In a world where there is only a limited amount of physical shelf space in a book store and only a limited amount of ‘media’ to shine the spotlight of attention on any individual’s thoughts and insights, this is a natural outcome. However, in a world of unlimited digital shelf space, scarcity gives way to the abundance of human potential. Coupled with the fact that nearly everyone is now able to act as their own personal media outlet, the situation changes completely. In a very real sense, this is a corollary of Chris Anderson’s work on the Long Tail - the only limiting factor becomes that of time and attention. Which leads us to flipping the model upside down from a world of competition over scarce resources to a world in which collaboration leads to higher efficiencies with our time and greater innovation within all areas of our work." (

The URL of the graph is at

Filling the Funnel

“So rather than “climbing the ladder", we are now “Filling the Funnel". Rather than stepping on our peers and stealing their ideas, we are learning from our peers and crediting them for the inspiration. Rather than worrying about our ideas not being fully baked and polished, we are sharing them earlier to enable our peers to help refine and polish them, strengthening them and getting the ideas out to a wider audience of interested people." (

The graph on the Modern Collaborative View is at

More Information

See the BrainJams site at