How Unconventional Is Your Thinking?

by Jay Deragon on 01/15/2009

Unconventional Business ThinkingConventional business thinking has been focused on producing, distributing, marketing, selling and serving customers with unique value propositions and messages.

Conventional business models have been centered around structured organizational designs aimed at optimizing productivity, controlling cost and improving quality. Conventional business wisdom has focused on selling more at less cost and expand your markets while staying true to your core competency.

Today’s business environment faces many challenges. The challenges include finding, training and keeping talented employees, increased cost of technological advances, adjusting to global competition, shifting market dynamics, the fluctuating cost of money and the list goes on and on.

The impact of social networks on businesses will call for new thinking required to succeed in a connected and challenging world. Today conventional wisdom can’t help you keep pace with the rapidly changing business landscape, and outmoded structures, models and methods can actually lead you to obsolescence and failure. Today, business people have to turn the old rules inside out, upside down, and backwards not only to succeed, but to survive!

The rules of business are changing, the new rules are unconventional. The social web removes all barriers to entry, provides technological mediums at a fraction of historical cost, enables people to work from anywhere at anytime and connects everyone to everything globally, including your customers, at the click of the mouse.

Companies and their leaders that fail to capitalize on the opportunities of the social web will loose market share and ultimately reduced shareholder value. The real sources of future business success will be centered around the knowledge and creativity of how to tap into and use the power of the social web for business purposes. The social web challenges conventional wisdom while providing data, resources and insights to help companies transition to the unconventional wisdom of networks as capital and human resources.

The social web is the future business landscape that could enable businesses to produce much higher returns than conventional business structures and models. Understanding the dynamics of the social web forces businesses to challenge questionable assumptions and much of the conventional management wisdom.

The social web enables businesses to access a global reach of rich ideas and resources. Networks will fuel dramatic changes in business structures and dramatic changes in the idea of collaboration and sharing with unimaginable communities as sources of ideas. Given this access, all kinds of people can get involved in business challenges and “discover gold” from unimaginable sources – via sharing a bit of information.

Unconventional Business Attitudes

Mark Zuckerberg, the 23 year old CEO of Facebook says: “Building Facebook is fun. Part of the reason why this is fun is because we’ve managed to build a team of really smart people who come from different backgrounds and have different experiences and think in different ways. People constantly try to put us in a bucket: are we trying to sell the company? What are we trying to do? What is the business strategy? Whereas for me and a lot of people around me, that’s not really what we focus on. We’re just focused on building things.

When was the last time you came home from the office and said to your spouse “I had so much fun at work today I can’t wait to go back tomorrow”. It would seem unconventional, to say the least. When you consider most traditional business mindsets and their perspective about the “social web” the attitudes reflect a disconnect in understanding. What are the top ten things they don’t understand or simply forgot?

Here is the top ten:

  1. Free Begets Money
  2. You Asked for Feedback
  3. Business Has Gone Virtual
  4. Conversations are Powerful
  5. Relationships Create Economics
  6. The Semantic Web Is Changing Everything
  7. Advertising Doesn’t “Click” Anymore
  8. Your Either Part of or the Topic of Conversations
  9. You Will No Longer Engage rather you will be Engaged
  10. Relationships aren’t for Sale!

What say you?


Michael Pokocky March 28, 2008 at 12:22 pm

The question was asked,”Why isn’t your company (or client) taking advantage of Web 2.0?,” in the New York Times post today by David Pogue.

“The audience loved that one; within seconds, there were 132 responses on the screen in a huge, scrolling list. “Not enough money.” “Don’t understand it.” “No technical resources.” “Not enough manpower.” “No visible return on investment.” “Fear of ridicule.” “Fear of slander.” “Fear of permanence.” “Fear of the public running amok.”

David adds,
“Now then. We all know, intellectually, that no matter what image a corporation tries to project, it’s made up of ordinary people with personalities, insecurities and lives. But because the marketing and P.R. teams work so hard to scrub, control and package a company’s image, the public ordinarily sees none of that human side.”

He concludes,”When a company embraces the possibilities of Web 2.0, though, it makes contact with its public in a more casual, less sanitized way that, as a result, is accepted with much less cynicism. Web 2.0 offers a direct, more trusted line of communications than anything that came before it.” And finishes off with this observation,”you’ll gain trust, goodwill and positive attention. You’ll put a human face on your company. And you’ll learn stuff about your customers that you wouldn’t have discovered any other way.”


Steve Glaiser December 7, 2007 at 2:18 pm

Jay – very insightful!

In fact, your post solidifies a particular concept that is driving the development of one of our components in our product suite. While we are still in stealth-mode I cannot share too much right now. But, I really wanted to echo and agree with you strongly in your discovery and thank you for putting to words something that struck me one day using LinkedIn (first), LinkSV (thereafter), Spoke/Zoominfo (with reluctance), Plaxo (much later), and Marzar (very recently)! 🙂

Oh, and, “I had fun at work, today.” 🙂

Tom Fraley November 25, 2007 at 9:49 am

In addition to this blog and Terry’s comment: most of todays online communities are very loosly connected with no mutual vested interest. The true power for social networks/communities comes not only with mutual interest but mutual gain. When a community works together toward a common goal with shared benefits, the community will take on a life of it’s own.

This is the goal of this community I am starting at

Hope to see you there!


Terry Bean November 25, 2007 at 9:04 am

I heard in a presentation the other day that in the world of “You 2.0” it’s all about who you know. In the world of “You 3.0” it’s all about how you’re known. The Social Web is certainly the catalyst for driving that.

With our ability to sit, surf and learn both individuals and companies need to be ready to be approached with all kinds of amazing ideas. So many companies are still thinking that they have the best and the brightest around them. How simple. The best and the brightest are great, but made even better when infused with a new idea, or thought.

I think it would be a fun experiment to gather 10 really sharp people, put them in a room and give them the task of “If I ran GM, I would…” 3 hours later I am sure you would have some great turnaround ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I understand there would be some crap too. I just think that’s an unconventional approach.

Thanks Jay!

Michael Pokocky November 20, 2007 at 7:54 pm

What was conventional has become unconventional and what was unconventional has become conventional and every permutation and combination in between.

It will be interesting to see the light at the end of the tunnel because that is when there will be real stories to tell. Right now we’re all forecasting and making leaps of faith but that’s alright because at least the conversation is going and it will lead us to clarity and understanding at some level.

Jim Mathieu November 20, 2007 at 7:34 am

Thanks Jay. I’m in.

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