HBR published this interview with Nilofer Merchant, author of 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era . She is formerly the founder and CEO of Rubicon and has worked at Apple and Autodesk.
Here are some outstanding excerpts:
Well, the social era is the context for business in the 21st century. And I make a distinction that in the information era, the best way to create value was through an organizational construct. And today, you can now connect a individuals. They don’t have to belong to an organization or within an organization to create value. And that’s fundamentally what’s different between the past and today.
But I realized as I was helping these big 800 pound gorillas, the sort of giants of industry, they kept looking at the social community programs or different ways you could run a business I’ll call it programmatically. They were just sort of trying to add it on to their business but not actually change anything else about their organizational structure.
And I started realizing that that was actually not creating the leverage point that we needed, and that there was a bigger opportunity
…The biggest change is that not everyone will create value, but that anyone can, and that fundamental notion that right now we spend a lot of energy as an organization picking and vetting who should be within the walls of our firm, and then we sort of leave everyone else out there. There’s this us versus them sort of thing that’s happening. In the future, you can actually allow anyone to contribute to you.
In a traditional era, which is the era that we’ve already seen go by, it relied on money as a form of exchange. And when we look at this other construct in the social era, there are more ways of being rewarded and more ways of doing alignment than just the direct, I will tell you and you will do what I ask you to do.
What changes in the social era is purpose. So the people who are contributing to the TED ecosystem, the TED platform, aren’t doing it because they’re getting paid by TED. They’re doing it because they have a shared purpose with the TED macro goal, which is to share ideas that matter.
That idea is not, hey, TED owns this and by the way, you are now working for them. It’s more, we are in community. And when we are in community, we can actually have a set of purposes you and I might be excited by, as well as what an organization is excited by. It’s broader than what we might have thought of as within the walls of an organization. And that becomes a different way to align people and motivate people.
I think the social era will honor the value creation starting with the single unit of a connected human, and that when we allow that human to work from their shared purpose, they will be engaged and alive and thriving. We largely view business as coming at the expense of people, that it’s either profits or purpose. And I believe the social era will allow us to reconcile those two as being a part of one piece. So I believe that’s going to be upside.
And I think the social era is going to look a lot more like 800 gazelles, meaning many connected individuals running in the same direction provides a scale that once was limited to a few big enterprises. Now we can have many organizations being able to create scale without being big, per se. And what that gets us, why that’s important is we’re going to be able to be fast and fluid and flexible not because we’re just going faster and working harder, but because inherently this model allows community to organize very fluidly and be able to create value together.
Read the full article here.
Kurt, The case is also made in the white paper which set in motion a business for social purpose in 1996. The principles of people-centered economics
22. The Information Age can become the pinnacle of human civilization, the Golden Age. Or, it can become the end of human civilization. We get to decide which way to go, and act accordingly.
23. Dismissing people and consciously leaving them to die is probably not the way to go.
24. Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings. Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion.
25. Each of us who have a choice can choose what we want to do to help or not. It is free-will, our choice, as human beings.