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Sep 26, 2009
David, really excellent post. It occurs to me that some very interesting things are happening to our understanding of inter-relationships because of the level of connectivity we're experiencing due to the emergence of social technologies. The more granular data becomes, the more it drives us to a counter-point also, the soft-power dimension which is I think is about generative listening, sprituality and intuition. This is the big shift that social brings. Check out C.Otto Sharmer at MIT, he's doing some very interesting work called Theory U which is all about this. @Tom, you talk about determining meaning being hard, I don't think social business design is an alternative to leadership. Organizations with a strong purpose, with vision, that include sustainable social as well as commercial benefit as core to what they do and they way they do things, can make game-changing strides as a result of social business design, and the recipe for that is leadership, either as a one-person artisan or a multi-national. Social business design is a game-changer because having something to believe in - even if it's better efficiency from a utility company or a feeling of more security from a local council - now can matter and the experience is everything, because of the rapid capability we now to connect, that can attract like-minded people to one another, and bind people together in pursuit of a shared reality. If that comes over as a bit zen there's a very rational angle too. In his essay 'Capital, Power, and the Next Step in Decentralization' Yochai Benkler, Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard, suggests that 'Computation, communications, storage, sensing, and capture devices are widely distributed in the population. These, in turn, enable the effective deployment of the other core input into the global information economy—human creativity, wisdom, insight, and perspective.' This means pretty much there's an economic business case that can support this now. Affinity is stronger than structure; that means 'less factory, more feeling', things people can believe in; and that puts culture front and centre within the organizations of the future, as the means of determining meaning.