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Broken Business Models

Forbes has several articles on the many changes that are disrupting business models. I posted on this subject last year, Why Do Good Companies Fail?

We all know the thinking (ego), it goes like this, it won't happen to us, we're not like that. Denial. Is there a twelve step program, like AA, for people in businesses, organizations, goverenments to help them change?  Anyway, people in businesses are all about control, whcih is the kiss of death today. I'm talking about trying to control other people and events. Something so primal that it drives us crazy. Judging from my latest indicators: sales of alcohol and mind drugs (antidepressants, antianxiety, illicit ones) are up so I'd say the transition is not going well.

In Learn, Change or Die the perscription to change is about connecting with people on a personal level. Yep, feelings matter. Cringe! Huh! What can I learn from AA Traditions? A lot! Think open source. We've adopted several great ideas from AA that we use.

I find all this talk about change fascinating since what we aim for with our services and tools brings people together on a more personal level.  I wrote a post, Purpose Driven Social Network Software, where I mentioned the biggest obstacle - FEAR - facing social networks and collaborative tools in organizations.

Follow me here. MALCOLM GLADWELL, author of "The Tipping Point and "Blink" has a book review of, "Why?".  The author of "Why?", Charles Tilly, sets out to make sense of our reasons for giving reasons. Go read it, I'll wait.

Tilly writes, "Effective reason-giving, then, involves matching the kind of reason we
give to the particular role that we happen to be playing at the time a reason is necessary."

My point is that in most organization we write and speak in technical terms and codes.  We don't write stories, because, "... they circumscribe time and space, limit the number of actors and actions, situate all causes “in the consciousness of the actors,” and elevate the personal over the institutional." In a business context, this would be seen as a lack of due diligence and as being disrespectful of the organization.

Ok, breath.

From Forbes:

"Managing in chaos

The great challenge of our era? Get companies to change quickly enough to survive a world that's crazier and riskier than ever.

Managing amid the chaos has become the central problem for companies of every kind. It is a predicament that arises from the very nature of today's economy. And the solution requires a retraining not of skills but of mindset and assumptions. The biggest challenge has less to do with corporate strategy or management structures than with the nature of human beings and our instinctive reactions to change.

Firms that have found ways to survive and thrive in the chaos hold valuable lessons. Paradoxically, many are meeting chaos with chaos, loosening controls, sometimes radically, while guiding the company in innovative ways."

Rethink Your Business
Business models live shorter lives these days, but there are ways to get
comfortable with chaos. A sampler:
Tough talk
Force a conversation on how the company will have to operate differently
to be successful two years from now. Otherwise everyone dwells on today's
successful products.
Yellow flags
Pay close attention to what your sharpest, most mobile customers are doing.
They're your early warning of business-model problems.
Remodel early
Start changing your business model when you're most successful. When you're
in trouble, it's too late.
Abandon yesterday
Maintaining what no longer works draws your most valuable resources away
from your No. 1 job, creating tomorrow.
A new, improved story line
Explain the company's changes within a larger context. Employees, investors,
customers, and suppliers are more comfortable with change when it's presented
as part of a story line.

With chaos there is always tension and too many of us are looking for comfort zones. I seriously doubt that many businesses will survive the anges.

Here are a couple of bonus links: "Thriving on the edge of chaos", "Motivating others: why "it's good for you" doesn't work", and "Age Before Beauty". The last one is from Malcolm Gladwell. He gave a talk about the phenomenon of prodigies and late bloomers in art. The event was part of the New Yorker Nights, a series hosted by the Columbia University Arts Initiative and The New Yorker.