Smarter Companies Think Inside Out & Upside Down

by Jay Deragon on 08/27/2013

insideoutConventional wisdom doesn’t work when markets are inside out and upside down.

The expression inside out and upside down means to invert something, to thoroughly confuse someone or something. At first it seem confusing because to understand it requires a different frame of reference than conventional wisdom. Many business leaders, and their consultants, are trying to apply traditional logic to align business goals with current market dynamics. The problem is traditional logic doesn’t work when the logic of the market is inside out and upside down.

Haven’t you heard people say things like “We’ve got to think out of the box” or ” The market is inside out and upside down”. These are more than cliché’ they actually represent a behavioral change in market dynamics that organizations don’t understand because today’s organizational leaders are ill-equipped to “think inside out and upside down”.  Not only are they ill-equipped they simply don’t understand.

How Does One Think Inside Out?

Thinking inside out is more than just a business cliché. It means approaching today’s marketplace from the stakeholders side of the market and looking back at how the business side of the market behaves towards stakeholders.  It’s about feeling and seeing things from the human perspective and not the business perspective. It’s about recognizing that all those power games, ill-conceived business practices, false promises, poor experiences, deceptive marketing messages and two-faced “human resource” standards are now out in the wide open world wide web where humans share anything and everything with anyone and everyone everywhere.

Knowing this makes traditional thinkers turn inside out and upside down or at least it ought to.

How Does One Think Upside Down?

Power structures have been built around hierarchies for thousands of years as the means for the few wise men to the control the foolish uneducated crowds of people. Such foolish people needed leadership, order and control otherwise they would perish in their own folly. Like fools we simply perpetuated this thinking even when the masses became educated and economies matured.

Today we have organizational and power structures built around people and not the empowered many. The continuation of reliance on the few to lead and control hinders the progress for the many.

Gary Hamel, Author of “What Matters Now” writes: As traditional hierarchies get supplanted by networked, or “social,” organizations, leadership will become less a function of “where you sit,” than of “what you can do.” 

Authority won’t be something that’s handed down from above and it won’t be something that can be captured by a title. Rather, it will be a currency you earn from your peers. Leaders will be the ones who are capable of attracting followers, rather than the folks who have mastered the dark arts of political infighting and bureaucratic wrangling.”

Thinking upside down enables true leaders to recognize their organization has many leaders including stakeholder that exist outside the walls of the organization.

Smarter Companies know that there’s no wisdom in blindly adhering to the conventional wisdom of the past.

See how things have turned inside out and upside down by viewing the deck below.

{ 1 comment }

Dr. Osgood August 27, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Nice perspective! It made me think about how we invite entrepreneurs to plan strategically by starting forward and thinking backwards. Collectively, such perspectives invite a paradigm shift in the way any of think about starting, growing and succeeding in business. If we are to succeed in today’s environment, we must be innovative. Thanks for the article!

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