The New Middle Ages

the new serfThe firm is born from the principle of pooling means of production, of giving the possibility to give access to resources unavailable to single individuals.

According to Jeremy Rifkin, the reduction in production costs caused by the digital revolution is now paving the way for “makers” and renders obsolete the traditional enterprise, at least according to the definition given by the transaction cost theory. But does this make it a social progress?

The Irresistible Rise of Platforms

During the last decades, the concept of resource itself has dramatically evolved. As multiple means of production are now available to anyone at marginal cost, or even at zero cost, the main problem the company is facing has become the one of accessing the market. In a society tainted by individualism and competition, everybody is now fighting for finding new distribution channels for his own production. The development and flourishing of new giants, such as Uber of the Amazon Marketplace, was a natural consequence. The model they all adopted relies nearly exclusively on a digital platform providing anyone, again at a marginal cost, with powerful global logistics.

If these platforms provide individuals and very small entities with their own production means (it is no coincidence that Amazon lately cares very closely about arts and craft) with strong market exposure, they all share another characteristic: a really strong capital concentration. For example, Uber or AirBnB are private companies owned by a very limited number of shareholders, and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is, by far, the main shareholder, direct and absolute, of the company with more than 17% of equity held. In a world in which the share of the real economy is shrinking day after day, companies have swapped production power for pure financial power.

The Producer, This Middleman

But this model in full development, which combines capital concentration with outsourcing production, is actually far from representing a step forward. The preindustrial firm was built on the hierarchy of roles and the rationalization of tasks, binding the whole around a common “vision” that could be summarized as “give me part of tour production, and I will give you more means to work” with the aim of global efficiency. The industrial company has developed the same kind of structure while compromising the vision, stuck in a gradual financiarization, and became the sick structure we know today, torn between the quest for meaning and a more and more exclusive search for profit, mainly unable to reconcile both terms of the equation. The company-as-a-platform, on the other side, has definitely gotten rid of the ownership of means of production along with the internal vision, bringing it instead directly to the customer using its services.

The theoretical work by Stephen Vargo and Robert Lusch on the service-dominant logic and the practical developments for the firm it gave rise to have demonstrated that an important potential for value creation lies in the interactions between a company and its customers. Undoubtedly, the company-as-a-platform has proved itself to be the most clever in the way it exploits this goldfield. By outsourcing their production, they also outsourced the major part of interaction with their customers. The recommendation and notation systems they have set up (and that was copied by many e-commerce websites, with much less benefit) have allowed them to keep control on the quality of this interaction. Actually, a few negative rankings are sufficient to strike someone off a platform.

The Deprived Human Being

In this context, by outsourcing production means while seizing the customer relationship and the value creation, the large platforms have deprived the individual, the actor-producer, from what was up to now the essence of work, namely participating to the production of a particular and differentiated answer to a precise need with specific competencies. The community of interests that gave meaning to the firm has vanished, replaced by an open market fueled with fierce competition. The human being has become at the same time a product and a tool, interchangeable and consumable according to the expectations of customers and to the needs of the company-as-a-platform. The search for efficiency that characterized the industrial firm, and that, from the set up of rigid hierarchies to the adoption of lean strategies, translated into the optimization of available resources, has been replaced by a search for effectiveness based on the quantity of actors available to the platform.

Where the preindustrial company and the industrial firm could boast about a symmetrical relationship between them and their employees (share of production outcome against means to produce in the former case, production against wages in the latter), relationship whose terms and mutual obligations were formalized in a contract, the company-as-a-platform doesn’t provide any reciprocal commitment, access to market having no guarantee value. This relationship, based upon divergent interests, is in fact quite close to the one that existed during the Middle Ages between feudal lords and serve, when the lord rented his land in return for a part of harvest, while the peasant had no guarantee if the land would give him at least the means to survive.

The company-as-a-platform might without doubt represent the ultimate step for a capitalistic economy and a consumption society. On the other hand, for organizational or human realization matter, it doesn’t deliver any of the promises of a true economy of networks. The infinite amount of knowledge and connections that technology today brings to our disposal should allow us to set up a basis for an enlightened Renaissance, and instead we are diving deep into the darkest aspects of a new Middle Ages, in which data holds more value than work. We are living a really sad world…

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The Age of Ideology

The Age of IdeologyWe are living in a sad world. An hyperlinked world. A networked world. In theory, this should mean unlimited, universal and unrestricted access to information. In our societies, this should mean the rise of enlightened democracies, powered by collective intelligence, geared toward people’s well-being and education. In our businesses, this should mean the birth of learning organizations, as described by Peter Senge in his seminal The Fifth Discipline. Alas, the world we are living in seems to have been overwhelmed by the one of the nastiest characteristics of networks: speed.

To cope with the ever-growing speed at which information is shared and consumed, we tend to oversimplify our messages, reducing most forms of communication to buzzing catchwords. As a result, bits of information collide with each other. By narrating the world in 140 characters sentences, we substitute the violence of images for the subtlety of words, ready-to-think asserting for in-depth questioning. When power or influence is at stake, in order to stand out and get heard in the echo chamber that our environment has morphed into, information, or what’s left of it, leaves place to mere communication, and even worse, to ideology.

Political Ideology

We are now basking all day long in ideology. Politicians and media have mastered the dubious skill of replacing objective information with twisted doctrines. Consider the Brexit, triggered by a referendum for which many arguments were knowledgeably—and recognized as such by its partisans afterwards—false. The ideological, and biased, nature of these arguments was so blatant, and the inability to confront them with the reality so large than the victors flew away from the scene once the result known. Fear of immigration, and negation of the effects induced by a distressed economy were strong enough to drive the vote, but too dangerous to underlie even the most demagogic realpolitik.

Consider also the recent horror of Nice slaughter. Long before Daesh claimed the attack, politicians from all side were heralding its terrorist nature, at a time when no evidence could support their assertion. Apart from Daesh’s claim, there is still today little if not none evidence for what has objectively been the mad act of an alcoholic, violent, and mentally deranged individual. Information? No, ideology. It is far easier to namean external enemy than to deal with diffuse internal problems. It is more comfortable to let people believe that the “nation” is a safe harbor where nothing bad should happen, while we are waging war abroad, in places that, sheltered behind our screens, we can keep thinking of them as abstract.

Corporate Ideology

The corporate world is also saturated with ideology. Growth, efficiency and performance are the master words of our modern economic machines. Growth? We live in the richest societies of the whole humankind history, as Angus Maddisson has shown.

 

Evolution of global GDP through ages

Evolution of global GDP through ages

Subjecting corporate development and flourishing to growth is a dead end, comparable to believing that trees grow up to the sky, unless we look at development along a financial only angle, zeroing out all considerations to people and to the economy of products and services. As Edgar Morin recently reminded us (article in French):

“Profitalibility of businesses is more linked to the quality of immaterials (cooperation, showing initiatives, sense of responsibility, creativity, services and skills hybridization, integration, management, etc.) than to the quantity of materials (financial ratios, equity, stock prices, etc.)”

Efficiency and performance are linked to a “more and more” mindset, to a vision of the world dominated by data and metrics. The “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” business myth — incorrectly attributed to Edward Deming— has been transformed into an even more lethal believing: if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. For the sake of a new god named Big Data, companies are ideologically heading toward a brave new world.

The power of collaborative practices and structures, able to unleash creativity and shared responsibility throughout organizations, is itself paid lip service by many executives who only see in corporate evolution a means to improve the status quo, instead of to trigger a real transformation. As a CEO told me a few months ago: “this is good for boosting my employees’ morrale, but, between you and me, this is mainly communication.”

There is no escape

Ideologies are about dominance, in a subtler way than hierarchies are. Under the pressure of speed induced by networks, they no more bother narrating a conception of the world but present us with an oversimplification of the reality which they force us to believe, eroding any resort to critical thinking. But this kind of mechanism simply doesn’t fit the logic of a world as complex as ours, resulting in tensions and frustration.

In L’éloge de la fuite (that, sadly, isn’t available in English), the French neurophysician Henri Laborit has categorized and described the different behaviors available to human beings when confronted to dominance. The first one occurs when positive outcomes are made possible, and focuses on enhancing these outcomes, mainly in maneuvering to improve our position by playing the dominance game for one’s sole benefit. Growing inequalities, concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a shrinking number of individuals, strengthening of the weight of hierarchies in organizations, are direct consequences of such hedonistic and individualistic behaviors.

When individual gratification becomes impossible, as Laborit stated:

“When confronted with adversity, humans only have three choices: fighting, doing nothing, or fleeing”

But there is no way to run away, as ideologies have for most parts replaced the information flows that nurture our networks, and lean on our emotions to ensure our allegiance. The only responses we are left with are submission (doing nothing), or rebellion. Anguish or anger, so are the choices available to us when trying to resist rampant ideologies, anguish and anger sustained and amplified every day by the nature of the ideologies that surround us and by the message they convey.

Living between anguish and anger cannot be sustainable, even more when one is opposed to the other. Letting these tensions increase will almost mechanically lead us in a world of rising distrust, hate and despair. Is that the world we want to live in?

Faster Is Slower

In The Fifth Discipline that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Senge described what he called the Laws of The Fifth Discipline, an ensemble of fundamental statements that should guide our judgment and actions when applying system thinking. Most of them, such as “Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions” are familiar to anyone practicing design thinking or involved in trying to solve societal problems.

But, in a time when we favor answers over questions, efficiency over precision, another rule we should consider very carefully is the sixth one: “faster is slower”. Our obsession with speed has made us welcoming ideology as a low-cost fast-effect proxy for information. The dictatorship of speed is, beyond terrorism, quest for wealth and power, demagogy, or self-indulgence, what will most surely drive us into chaos.

As long as we deal with technology, reaching the Singularity might be considered as an ideal in some intellectual circles. But when it comes to human, slowing down is no more an option. To stop making the world a worse place, it has become mandatory. It is time we give up racing for influence to begin solving real-world deep problems together, instead of concealing them behind stinking ideologies.

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Design Thinking, or Design Faking?

Design thinking is all over the place. Every large organization claims to use it in a way or another to spur innovation, and every place dedicated to hold seminars comes fully loaded with white boards and sticky notes. A quick glance at Google Trends shows how much searches for design thinking consulting help gain in popularity over time, while the whole “consulting” category is more and more losing its appeal to executives. Yet, despite a sustained keen interest, in most cases, design thinking fails to deliver up to its promise. But are we really focusing on the right approach?

design thinking google trends 2005 2016

Evolution of searches for “design thinking consulting” vs “consulting”

Of Principles and Methods

The core ambition of design thinking was to formalize the process of design, in order to give the capability to apply this principle to all kinds of problems, from product innovation to wicked societal problems. Roger Martin, former dean of the Rotman School of Management, and Tim Brown, CEO of the design company IDEO, have largely contributed to this formalization and helped in popularizing the approach. But this came at a major cost.

For business decision makers, typically non-designers, principles must translate into methodologies to become actionable. Thus, the design thinking principle, defined as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success” by Tim Brown, had been repackaged into the now famous “empathize-define-ideate-prototype-test-and-iterate” mantra to get past the corporate doors.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson beautifully nailed it: “If you learn only methods, you’ll be tied to your methods, but if you learn principles you can devise your own methods..” Grabbing the essence of a principle, experimenting in order to understand its implications, and putting it in practice can prove itself to be a difficult task, especially in the case of an emergent principle such as design thinking. This will quickly challenge many of your assumptions about how work gets done and of your mental models. On the other side, sliding from principles to methods will only get you as far as you already know you can go. In many cases, methods act as a prescription, as a how-to approach that will lead you to tweak the context and prune particularities to fit ready-made models.

By restricting design thinking to a method, however brilliant, conceived as a tool for non-designers, its evangelists have seeded the conditions for failure, as the Stanford d.school itself recognized.

An Approach Under Influence

No matter how useful the “empathize-define-ideate-prototype-test-and-iterate” methodology can be in encouraging and training individuals—who tend to act linearly—to think collaboratively and “out of the box,” this methodology oversimplifies the design process. As every experienced designer knows, this process is messy, made of numerous loops and back-and-forth reasoning. While leaving design to designers in pure proselyte mode may have severe drawbacks, such as what I have called the “guru designer” problem,  summarizing it into a methodology to bring it within everyone’s reach in a corporate environment exposes it to many biases.

The human mind is such that we tend to step back into our comfort zone whenever possible, even (maybe even more) when we are exhorted to do the contrary. In most organizational contexts, this means putting a heavy focus on linearization, simplification, and rationalization, affecting all activities and tasks. Let us consider how this influences every phase of design thinking as a methodology:

Empathize

In our more and more data-driven business world, it is easy to forget that figures don’t tell THE truth. They just tell A truth, the one you want them to tell. Empathy doesn’t grow from data, it comes from the story that lies behind. Building a story from the data you collect from your customers and users is like presenting a mirror to yourself.

To understand the context in which your customers lie, you must walk in their shoes, and fully grasp the job they are trying to get done. You must also be aware that their context is not yours; failing to keep this in mind will make you miss the broader dimensions of the problem you are trying to solve.

Define

Designers do not tackle new problems with a blank mind, they bring to the table their experience, their own beliefs and history of failures and successes. A great designer looks at the real world and makes connections others don’t see, often allowing him to shape an embryonic solution to trigger further inquiry even before the problem has been properly framed, what Bryan Lawson has described as “the primary generator” in his classical How Designers Think – The Design Process Demystified.

More than often, defining the problem is in fact a matter of abductive reasoning, a back-and-forth navigation between the definition of the problem and the set of conditions put up by the context, much more than a statement like “how could we make our product|service|organization more desirable|useful?”.

Ideate

Common beliefs would want ideation to be the easiest part in design. Recall some background (typically the problem to be solved), distribute some pens and sticky notes, and here you go. The problem is that, unless deliberately set up, this approach doesn’t bring you what you expect. Garbage in, garbage out. Ideas are your most valuable assets, and must be handled as so. They must be confronted with your definition of the problem, they have to be part of the solution, to clarify or to extend some aspect of the problem. Even more, the problem has to be challenged by what comes up during your ideation phase, refined by evidence or even totally rethought. In fact, empathizing, defining and ideating cannot be dissociated as you will need to push all these steps further together until you are able to draft a solution. In the design process, the solution is indissiocable from the problem.

Prototype

Where ideation is falsely considered as easy, building prototypes is often viewed as the most difficult phase by organizations, as soon as it doesn’t concern product innovation. The idea of prototyping a service, and even more a system (such as a team structure), beyond drawing a chart on a piece of paper is a daunting task for people who consider play or corporal expression incompatible with corporate etiquette. It doesn’t look serious enough for them.

Yet, embodying interactions through role playing, or feeling physical space with actual size mockups is the best way to learn about what “the real thing” could be and to avoid many mistakes. Being serious about what you are trying to create doesn’t imply being boring or blankly conventional during the process. After all, following a creative process implies … being creative.

 Test and Iterate

In organizational context, almost everything is considered as a project. As a consequence, even in the most agile environment, testing and iterating often translates into “let us build a v0, then we will move to v1, and prepare for v2.” When designing for services or for systems, this approach usually leads to selecting the most important features to build a Minimum Viable Product, then planning for further implementation in subsequent iterations.

Wait… Are you sure that your careful selected features are the ones your customers really care about? While designing, test and iterations mean loading your first version with as many of the features retained during the prototyping phase as you can, in order to learn as much as possible from the real thing. By limiting your initial value proposition, you may ruin all your efforts to understand what your customers and users really need and to provide an adequate answer.

Taking the Daring Path

As a methodology, design thinking isn’t, by far, a panacea to help organizations to transform themselves. Neither is the so-called digital transformation that we keep hearing about day after day. In fact, no methodology will ever be, as they have little more to offer than what organizations are already able to do. Adapting to the uncertain, volatile and complex world in which we now live, requires taking more daring roads, and to relinquish control to be able to experiment with new, maybe disturbing but rewarding, principles without faking.

05/20 update
Design involves bringing into play a complex process. As so, it implies doubt, faith, trial and error, and continuously challenging the assumptions you are building, at macro as well as at micro level. Unfortunately, this leaves very little place for certainties or for “absolute” solutions. By essence, complexity is fractal. More than a methodology, and to be of real help, the “empathize-define-ideate-prototype-test-and-iterate” design thinking metaphor must be understood and used as a kind of “meta-methodology”, as… nothing more than a prototype, requiring to be tested, tweaked or even completely re-invented according to the specific context that is yours.

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Organizations and the Asperger Syndrome

Entreprise Asperger

Our organizations are in bad shape, this is no more a secret. No day passes without this statement being discussed, dissected, both by its causes and its effects, nor without someone stigmatizing the hierarchical and bureaucratic practices of many—too many—businesses, and presenting them as toxic vestiges of the structures that flourished and reigned in an era marked by the Industrial Revolution.

Usually, these analysis end with another statement: our organizations are ill-adapted to our hyper-connected era, and, to survive, they evidently need to transform themselves, to reconnect with innovation dynamics and restore human values. To reach these goals, or at least move forward in the right direction, we don’t lack principles and methods. Very few of them, however, have proven their value beyond the few examples we hear from workshops to conferences. Among the main reasons for what we might call a confession of impotence, we can mention the fact that, indeed, every company is unique, and that one-size-fits-all approaches are doomed. We can also also name the fact that many of these methods are prescriptive, and that we can no more apply ready-made recipes to what must emerge organically than we can decree a culture change.

Yet, although these reasons are decisive in explaining how very little progress has been made in organizational transformation, there is a fundamental question we barely address: do we look at organizations under the right angle? Most of the time, it looks like we consider them as islands, insulated from the rest of the society.

Gary Hamel has recently published a paper called “Top-Down Solutions Like Holacracy Won’t Fix Bureaucracy,” in which he pleads for organizing internal hackathons to develop and test novel ideas inside companies in a bottom-up manner. His approach is virtuous, of course, and highlights prescriptive methods’ inefficiency. But can we even envision defeating bureaucracy?

Bureaucracy is surrounding us, in our institutions, in the governance of our states, of our communities, in the infrastructure of our banks… Bureaucracy constraints and influence all and every corner of our private life, from access to housing to access to work, to healthcare, to education… All of the mechanisms that regulate our society are deeply tainted by bureaucracy, and, in this context, trying to free organizations from its internal hindrances without acting at the whole societal level is similar to trying to empty a goldfish bowl on the sea bed.

Among all evils currently crippling organizations, it might be important to distinguish between those, like bureaucratic pandemia, affect all aspects of human interactions, and those that are specific. This isn’t an easy task, as dysfunctions in all of our institutions are becoming more and more apparent. However, this is the only way we will gain the capability to allow for the emergence of the evolutionary path toward more human-centric organizations, and to cure, in the midst of a sick society, even sicker organizations.

If we consider enterprise as an organism, it is striking to see how much its behavior is similar to that of an individual suffering from what we until recently called the Asperger syndrome.

  • Communication disorders
    How else could we consider the fact that, in organizations, employees are supposed to adopt a different behavior from the one they have in their personal life? How may we explain the lack of appeal to creativity, to intuition, to informal problem resolution that characterizes so many businesses, as those are some core characteristics of human beings, that we express and use in our daily life? The ever-larger trench between corporate communication and behavior and our natural modes of networked communication cannot be easily described as other than pathologic.
  • Socialization disorders
    This is a category under which we find most of the evils of which we accuse organizations, and whose symptoms are strikingly similar to those exhibited by Aspergers:

    • Resistance to change (should we further comment?)
    • Behavioral stiffness, lack of recourse to intuition (pervasiveness of hierarchies and processes)
    • Obsessional fixation on specific domains (excessive financialisation, hyper-specialization of roles)
    • Difficulty understanding social interaction (maladjustment to complexity)
    • Difficulty understanding expectations from the neighborhood (lack of understanding of customers’ expectations)

Of course, considering organizations under the harsh light of behavioral and social anomaly doesn’t bring any answer to the important question of how to change a mostly outdated management model, but it brings up new options we have to consider in our thinking about organizational diseases. As it is the case with any sever psychic disease, you don’t “cure” it, you usually can’t. You rather act both on the symptoms the patient exhibits, to reduce them, and on the relationships between the patient and its environment, to ease them.

Managerial hackathons, as Gary Hamel suggests, lean management, practical application of design thinking or of wirearchy’s principle at the edge, are some of the methods that can help in reducing organizations’ internal disorders. However, they don’t deal with the two other dimensions of the problem: taming the bonds between organizations and the society, and tackling the bigger, wider society-wide problems, such as bureaucracy, that do not pertain to organizations by themselves. The latter are wicked problems, far beyond our reach, and that will, alas, require more than a lifetime to be solved. But how is it that nobody actually thinks of fixing organizations (or at least easing their structural problems) by looking at them from the context they are part of?

Imagine a society in which companies do not play the central role anymore. Part of economical exchanges would be under the responsibility of local and/or decentralized communities. The relationships between work and income would be loosened, allowing individuals to pursue personal projects without being enfeoffed to any organization. Utopia? Not anymore; peer-to-peer and local economy is developing at blazing speed, and the rise of blockchain-based projects such as Ethereum is giving a anew meaning to decentralization; unconditional and universal basic income is on the drawing board of more and more states. The next step, in fact, will be to define a new role of organizations, to benefit from an efficiency built over more than a century, without bearing the hassle of dealing with their autistic personality. This, is our main challenge for the years to come.

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I, Idiot

I IdiotI am a literate internet user. As so, I am pretty connected, and cultivate my networks on a regular basis. This means, I share. I share bits of my life, such as pictures of what I had for dinner yesterday, or clippings of my daily life. I also share what I read, well, in fact I read less and less, so I share first, and will maybe read later. Sharing widgets have made this quite easy, with a single click, I am able to inform my followers about what interests me. Or, at least, about what I stumbled upon. I follow some brands too, just in case they have some kind of discount for me.

As told, I cultivate my networks, including the professional one. Regularly, I ask people to join my network on LinkedIn. The more, the better. And linking social accounts allows me to stay active and to share even more easily. Exposure is key here, as it helps growing my credibility.

I share, but am conscious about my privacy. I am using some ad blockers on my computer, and on my iPhone, as I don’t want to be tracked and be overloaded by unwanted advertising. I…

Oh, wait! From all of the above, I, and millions of people acting the same, should just be called perfect idiots.

Advertising and the Fallacy of Privacy

Privacy, of course, is a real concern. Yet, as broken as it is, the advertising model, whether driven by agencies or directly by organizations, is seeing its days counted. For long, big companies have learned how to show and sell us what they want. Lobbying, packaging, selling practices, are some of the elements from the physical world that condition what we buy and consume.

Furthermore, actors from the digital economy are gathering and mining data in ways that allow them to know things about us that we don’t even suspect. Many of the services we use already operate in a post-advertising world, gathering information about our most mundane habits, incrementally building knowledge about our offline behavior. Even worse, the rising Internet of Things raises more challenges than it gives answers. Your refrigerator knows what you eat, but will you really know who is in control of your grocery list?

The Lost Art of Conversation

Maybe more importantly, our over-sharing mania has obfuscated conversations. Dismissing the most elementary netiquette, we are now broadcasting our private life on every social channel, without caring if this is of any interest for someone. The standard connection-making message on LinkedIn is “I would like to add you to MY professional network,” there is no mention of yours. On this Internet of Me, there is no more room for genuine reciprocal interactions. As internet users, we more and more click to share, with an ever-shorter attention span. As customers and consumers, we want everything faster, cheaper. In a quasi-schizophrenic state, we are urging organizations to listen to us, while, as individuals, we are stifling the very conditions in which innovation and fruitful interactions can flourish.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, there was a time when we shaped the online world. But now, the internet is reshaping the world into an arena of brutal transactions and blind exposure. On enterprise side, the overall inflation of our ego isn’t without consequences. As business owners, we want to sell more, as the lowest possible cost. As shareholders, we want the fastest and highest return on investment. As managers and leaders, we want the most productive teams, the most efficient processes. These behaviors head us to a larger automatization of what we still call “interactions,” but are in fact becoming more and more algorithm-based triggers to action, which in turn lead to fewer jobs and less adaptiveness of business.

There is a thinner and thinner line between “I, Idiot,” and “I, robot.” The growing me-ification of the conversation space, both online and offline, means in fact that we are now relinquishing the responsibility of tackling complexity to machines. “Markets are conversations” was the first these of The Cluetrain Manifesto. Markets are spaces of negotiation, spaces where two-way flows of power and authority take place between involved stakeholders. But when conversations vanish, there is no need for balanced markets anymore. Algorithms will soon be able to decide what we need and want in our place, streamlining transactions along predictive processes. We will end up alone, powerless in the middle of a connected crowd.

A Critical Crossroad

This dystopian near future is not inevitable, but we are heading toward a critical crossroad. Paradoxically, at the same time as we are blindly diving into a downward spiral of high-tech egotism, we are asking organizations to loosen their structure and to listen to us. WE are the customers, but WE are the organizations. It is all of our responsibility to break this vicious circle, and to listen to the voices that plea for more caring relationships. In most cases, organizational blindness is nothing but the reflexion of our own inability to deal with complexity with an open mind. Do not let us subjugate ourselves to the present obsession to “deliver,” whether it be by sharing more, predicting more, or requesting more, but let us reconnect with our human nature, and get meaningful conversations going. The Internet of Me is a lethal decoy, let us build the Internet of Us.

Image By Shao19 (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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