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I think Nilofer Merchant may have discovered the root cause. Apple people and Google people and Microsoft people have not bought these vendor's products; they've bought their vision. In 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra, Nilofer Merchant writes:
The social object that unites people isn't a company or a product; the social object that unites people is a shared value or purpose. Purpose is a better motivator than money. Money, while necessary, motivates neither the best people not the best in people. Purpose does.
This is true for your employees and it's equally true for your customers.
Apple's value is elegant, seamless solutions. They've chosen to do it in a relatively "closed" way, which is what annoys the Anti-Apple people. Apple products don't do everything but what they do, they typically do well. Google products, by comparison, are "open" and that's great. But it also means that apps look different from one another and integrate with different levels of elegance. Microsoft products have never claimed to be elegant; they're workhorses. Business runs on Microsoft. You know sharepoint is a mess but you also know it'll be supported in the years to come. You and your IT folks may explore alternatives but, in the back of your minds, there's always this idea that Microsoft will still be there and maybe your alternative won't.
Brand loyalty comes from this shared purpose between vendor and client.
We've moved into the social era, and I don't think we'll be switching back to more walled-in modes. Transaction costs used to make formality valuable in organizations but many of our transaction costs have been dramatically reduced by social era technologies and practices like smart phones, social network sites, electronic job boards, and crowd sourcing. Our expectations have also shifted given that greater transparency in some organizations is letting us see the possible across all organizations. People, technology, and organizational processes are shifting.
Have you already come to understand how these changes will affect your own work and organization? Have you begun to make adjustments? Whether or not you have, you need to read 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra.
The book itself is of the social era. Nilofer looked broadly for her sources and feedback. Harvard Business School Press published it as an ebook with an option for an expanded print version. This is the new world of publishing and is just the beginning of how our learning, creating, and organizing will change in the #socialera. (See chapter 4 for examples ranging from Stanford to Singularity U.)
Key to this work are the ideas that :
1. Scale an be achieved through communities.
2. Consumers can be sources of value creation.
3. Purpose can become an alignment system.
Important to my own research and advising is that "work is freed from jobs." Nilofer notes that:
"the social era rewards those that can bring together a herd of gazelles, by which they can be fast, fluid, and flexible. What we reward in the social era is being connected to customer insights and acting with relevance in what we produce and deliver."
Our organizations and how we function within and across them is shifting. There is value in being open with your ideas and an understanding your "onlyness" and the "onlyness" of those around you. Onlyness includes the skills, passions, and purpose that only you bring to the situation. There is still benefit to being individually unique, skilled, and motivated... But it is also important that others understand what you bring to the table. Saving an idea until you can reap individual credit may actually mean your idea has less value. Nilofer offers:
"Instead if holding an idea in a closed fist, hold it out in your open hand. Someone can see or understand ideas held in a fist only in the little parts visible between your clenched fingers. An open hand gives your idea space to get bigger. Held in an open hand, treated like a living thing, it can grow, it can spread, and it can be picked up by others and made into something that will touch many lives."
Use this book to stetch your fingers and to help others relax their grip.
11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era
I know and respect Nilofer, so take that into account. On the other hand, if you read this review and hate the book, that reflects on me, and I'm very well aware of that as well. These are some of the issues that arise when you start taking social into account. It's not straightforward, and the book provides a useful roadmap for navigating some of these issues. It also includes a number of very practical exercises that you can work through to apply the ideas that are discussed.
If you're grappling with the implications of the increase in the interconnectedness that is driven by the internet, then this book is essential reading.