In the late ‘90s, Rob McEwen was the CEO of Goldcorp, a gold mining company based in Ontario, Canada.
Unsurprisingly, they were digging for gold.
Unsurprisingly, but also unsuccessfully.
They’d invested a tonne of money, taken out several large land leases, and drilled lots of holes.
In his search for a solution, Rob went to a conference where he saw a talk about Linus Torvalds, the creator of the operating system called Linux. Linux owed its success to the Torvalds’s decision to freely distribute his code, allowing the sharpest programmers around the world to refine it.
Rob left the conference feeling inspired.
“What if we made our data available to the world?” he thought. “If we had different people looking at it and analysing it, maybe we’d find something.”
The way his geologists reacted to this proposal ranged from scepticism to severe concern.
Despite their protests, in 2000 Rob launched the Goldcorp Challenge.
The company made their data freely accessible to everyone around the world.
Goldcorp would give half a million dollars to anyone who helped them locate the gold deposits in their land.
More than 1000 people from 50 countries took part in the challenge. Not just geologists but programmers, mathematicians, consultants and others – used their expertise to identify 50 new sites within the grounds of the Ontario mine. Over three-quarters of them yielded significant gold deposits.
In the next seven years, Goldcorp successfully mined 8 million ounces of gold.
A total turnaround that also saved Goldcorp several years of exploration time.
The secrets you keep may be standing between you and a major breakthrough. So instead of building more walls — or firewalls — consider: is it time to share your secrets?