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Social Business Will Take Us Back To The Middle Ages

I had an amazing day at the Dachis Social Business Summit. I have so much to write about it might take me a few weeks to catch up. Especially after surprise guest John Hagel presented. That was the most insightful 15 minutes I’ve heard in a long time.

I’ve been thinking out loud on this blog about what the future of the marketing org will look like inside companies.This has lead me to wonder about the total reconstruction of corporate organization. I’ve researched a lot of different models but there is one area I never looked to: The Middle Ages.

Douglas Rushkoff, who I wasn’t familiar with but if I was a normal PR/Marketing person I probably would have been, as he is an award winning writer, documentary film maker, media critic and accomplished author. He recently published a new book called Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back (Amazon Link) which we got for free at the summit (see disclosures at the bottom of the post for full FTC disclosure).

Doug, Dachis’ own Lee Bryant and several others referenced the pre-twentieth century corporate driven economies of Western Europe. While this may sound like heresy to many of us American capitalists their point was that we are moving back to a relationship driven economy.  One common theme was that we have entered a time where relationships matter. The network is no longer roads or servers, the network is us and we are people who connect with people.

Our current business climate functions the way it does because in order to achieve scale we have to give up intimacy. The twentieth century belief was that you couldn’t have both. The Internet, in theory, gave us both scale and intimacy but social media has fully delivered on that promise.

What was surprisingly absent from the summit was talk of technology. There was some, but just used mostly as examples not recommendations or even suggestions. The general agreement was that our current technology will look nothing like our future technology, but more important than that was that the technology, while enabling, doesn’t matter. Our current processes, value propositions and especially the way we communicate is about to devolve back to the Middle Ages.

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Photo credit via kennymatic

FTC Disclosure Icons via Louis Gray

FTC Disclosure. I got a free sweatshirtFTC Disclosure. They fed me

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://thecliffgardner.com/ Cliff Gardner

    Doug Rushkoff has quite a few good books out there. I'd recommend “Coercion.”

  • http://www.digitaldivide.posterous.com/ mark tilbury

    Not sure we even have to go back to the middle ages. After WWII we saw, certainly in Europe, the move towards a more collaborative society. For me the last few years has seen us begin to reject the 'global' elements of our life and the shareholder led approacg. In my field, knowledge and intranets, this translates to moving away from faceless repositores and back to relationships and local becoming important. Social business allows large organisations to adopt this 'local' approach, built around communities. In the next few years the social business intranet will become the norm. In the wider business structure this may see stakeholder relationships within organisations become more important (workers, suppliers ect) rather than shareholders. Will this see the rise in fortunes of trade unions, trade associations, employee forums. Maybe not. But certainly those with knowledge and commitment to an industry or organisation have a far greater chance of being heard and involved.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Absolutely Mark and several people referenced organizations much more current, especially those dealing in high immigrant communities.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Great, more reading to add to my list. too many books, too little time.

  • http://www.thoughtfarmer.com/blog/2010/03/15/dachis-socialbusiness-roundup/ Dachis Social Business Summit 2010 Roundup - Intranet Blog - ThoughtFarmer

    [...] New Comm Biz - Tac Anderson [...]

  • http://www.dachisgroup.com/2010/03/social-business-summit-roundup-austin/ Social Business Summit Roundup, Austin « Dachis Group Collaboratory | Social Business Design

    [...] Social Business Will Take Us Back To The Middle Ages by Tac Anderson, Waggener Edstrom [...]

  • http://hareton.myopenid.com/ samuel

    I can't agree more with the aythor of the article I listened to found by http://www.mp3hunting.com SE saying that social business design can address this shortfall by truly understanding the nature of the clients business that its serving, by helping clients to be better connected across strategy, culture and relationships, by dealing with the credibility gap between what’s promoted as benefits and the reality of user needs, and by helping to manage the gap between them that existing management models often create in the middle.

  • Sidkof

    The social group Dachis Business Summit 2010 in Austin, was held last Thursday at the AT & T Conference Center. Our goal was to bring together a variety of people representing different http://frasesparaorkut.us/ perspectives, including business professionals, and digital agencies. In the coming days we will have blog entries from some of our consultants, with their take on specific presentations.

    I know I speak for everyone when I say we had a fun time organization, and comply with all speakers and attendees who made a great day. Here are some blogs, tweets, and photos of the day.

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