By Michael Strelcheck
On the surface it may seem as if the American Dream has stalled out. Although most communities have recovered (to varying degrees) from the great recession of 2008, people in general are feeling economically frustrated, unhappy and left behind. We can clearly see this in our current political cycle, which reminds many of the tumultuous times of the late 1960’s. Back then it was unhappiness and frustration over the Vietnam War. Today our country’s unrest is centered on economics and its disparaging distribution of wealth. This condition reflects a type of “systemic failure” in the American engine of prosperity and the results of that have inspired an “economic revolution” to begin. This revolution is not readily noticeable, for it’s not like the revolts of old, where something is overthrown or burned down. It’s a new type of revolt, one that changes things not through violence but through creative innovation!
Due to decade’s long economic inefficiency in our country and the often ineffective serving of local communities’ needs, an amazing transformation has been occurring right before our eyes. This change began a while ago, appearing first as a new type of business model (a web business) born from the technology boom of the 1980’s. Back then few individuals saw the computer industry as culturally changing (I thought its best application would be for video games like Pong). Little did I know that computer systems would lead us to brave new horizons.
The economic revolution has begun to overwrite the long-time core economic principle of our free market system, that being competition. Competition in business has long been considered a dual edged sword, for on one hand it causes things to become more efficient, thus cheaper, but on the other it also tends to eliminate smaller businesses, those who don’t have the money or assets to compete with larger corporations like Walmart, for example. Remarkably, competition now seems to be shifting its expression and is helping to stoke the revolution. With the onset of the computer era, with its internet and its linked-in communication networks and systems, there has manifested in the business community an expanding “competitive drive” towards integration and automation. As those businesses become more integrated, they find that competition simply doesn’t work in an integrated system. So, in a very real way, the technological era and its advances have sounded the death knell of competitive business practices.
The ever expanding technological field, inspired by higher user rates, created “cloud technology,” which is a shared memory asset that’s rapidly becoming a “must” for any size business, organization or individual. At first, the idea of shared data seemed scary, for it attacked the time honored economic tradition of competition and its tenet of having only one winner, who earns the right to be the dominant economic force in its field. But new corporate platforms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon have become wildly successful (rapidly eclipsing old combative corporations) through “innovative cooperation,” sharing data rather than becoming direct competitors. New businesses willingly share ideas, information and data that help all linked-in businesses succeed!
As an example of the potential that shared information offers; Tesla automotive recently willingly shared a patented technology of theirs to help speed up the development of more powerful batteries for cars. “Tesla will make its patents available to anyone who wishes to see them for zero license fees,” Forbes Magazine. In the world of business this action cannot be expressed in any other term than – revolutionary! This pivot in business thinking could be described as a shifting from a competitive to a collaborative mind-set, while still retaining the creative entrepreneurship of the existing system. Although this shift in business philosophy is very new, its runaway success insures that the concept of active collaboration is here to stay.
How does this help the individual who is feeling left out, without a pathway to prosperity? In time the new spirt of “integrative business” will change the fabric of our society by providing to all an access to collective prosperity. The economic revolution is recognizing that it is the consumer and their needs that lead to its success. Integrative intelligence realizes that if their customer is doing well and being served efficiently, then they, as the business that is doing the serving, will also do well. Although this may be thought of as wishful thinking, recent service innovations by Web business, like WORKFORCE, Labor Ready and Uber, validate that they know consumers are out there and that they are reaching out to help.