2013: Democratization of Strategy?

Never before has business been in a bigger flux than today. A world of mobile online connections rapidly replaces traditional information and power structures. Knowledge and creative inspiration is accessible to all of us. Everybody who wants to contribute meaningfully can add his ideas, dreams and convictions for the benefit of the collective. We are a networked society. Are you ready for democratization of your strategy?

Till the crisis of 2008, good management was about financial growth, scale benefits, efficiency and control. Strategy was about focus and direction. Organizations flourished by division of labor, separation of power and other Machiavellian practices. Brand marketing was about luring consumers into a psychological need state of materialism, of more. Sales about closure, show me the money. Everything justified by shareholder value. And then it all came to a big halt.

I believe organizations existing merely for the financial bottom line will disappear. People simply don’t wish to be associated any longer with such meaningless practice.  If there is no authentic and meaningful motive to help create a better more beautiful world, why bother? Such organizations remain thankful targets for social bashing. Just like many of us nowadays do with the giant telcos and financials. Even the large accountancies, consultancies, energy suppliers and social housing corporations have turned into doomed institutions. Money rules.

Is there still hope? I am not so sure for the short term. With current C-suite leadership devoid of appreciation for the arts, adventure and humanity, organizational resistance for transformation will be high. While society has gone fluid, our organizations are still managed based on frigid hierarchical paradigms and conventions. Only when transparency and the new reality are embraced, things can change for the better. 

The networked society will ultimately force a democratization of strategy upon our companies. People, everybody, will be empowered to ask questions, share their ideas and enthusiasm and voice their discontent. Not only employees, but also suppliers, prospects and customers will join the dialogue. Strategy will not be ‘made’ any longer behind closed doors by senior management, but collective intelligence and awareness will drive meaningful behavior and thinking.

It is my professional wish for 2013 that C-suite operators stop with their top-down mission, vision and core value absurdity. That brand management ceases their obsolete positioning statements and brand values nonsense. I hope they are bold enough to join into a meaningful collective dialogue. The good news is that social technology can do just that.

Happy 2013 to all of you. 

Alexander Koene, 31 December 2012