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As NetWork Capitalism unfolds, its implications for companies, individuals, governments and all other constituencies become apparent. Although many consequences still need to be discovered it helps to have a brief multi-perspective introduction to some first round effects.
Entrepreneurs and companies
Entrepreneurs and companies hold the key when it comes to driving progress and prosperity within society. That's why incorporating the six guiding principles of NetWork Capitalism is their first priority. Living up to the six guiding principles allows them to be well prepared for the other changes they encounter as the new reality of NetWork Capitalism gains further momentum.
In the 'New economic paradigm' section several direct consequences for doing business are briefly described. They show that to be successful in the age of high value networks and meaningful stakeholder partnerships is entirely different compared to the bottom-line dominant logic of the past decades.
Doing business in high value networks demands role differentiation. It's not about what you can do for the network, but instead what the network allows you to do. Copying old recipes won't do.
For example, traditional business models, like the buy-make-sell one, are becoming obsolete. A producer or supplier might also become a service provider who leases its products, or those of its (former) competitors, to clients instead of selling them. Or the company might step into the position of a network coordinator with a strong focus on aligning the business and innovation interests of its strategic partners.
Adjustments are not just limited to the business model. Other
modifications that need to be addressed include:
- Instead of a deliberate top down – bottom up approach in which a strategic vision is pushed through managerial and supportive communication channels strategy shifts to the relevant high value networks. There it becomes action-based learning about what is actually happening in the market and the network itself.
- Mission statements must be replaced by dynamic real time stories that continuously inspire the company and its stakeholders. They must provide guidance on how meaningful partnerships can and must be mutually beneficial. Lead by example, not by words.
- Investment programs need to be adjusted to meet the co-creating requirements of innovation driven partnerships within high value networks. Companies, NGO's, governments, suppliers, university labs or financials, they all contribute in their own way. Everyone's added value must be acknowledged, and not just financially.
Entrepreneurs who adopt to this new reality quickly have a huge first mover advantage.
- Highly regarded employee or management behaviour that is dominated by 'excellence in efficient production' or 'maximizing profits' will be replaced by competencies that are needed to enable cooperative collaboration between (future) partners who, at first glance, might only seem to have conflicting interests.
- Company design, work structures and ICT infrastructure are the backbone for making high value networks possible in the first place. They all need to become network-oriented. Current rigidity must be replaced by flexibility. Rethinking security, IT protocol standards and business interfaces is unavoidable.
- Legal structures and common held beliefs on the (re)distribution of company shares require a reset. Doing business via mutual beneficial partnerships demands new variations of shared ownership that move beyond present day solutions like joint ventures.
Connectivity, inclusiveness and democratized information make the collective wisdom and strength of a network of individuals probably one of NetWork Capitalism's most distinctive elements. Especially since each person's has several roles in life, this influence is almost unlimited. Each individual person can step in and participate according to whatever role he or she intends to take on.
In the age of individualism we have forgotten how strong we are when we are united.
The first role that applies to almost everyone is family related. Each mother, father, brother or sister can influence its fellow family members in order to create a better and more meaningful world worth living in. There are countless possibilities to do so: by loving each other, launching family values, choosing what kind of schools to attend, picking certain types of friendships or participating in social or sports events. You name it.
The second role relates to being a consumer. Consumers have several ways to gain and capitalize influence. Off course by making well thought off choices on what and from who (not) to buy. Yet, even more impactful is setting up networks with likeminded consumers. Such a network enables individual consumers to be an advocate, a protester or a participant in meaningful consumer driven innovation. Sometimes even all of them at the same time.
Well managed consumer related networks with large numbers of motivated individuals hold tremendous value. Companies will overbid each other to become involved with these networks.
Although not a new role in many countries, every individual has a democratic right to vote. As a voter there are several ways to have influence. Nowadays not only once every four years, but in many other ways as well. Voters now have the opportunity to continuously monitor political achievements and use networks for agenda setting. All that it takes are several thousand withstanders. Numbers that in the pre-Internet age seemed huge, but are a joke in the age of connectivity and social media.
The larger, more diversified and more connected networks of individuals are, the bigger will be their influence.
But also as the owner of certain skills or knowledge, every person now has the information needed to decide how and where to further develop and deploy its talents. Via which social purpose does he or she wants to become more experienced so to increase its future value? In the age of NetWork Capitalism this doesn't require becoming a union member.
Or think of an art lover who, because of the love for art, has the opportunity to make the beauty and value of art available to others. By setting up networks with likeminded art lovers who also believe that art stimulates self-awareness and interrelatedness, such networks can engage in partnerships with art institutions or artists themselves. Together they can capitalise the social value of art.
The networked society and economy are ready for any kind of engagement by whoever and for whatever social purpose. The only thing is, what's keeping us? Just go do it!
Financial institutions are one the economy's leading enablers. In fact they are social entrepreneurs that play a vital role in making NetWork Capitalism as successful as its predecessor was in its early years. Yet, this is easier said than done. First of all it requires that financial institutions accept their social role and say goodbye to their current profit maximization habits.
Instead of just 'selling money for profit only' NetWork Capitalism enforces financial institutions to become a network facilitator specialised in more than just the financial side of doing business. This new consulting role includes helping companies to rediscover their businesses following the emergency of NetWork Capitalism.
Tomorrows financial institutions make their customers less financially driven and less dependent of traditional financial products and services.
As part of their transition financial institutions should gain in-depth knowledge and become experts on what it takes to deploy meaningful partnerships. Not only for their corporate clients, but especially for the consumer section. This means they should stimulate the emergence of new high value networks. Sometimes in areas unexplored and with partners who never heard of each other until they were introduced to each other.
Soft, collaboration oriented skills are a vital part of the future business models of financial institutions.
Being an enabling network facilitator also requires to reset risk management. This means broadening the current dominant focus on financial risks. By engaging in new partnerships themselves financial institutions should pave the way for a new type of risk management that better suits the intangibles and social value of companies.
And of course, being entrepreneurs themselves financial institutions should lead by example when it comes to investing and participating in new network oriented ventures that aim to create financial value as well as social value.
Gaining credibility in the networked economy demands nothing less than getting involved yourself.
If today's financial institutions neglect the opportunities to participate in and learn from, for instance, first generation circular business models, crowdfunding and the shared economy they ultimately lose their license to operate. They will be replaced by new entrants, most likely established network oriented strongholds, who do understand the curriculum of being a successful (financial) network facilitator.
The emergence of NetWork Capitalism and the characteristics of the networked economy have a huge impact on governments and economic policies. Both will become more complex than even before. Copying governments practices from first generation Capitalism and apply them in the age of NetWork Capitalism doens't work.
First and foremost a government must be absolutely open and honest about what can be expected from her regarding her role in markets and networks.
To begin with governments will have to reinstall their original purpose in order to reassure their relevance in the networked 21st century. In line with what Adam Smith envisioned, this means for instance to revaluate the meaning and value of private property and free entrepreneurship for society. What does it take to guarantee both in an era in which partnerships and high value networks redefine markets? And what can be expected from governments?
The same applies to what can be expected from governments in relation to products and services for which there is a clear public need, but for which markets can't provide the proper solution. What are these public needs in a networked society? How do high value networks relate to these needs? And what would be the government's relation to these networks? Should it participate? Or stay out of it completely?
A mayor adjustment for governments results from the radically changed economic landscape. Governments are used to operate within a relatively limited number of markets. Each of these markets consisting of, in general, a well-defined (limited) number and type of economic actors. The networked economy is completely different. It is fragmented into an unlimited number of markets and networks. Some with only a few economic participants, others with countless.
Given the unlimited numbers of markets and networks it is practically impossible for governments to be involved in all of them.
Other top-priorities for governments are:
- The adjustment of anti-trust policies to enable collaboration via partnerships between entrepreneurs and their stakeholders.
- The introduction of new legal ownership structures that match the required flexibility of doing business via partnerships.
- Updating fiscal policies so they boost the emergence of high value networks instead of subsidizing established industries based on outdated business models.
And last, but definitely not least, governments should lead by example when it comes to participating in high value networks themselves. Especially in networks related to public products and services like High Tech healthcare, basic financial services, smart eco-friendly transportation, liveable cities or renewable energy. There is a growing list of examples that show government plays a vital role in making these type of innovations possible in the first place.
In many cases government's involvement in partnerships doesn't automatically call for financial investments. Providing stable, well thought-out rules and regulations is at least equally important.
The implications described above are only the beginning. They have in common that the emergence of NetWork Capitalism results in collaborative role differentiation independent whether you're an NGO, a university, a professional working with the media, an economist, a farmer, an architect or a shareholder. This means each and every one has the opportunity to redefine its own way of doing business. Most likely, it will boost your life with meaningfulness, fun and love.