30 August 2004

The Democratization of Corporate Kingdoms

Lately, I have immersed myself in all the research and collateral conversations going into re-editing my book – The Evolutionary Brand Called M.E. (My Emergence) – and writing a proposal for new series of courses on Evolutionary Leadership, Wisdom and Dynamic Networks for the University of Amsterdam Graduate School of Business Studies. This means I have had to read lots of recent new books, articles and papers – and have lots of interesting dialogues with a diverse group of knowledgeable people. What I have learned has inspired me and provoked some new perspectives.

Several emerging trends have floated to the surface repeatedly with substantiating evidence that they are already integrating and shifting the paradigm for how we do business. Look at how the reduced cost for communication and all the available tools, interfaces, and platforms have drastically changed our communication practices. And those new communication practices are evolving the hierarchical power structures of the corporate organization into more democratic and collaborative networks.

These new assets in human communication and interaction are democratizing the kingdoms of corporations and publishing, and creating whole new industries and sectors that are completely networked. Individuals – we – are gaining more voice and finding channels and shared platforms for our collective voice. Business is becoming more people-centric and less process-centric.

Co-creation is no longer the domain of artists and writers, it is the collaborative space created by giving old ways new context. Individuals are feeling empowered by their connectivity to others as well as by having access to information and ways that were previously inaccessible to them. They are reaching for what they previously thought was unattainable – doing what they love with personal choices now for who, what, where and why.

We see more and more one-person business hubs pulling together dream-teams to handle projects. Employees feel more secure now in leaving the big corporations after a few years because they can continue to serve their prior employer in a much more personalized way and with greater freedom. Within companies, older employees are feeling the freedom created by all the new ways to communicate and share ideas. Collaboration and social networking are the new buzzwords in the hallways. Younger employees don’t know any other way of being except technology-enabled, connected, and accessible with 24/7 integrated communications.

Are we finally headed into an age of innovation and creativity?

I highly recommend reading Tom Malone’s new book “The Future of Work” and Dan Gilmore’s “We the Media”. If you have time, add Richard Florida’s “The Rise of the Creative Class” and James Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds”.


Adriaan Wagenaar said...

Beautiful thoughts. The word 'Kingdom' appeals to me. It made me think: 'what would be the difference in meaning between organizations we could see as a 'Kingdom' and organizations we see as an 'Empire'. I mean: what is the difference between Kingdom organizations and Empire organizations?

Addition to the reading list: I can recommend "Liberating the Corporate Soul. Building a visionary organization', by Richard Barett.

Colby said...

Thanks, Adriaan...you've definitely triggered something with the semantic differences between empires and kingdoms. Want to explore what differentiates their beliefs and behaviors?