The Collaborative Age organization will be open to the outside (see a previous blog post: the organization needs to open itself).
Likewise their social network systems need to open to the outside. That’s even less straightforward.
I was just reading Tony Hsieh’s book on Zappos (‘delivering happiness’) and what struck me is how they leveraged a spirit of collaboration with the outside world through their systems to become successful. Indeed they work with their suppliers in a spirit of collaboration and give them access to sales data which would have been the graal of confidential information in Industrial Age organizations. And it works to leverage the commitment and support of the external world. It becomes aligned with the purpose of the organization.
Likewise a great parameter of Amazon’s renewed success is the openness of their website to the comments of readers and authors.
By opening its systems to the world the organization leverages on the world’s creativity, and avoids creating internal duplicates which are much less deep and responsive.
We don’t know what’s the recipe for opening the right way, at the right time. But experiments like Zappos seems to show that openness should not be feared, as long as the spirit of collaboration is there.
So, when do you open your internal social network to the world?
The elite of the Agricultural and Industrial Ages were sedentary.
The nomad was the enemy. Appearing suddenly from the steppes, the barbarian thirsty for blood, gold, and the amenities of civilization.
Civilization, wealth, value was sedentary.
The K.E.E.N., dominating the Collaborative Age value production system, will move through the world from project to project. He or she will be rootless. The elite will be international.
Today for the first time ever, the dominant elite will be nomadic. The sedentary will not dominate value production.
Are we ready for the change?
So many institutions of the Industrial Age were defined by their broadcasting power.
They were defined by their specialized journal, their TV channel, their radio station.
Broadcasting was expensive and complicated. It took institutions to do that.
Institutions decided what could be broadcast and what could not be. Institutions decided what was mainstream and what was not. Institutions decided what was good and what was not.
Today, unprecedented long distance interconnectivity bypasses the monopoly of institutions to broadcast information.
Anybody can, for no cost, broadcast to the world.
When will institutions realize that superior broadcasting power is not any more the justification of their existence?
In the Industrial world, everything was linear and predetermined. The trajectory of a ball. The orbit of the planets.
Your life was determined too – by your childhood experiences and your genes, later converted in the format of a diploma. The past determined the present which determined the future, according to a deterministic process.
We now know that’s not the case. Chaos theory shows that the smallest event can change the future. Psychology shows that one can change her perception of the past.
It is the end of ‘the road to destiny’ reaching the horizon linearly. It is not even being at a crossroad of possible choices. It is not about taking the least used road versus the most.
Today we are inside a wide space of possibles. We can trace our road in any direction. We don’t need to follow any example.
When do you start tracing your own trail?
Chaos theory is a new finding. It dates back to the 1960’s.
The best known example is the research by Lorenz on predicting the weather. Lorenz found, much to his astonishment, that the result of his computer calculations to predict the future weather could be completely different if minute changes were introduced to the initial values. He only used some basic laws of physics!
This led Lorenz to the famous “butterfly effect’: the flap of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil could foster a tornado in Texas!
Too bad for Newton and his successors, the world is not any more determined by the application of the laws of nature!
This is a message of hope, because it shows that our future is not determined.
We can make the choice to change and to create a beneficial effect to achieve the future we want.
We can make the choice to give that tiny flap of our wing and create tremendous change to the world.
When do you start your blog? When do you start telling the world what you have deep in yourself? You might create a far-reaching transformation of the world… for the best!
Since the beginning of the 20th century we know that Newton’s mechanistic approach is not sufficient to explain everything we can observe.
Einstein came out with the Theory of Relativity. Matter is now energy. Light is deviated by mass.
Planck, Heisenberg and others developed quantum physics. Particles are little bit of energy moving in the void. It is not possible to know exactly where they are. Observation changes the reality by reducing the uncertainty.
All revolutions are related to changes in our view of the world, which is expressed in the laws of physics. Newton’s theory, after some time, led to the development of all the machines of the Industrial Age.
Some time is always needed between the definition of new laws of physics and the development of new objects that take advantage of this new knowledge. It takes even more time for philosophers to decipher the consequences for the destiny of humanity.
We are now, after a few decades, surrounded by objects based on the new laws of physics. Laser. CD’s. Computer chips.
We have not yet fully understood what quantum physics means for our destiny.
One thing is sure. Quantum physics is a radical departure from the predictable Newtonian world. It is definitely a precursor of the new Revolution.
Einstein was right to be naughty. He just threw the world upside down.
“I am an engineer”. “I’m a doctor”. “I’m a teacher”. “I’m a librarian”…
“I have a PhD”. “I have a MBA”…
So many professions defined by a diploma, a degree. Each profession is an institution. You can’t enter it without the right document.
Once established, professions fight for their rights. You need certain qualifications to practice.
Protectionism kicks in. Degrees from other regions, from other countries are not recognized.
Professions are institutions. All those professions, all those degrees have been created during the Industrial Age.
Institutions of the Industrial Age will be significantly changed through the Fourth Revolution.
Professions, as any institution, will resist the Revolution. But they will have to change. They will have to open.
They will change, because a diploma that you get when you are 20 doesn’t say a thing about how useful you will be at 50.
They will open, because people outside established professions start contributing to the world in the area professions thought was their exclusive remit.
The question is not: when will professions open? But rather, whether they will open before being overtaken by the Fourth Revolution.
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As soon as they are established, institutions fight for their survival.
It is much easier to create an institution than to remove it. A testimony is the bloated government bodies of developed countries.
Even if the logic of their creation disappears, institutions will continue to fight for survival. There will always be people complaining about their possible removal; and members of the institution will fight for their social status and income.
Revolutions change the logic of society. Old institutions get removed and new institutions created.
When old institutions resist too long, change will be brutal.
What can be done to help institutions dissolve themselves?
Slavery is unethical. It is a terrible mistake of humanity, an example of the dark side of man.
Or at least that’s what our mindset of the Industrial Age tells us.
But in the Agricultural Age, slavery was a perfectly acceptable institution. It was an economical need. The surplus of manpower could not ask for more than subsistence.
Slaves were a significant part of the population in all ancient empires: Babylon, China, Egypt, Rome. When it is not pure slavery, it is exploitation of the peasants, the “serf” of the Middle-Ages.
In the Agricultural Age, slavery is a real, useful institution. And nobody finds anything to say against it!
Suddenly at the onset of the Industrial Revolution, this institution suddenly becomes inappropriate. It gets forbidden by the European powers. Is it because suddenly they realize that it is unethical? No, it is just that slavery is not needed any more in the Industrial Age production system. Workers need to be literate and educated. They need to earn money to become consumers.
Only after will people find higher order justifications on the moral level and try to impose it to the rest of the world.
We are now at the onset of a new Revolution. The value production system will change drastically.
Which of our current institutions will become inappropriate and unethical in the Collaborative Age?
Social networks is the foundation of value creation in any organization.
It has always been the case.
Today we can create virtual social networks that span continents and create a much denser connection between individuals.
Hence we have the capability to enhance significantly the flow of value created by the organization.
When do you implement a virtual social network in your organization?
Because management is scared.
Because time spent on social networks is not immediately productive. Where is the tangible output?
Because reinforcing the informal organization dis-empowers the formal hierarchy.
Because management feels it looses control.
Because if we allow employees to write what they want, they might sabotage the organization.
Only a few organizations will understand that the value of leaving employees express their creativity is the key to success in the Collaborative Age.
These organizations will dwarf all others.
Because these organizations will have had their hierarchy and bureaucracy sabotaged.
When do you let aside this illusion of control, and create an internal social network in your organization?