The interesting thing about revolutions is that nobody knows they’re happening until they’re over. Up to that point, we get worried about anomalies, and try to get things back to normal.
So it is with centralisation. We have seen it (or often chosen not to see it) in the rise of everything from Napster to the organisation of Al Qaeda. It has been written about by leading thinkers like Ori Brafman and Seth Godin.
Established organisations have chosen to ignore it, to treat it like an anomaly that will disappear as we get back to normal. It won’t, of course.
The major impact will not be on these organisations, with their bloated overheads and addiction to the industrial economy models. Their shareholders will gradually desert them, and they will sink silently from view, the services and products they provided delivered by smaller, faster, more passionate advocates of the connection economy.
The real impact will be on those who choose to remain inhabiting them in the belief that they will be looked after, and that their position gained by being really good at what is increasingly obsolescent will secure their future. It won’t.
In his brilliant book “Orbiting the Giant Hairball“, Gordon MacKenzie tells the story of hypnotising chickens; how if you draw a chalkline on the floor, and point the chickens head at it, it will stay there transfixed. He makes the point that much of corporate behaviour is similar. Policies, rules, protocols, structures. Lines on the floor. He wrote the book in 1996. It’s one of the most insightful, funny, important books relating to business I have ever read.
The point is this. The organisation , even the best meaning one, cannot protect you in today’s (and tomorrows) uncertainty. In a connection economy, its about you and your connections. It’s about understanding, developing and loving your own unique talents. Those that cannot be replicated, or reduced to a job description, or a qualification.
It’s about your insight, creativity and genius. Your willingness to do work that matters, and take risks for. Then it’s about having a purpose, and connection to people who share it. Its about a sense of impact every day, on your own terms, not an annual appraisal on someone else’s. Giving yourself permission, not seeking it from someone else.
If you can do that within an organisation, that is a seriously good result. In any event, and wherever you work, treat it like self employment, because, in effect that is exactly what it is becoming. Huge opportunities, quite scary, joyous and more than a little chaotic. A chance to be you.
The near future belongs to networks of purpose. Decentralised, flexible, low overhead teams of people who share the characteristics of craft – “a marriage of head , heart and hand” in pursuit of shared aims on things that matter to them. The days of “solutions” are behind us, and the requirement for originality with us.
The end of centralisation.
Enjoy the revolution.