Archive for July 2010

Power Over vs. Power With

July 12, 2010

Practical Steps for Integrating Positive Personal Change

Those who have read my previous writings understand the scientific theory explaining why social networking capacities of the Internet have precipitated a trend wherein the “power over” model of financial interchange is being transformed.  The job motif is being supplanted.  In its place, a “power with” set of fundamentals is enhancing financial exchange.  Here I consider the practical implications of this trend.

Implications for Financial Planning

Corporations are often compared to battleships.  Large organizations are bulky and hard to turn.  In stable seas, this is not a problem.  Yet, when a sea change occurs and the tides begin to sweep faster and faster, one might rather be in a kayak than a battleship.

Traditionally business people have said, “We are going to commit a year to this.  We will match our services to the needs of this specific region.  We will monetize our services in this way and make thus-and-so profit.”  This kind of planning has been so ubiquitous that it has passed unquestioned.

Such planning is, however, not in sync with the current opportunity precipitated by the Internet.  My argument has been that large scale social dynamics introduced by Web 2.0 have transformed the Internet into a system that exhibits properties typically observed in natural systems.  In such systems, long-term business management principles do not apply.

I suggest that the following principles do apply to doing business within “the social web”:   1) Agile in-the-moment decisions must be immediately implemented.  The success of these wildly adaptive instinctive moves will depend on how true they are to the universal fundamentals of our shared human experience.  2) Decisions about financial exchange will be made at close range and will not violate the other person’s social intuition.  The systemic buffers that previously made deceptive hype viable are vanishing.  Truth-telling and personalization will be the *real* currency of exchange.  3) Authenticity and personal interaction will provide a closer fit for micro-context-appropriate rendering of services.    4) Goods will be, a) high quality, b) unique or personalizable, c) efficiently produced, d) low cost, and e) marketed to niche consumer groups without recourse to mass advertising.

Risks and Opportunities

In the emerging context static kills.  Money that stays still will lose its value.  Flow precipitates flow.  Stockpiling is lethal.  Micro-payments as a means of establishing the value of specific types of interactions lubricate financial alliances and reduce interpersonal friction.  Valuing the other person for what they bring (especially their links to unique perspectives, practical tactics, and proven skills) translates into ability to take the next step.

In a living system the focus is on living.  In this context, nature can be taken as a model.  Two things nature prizes: 1) Sustainable Efficiency (nature cuts excesses wherever they are found).  The lithe survive.  2) Replication (there is always a balance between replicating core marketing principles and constantly injecting the financial network with new innovations which are the inevitable fruit of personalization).

They say, “necessity is the mother of invention.”  I predict that greater social evolution will occur during this recession than during the previous several decades of relative abundance.  However, paradigm shifts are seldom universal.  What typically occurs is that as a new form comes into existence the traditional motif continues for a time in parallel.  How can you tell the difference?  How do you know which is innovation and which will shortly become starvation?   Watch for where the ruckus is.  Innovation is relatively silent.  Real progress slips in quietly.  The group who is protesting the most is likely the same group that is being left behind.  Remember, change isn’t rapturous for those who are left behind!

The key is quick adoption of the core principles of network-based business and slower adoption of radically new business structures and procedures.  It’s sort of like building a smaller, newer spacecraft while floating along in the larger hulk that is about to fail.  Survival dictates that one maintain a degree of overlap between old and new.  The question is how.  The answer is finding a mastermind group that is working on elegant means of making the transformation. To be the best, one must learn from the best.