It’s rather interesting to ponder how, over the course of years, us, consumers, have been asking traditional industries to move on with the times and enter the 21st century (of the Digital Era), so that they could embrace and apply different business models, than those they have been operating under over the course of last few decades, to make themselves profitable again, in order to meet, at the same time, their potential new reality: a smarter, interconnected, mobile, always-on consumer force.
Of particular importance and relevance is the massive fight the Entertainment Industry has been putting together all along, where, instead of making that transition, it has consistently made things even more complicated and worse for their main constituents, i.e. us, consumers, to the point where they have tried, repeatedly AND unsuccessfully, to even criminalise both our behaviours and ourselves for something that in most cases is even part of our constitutional rights: that one of sharing our culture with others.
The fact they have never succeeded is perhaps a good indicator of how things may have changed in the last couple of years as they are starting to come to terms with the fact that they no longer control us (they never have) and that, instead, they would be much better off eventually handing over such control towards those who seem to know better not only what we are consuming, but also how, with whom, when, where and for what purpose we are consuming that particular piece of content.
Some times you eventually need to have some trojan mice. People who can disrupt the system from the inside out strongly enough to provoke a stir and continue to challenge the status quo. Specially, if you keep seeing how very little things have changed from the outside after all of this time. Essentially, no matter how many zillions of times people may be telling you about needing to change and adapt with the new times, stubbornly enough, you keep moving your own way ignoring those wise words of wisdom. Till it might be just too late.
Well, Kevin Spacey is the trojan mice of the Entertainment Industry. A few days back, he gave one of the most inspiring, noteworthy, and refreshing speeches (for the keynote James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival) that I can remember in a long while. So much so that it was one of those rather mind-blowing dissertations that you would probably watch this year in terms of taking upside down an entire industry that kept refusing to move on with the times and that, eventually, will need to give in and relinquish control to that group they wanted to the least… their audiences. At the risk losing them, for good, otherwise.
Now, as usual, I am not going to spoil the contents of the nearly 5 minute long highlights that have been shared on this YouTube video clip about Spacey’s speech, I would rather encourage you all to take a look, watch it through in its entirety and then make the switch into a pure corporate environment and you will see how scarily accurate it is in terms of seeing that reluctance from various different industries to enter the Era of Open Business, the so-called Connection Economy:
My favourite quote, you may be wondering, right? Well, without any doubt, this one:
“And through this new form of distribution, we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson the music industry didn’t learn: give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it and at a reasonable price and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it.“
Or also this other one that I am sure would resonate with those folks who have been following this blog for a while, as we have talked about this very same topic on a rather regular basis over here. To quote:
“[…] It’s all content. It’s just story […] And the audience has spoken. They want stories. They are dying for them. They are rooting for us to give them the right thing. And they will talk about it, binge on it, carry it with them on the bus, and at the hairdresser, force it on their friends, tweet, blog, Facebook, make fan pages, silly gifs, and God knows what else about it. Engage with it with a passion and an intimacy that a blockbuster movie could only dream of. All we have to do is to give it to them“.
I guess folks would now understand why I am such a big fan of services like Spotify and, most importantly, I suppose now people would understand as well how change in the (Digital) Era of Open Business, most of the times, doesn’t just necessarily need to come from the outside, i.e. from those outsiders who seem to know better than you what you are doing on a daily basis as part of that business transformation. Some times, it’s just right there, inside, right beside you, watching over your shoulders, …
Thus, do you know who your trojan mice are? Can you find them within your own organisation and empower them to become those catalysts of change, pretty much like Kevin Spacey has done for the Entertainment industry?
In case you haven’t, hurry up. You are running out of time. You may as well start looking around right away, as they may already be disrupting your business, without you not knowing it …
Remember, they are now in control…
One of the things that I got to appreciate quite a bit during the course of the summer vacation I took earlier on this month was having the opportunity for doing plenty of reflective thinking and one of the recurring themes that came up over and over again was that one of Leadership and how the role leadership itself is being transformed, in a now more complex than ever (business) world, thanks to the significant impact of digital technologies. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while would remember how much of a big fan I am of concepts like Servant Leadership, but there is one type out there that’s been there for a while now and which I am finding rather inspiring in terms of describing the emergence of a different kind of leader: Situational Leadership® (Paul Hersey).
Inspired by Kathy Sierra (Who by the way is now back into the Social Web as serious pony with some stunning blogging coming along as well) I put together, what today, still remains as one of the most popular blog entries over here in this blog: Social Business – Where Bosses and Managers Become Servant Leaders, where I reflected on the changing role of management into leadership in today’s complex world. Fast forward to 2013 and that assessment is probably even now more accurate than ever. I am not sure what you folks would feel about it, but I am starting to think we are witnessing perhaps one the most profound, deep and impactful crisis in Leadership in our entire human history.
If you look into the world today, not just the business world, by the way, but the world in general, you would see how there is a massive crisis in terms of both Management and Leadership. Look around you and see where we are with today’s financial econoclypse, the various different unjustifiable war conflicts, the abundance of corruption and fraud (All the way to the top spheres and across the board!), lack of morals and ethics, the so-called NSA protocol, you name it. If anything, you would probably be able to say that we don’t have much of a world leadership going on at the moment. Quite the contrary. I’m starting to think that we got stuck in that 20th century model of tailorism / management (The Hierarchy) in a world that has clearly demonstrated it cannot longer by managed. It never was. If anything, it can only be facilitated and lead accordingly (The Wirearchy).
Steve Denning all along has been talking about how the business world needs to make that leap of faith and push forward for that transformation of today’s workplace with Radical Management. According to him, we are nowadays experiencing the Golden Age of Management. To me, this is bigger. Much bigger. We are probably witnessing, in the flesh, the perfect storm of how Management is going to transition into Leadership provoked, more than anything else, by that massive disruption of knowledge stocks no longer cutting it and instead transitioning into knowledge flows in order to survive into the 21st century. The scarcity of information for better decision making that used to be in the hands of the few is now transitioning into that massive free flow of information and knowledge that’s helping inspire a new generation of leaders: situational leaders®.
Interestingly enough, situational leadership is not a new concept. It’s been with us for 30 / 40 years already and I am finding it rather intriguing how it’s now making the rounds 30 years later, and well into the 21st century, to describe not only the role of the leader, but also the role of the follower(s). In case you may not be familiar with the concept, here’s a short description of what it is like, taken out from Wikipedia:
“The fundamental underpinning of the situational leadership theory is that there is no single “best” style of leadership. Effective leadership is task-relevant, and the most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the maturity (“the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness and ability to take responsibility for the task, and relevant education and/or experience of an individual or a group for the task”) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence. Effective leadership varies, not only with the person or group that is being influenced, but it also depends on the task, job or function that needs to be accomplished“
I am pretty sure that after you have read that excerpt the first thought that may have come to your mind would probably have been this one: “Oh, yes, I, too, can certainly be a situational leader (at times)”. In fact, you may as well have been all along a few times without not noticing, right? Whereas if you think about Management the whole equation changes quite a bit. All of us can certainly be situational leaders at some point in time, in a specific context and scenario, but if I were to ask you whether you could be a manager the answer would probably vary. Naturally.
That’s why I am finding all of these conversations around Leadership in today’s interconnected, hyperconnected, smarter world than ever, through digital technologies, more fascinating than anything else. Specially, from the perspective of how every single person out there seems to have an opinion about what leadership should be really all about. So, to that extent, while I was going through that thinking time, I decided that from here onwards I am going to start talking over here, in this blog, about some of my favourite reflections around leadership, that others may have shared across already, and its key paramount role in today’s complex (business) world that I have bumped into over the course of time.
Essentially, what I will try to aim at is to eventually hint, perhaps, a new kind of Leadership. That one that would thrive in an Open Business world. Yes, indeed, you know where I am heading. Just like I have made the transition, earlier in the year, from Social Business into Open Business, from here onwards I will move along with a follow-up transition from Leadership into Open Leadership, where I will try to decipher and reflect, every now and then, how both Servant Leadership and Situational Leadership fit in together in terms of how we need to keep pushing, by challenging the status quo, the traditional hierarchy, understanding that while there may well still be a role for traditional (senior / executive) management out there in today’s corporate environment, we may have run out of steam with it altogether, because as Don Tapscott quoted a while ago: “Business can’t succeed in a world that’s failing“. And we are failing pretty badly right now.
And talking about Don himself, I thought I would go ahead and share over here a short video interview he did recently around “A New Model of Leadership” where he doesn’t quote situational leadership per se, but he gets to describe it pretty well on what it would look like in today’s business world dominated by the Social Web:
And, finally, I thought I would finish this initial blog post on the topic of Open Leadership pointing out another video clip that I bumped into earlier on this year, and that, although a couple of years old already, it provides a very good entry point in terms of what would be the main differences between Managers and Leaders. The video was put together by Scott Williams and lasts for a bit over 5 minutes. It’s totally worth it and I can certainly recommend you go through it to understand how and where the shift needs to start happening, if not already, as we move onwards and transition into a brave new world of uncertainty, perseverance, resilience, coherence and, finally, complexity. Essentially, a more human world:
One of the really interesting things in the world of social networking is how every now and then you bump into a specific resource, an online video clip, a blog post, a mainstream news article, a dissertation or whatever else, that is just so thought-provoking and rather mind-boggling in challenging your own notion, experiences, know-how, skills and expertise on the topic of social networks that surely makes you think about your own experiences twice, to the point where it makes you pause and think, really well, whether you are doing it right or not (and whatever that means with “doing it right“). Gary Hamel calls it “changing the way we change“. I call it growing-up, although my notion of growing-up is a completely different kind of growing-up than the one Euan Semple blogged about just recently as well. Indeed, welcome to the disturbing world of Loneliness!
Euan, in a rather inspirational short blog post, puts together all of his hopes around the Social Web (and our societies, for that matter) on those people who “are brave enough to be naive, foolish, enthusiastic, and open – because maybe that is how real grown ups should be?“. I would put my hopes on those, too, although I would also include those who are always open to exercising plenty of critical thinking, in a constructive manner, of course, but always willing to challenge the status quo to help us move forward, to progress further, to grow, to keep learning, to understand how we should strive for avoiding becoming a commodity and thrive in the new Creativity Economy (Yes, another economy to add into the mix) as empowered knowledge (Web) workers.
And then you bump into absolutely stunning video clips like the one put together by Shimi Cohen on the Innovation of Loneliness (Vimeo link, if interested) that starts off with a rather evocative and refreshing question that I doubt most of us out there on social networks have ever even dared to ask ourselves: “What is the connection between Social Networks and Being Lonely?“
I am not going to spoil the contents of the video for you. Not even going to give you a teaser or two, like I typically do to entice you all to go and watch through it. This time is different. This time I am too shocked to even muse about what I thought about some of the key messages coming through after I watched it. It’s a little bit over 4 minutes long, and it’s one of those wonderfully troubling videos that would not leave you indifferent. On the contrary.
It will help you question, and big time!, not only your own notions of what social networks are all about, but the role we all play in them. I can tell you that after I watched it I just couldn’t utter a single trend of thought that would be meaningful enough to share across other than “WOW!! Is this really where we are heading with our very own social networking experiences out there on the Social Web? Please tell me it isn’t. Please tell me we are aiming higher, bigger, better, because otherwise I know we are going to be in trouble, in deep trouble altogether“. If not, judge for yourselves on what I mean and watch through the video clip itself below. Let me know what you think in the comments. Yes, I know, I’m, too, still coming to terms with it myself on how brilliantly poignant it is altogether: