Power Is In The Network Not The Person

by Jay Deragon on 02/13/2013

resist persistsPopularity can get you a large “network” of influence. Popularity creates power but more power rest within the network than it does from individual popularity.

The media of days gone by controlled power through their influence. The power they held, and in many cases still do, was created from controlling the distribution of information.   The media followed the industrial era of organizational models that designed control at the top. Power was controlled by the few and the power over distribution of information created the power of influence.

Today power is shifting from a person or organization to networks. Decentralized information perpetuated by individuals flows from the center to decentralized points of control. It is the decentralization of information and distribution to smaller nodes that creates the real power of network influence.  This shift represents a change in organizational design and in the mechanics of represented power.

The Old Resist And The New Persist

I’ve been involved in many consulting projects centered around helping organization improve. Improvement requires change and change is difficult for those whose power is vested in the old way.

Any organizational improvement initiative requires  gathering and assessing as much data about the organization as is available. Using formal and informal surveys of the employees and a sample of the customer base, comparing the orgnizations performance data against their competitors and of course examining the financials and the culture.  Then it typically involves interviewing management to determine how well they really know or understandd the companies performance.

Management assumptions rarely match what the data clearly says. As soon as they realized their assumptions are wrong and lots of change will be required to improve quickly they begin resisting and the power plays came out like fans during the Super Bowl.  Ultimately unless the leader stands up against the resistance at all cost the resistance wins and everything goes back to the way it was or worse. But the win is temporary.

Sooner or later good people leave bad companies for good companies or they form their own company.  The people include employees. suppliers and customers. Customers leave and go to better companies.  People persist in the pursuit of better experiences, products, services, partners and work.  The part that the old mindsets don’t get is that better is not a selfish perspective rather it is a perspective about value.

When you enable people to have more control over how they can contribute the more value they produce for you and themselves. The Social Era economics is about enabling networks to create more value collectively than individually. It doesn’t happen when you try and control the networks function or purpose. It happens naturally.

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