Social Changes How & What We Think

by Jay Deragon on 04/11/2011

Today’s youth represent a model of thinking that conventional businesses, and the adults that run them, can learn a lot from.

Today’s youth understand the power of technology and how to use it to converse, create and collaborate. The social web has become their playground for creativity and conversations. Email is no longer the preferred means of communicating.

The youth see and think about our world differently than do most adults. Today’s youth are enjoying and creating their world through conversational rivers about anything, everything and everyone. Their methods are unconventional.

Indoctrinated by past learning methods, business environments and old rules, most adults reject unconventional wisdom and related ideas that don’t fit into the mental models learned from the past. However, history has shown that innovation and creativity is what creates new markets, new rules and new improvements that can significantly change conventional thinking and entire markets at the click of a mouse.

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 our perceptions and our actions. 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 much higher educated individuals 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 their people. Peter Senge says We are at the frontier of the reinvention of the prevailing system of management .

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 see and learn things.


Robert Sanchez April 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Hi Jay, I sincerely enjoyed your viewpoint on the youth of today and their methods for communication. Social media has changed the way many of us communicate, but not as much as it has changed that of the youth of today. My company, Cherple, allows parents to keep in touch with their children regardless of their phone capabilities, making it easier for both parties to stay connected, including the non-smartphone technologies that many parents utilize daily. this social community is perfect for helping family and friends share photos, videos, music and experiences. I hope to read more about your interesting take on social media!

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