A Required Change in Thinking

by Jay Deragon on 02/01/2011

Technology is changing faster than anyone can imagine never mind keep up with the relevant implications. As technology changes so must out thinking because the changes created by technology is changing how markets operate.

Indoctrinated by past learning methods, business environments and old rules, most adults reject unconventional wisdom.  Subsequently related ideas that don’t fit into the mental models learned from the past are also rejected. Ever wonder why many organizations simply can’t get their heads around the implications of social technology?

History has shown that innovation and creativity is what creates new markets, new rules and new order that can significantly change entire markets at the click of a mouse.  Change at the click of the mouse is by itself the innovations that is and will continue to disrupt conventional thinking.

W. Edwards Deming once wrote, ” We live and work in a prison. Working hard within this prison produces nothing. We cannot remodel the prison. We must get out of it. To do this a transformation in thinking is required.” In his many presentations he used to repeat the phrase “There is no substitute for knowledge.” Furthermore in his book The New Economics he says: “Knowledge is built on theory” and “Without theory experience has no meaning. Without theory, one has no questions to ask. Hence without theory there is no learning.” In other words to learn we need to reflect the discipline of identifying and challenging the theories that underpin conventional wisdom. Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.

Most of today’s business leaders are trying to put the social web into perspective using past mental models and the media reports these collections of thought and the majority agree. Mark Twain once said “ Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform”. Maybe today’s business leaders need to get out of the “prison of their own mind”.

The Challenge

Much of today’s prevailing business models focus is on the return from investment and the control of labor. Control of markets, information, media etc. etc. has been the aim of self defined power. But society has changed, we now have  with greater access to world-wide knowledge and freedom to connect to people, one to one to millions.

Successful organizations of the future are going to be those that learn and leverage the dynamics of the social web and who have developed a skill in unleashing the full potential of the human network. Peter Senge says We are at the frontier of the reinvention of the prevailing system of management .

This reinvention will be fueled by the power of a connected world without borders and a web that is open, seamless and free. The power is shifting to the individual self organized into swarms with affinity and influence. No one individual is in control rather the conversational rivers control and ignite the influence. The power is not self defined rather a phenomena created out of collective relationships and subsequent conversations, a self developed and self organized community.

Scott Peck (Author of The Road Less Traveled) says “We build community out of crisis and we build community by accident, but we do not know how to build community by design. The design of the new global community is self evident, self developed and self governed. The systems that define our community, our work and our life are developed at the intersections of technology and human interaction which shapes our learning. We learn best from one another and the social web has ignited learning from conversations, one to one to millions.

For business leader to learn they must be willing to recognize that the future is not necessarily a reflection of past thinking rather it is created by thinking new. Will you and your business be blind-sided by the waves of change swelling around you? Everyone has the ability to change how and what they think but it means letting go of the past thinking and learning the new.

The social web affords us all the help we need to change how and what we think. What and how we think attracts what and how we think if at first we recognize that changing how and what we think is a requirement to survive in the 21st Century.


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