I have been feeling that we are indeed at a point of paradox where a new and better world is in sight just as we see the world of corporate power and alienation at its most powerful.
The new is no longer a theory. Companies such as eBay, Amazaon, Southwest are eviscerating their traditional competitors. Bottom up organizations will replace command and control, where ever it exists - in business, in politics, in government - everywhere. Community will be the organizational structure and where power will reside. Open Source will be the organizational model. The new is now inevitable. For those who lead organizations the time to decide has come. Do you vainly defend the indefensible or embrace the world to come?
Trippi is no theoretical opportunist. He, like Paul on the road to Damascus has been transformed by an experience. Trippi's involvement in the Dean Campaign has taken him outside of the Cave, he can tell us about the new reality as he has experienced it and like all those who have been touched by powerful forces he speaks with a passion and with a power that comes from knowing that he has felt the truth.
His words speak more eloquently than I can:
"In that way, Dean for America is a sneak preview of coming attractions - the interplay between these new technologies and our old institutions. The end result will be massive communities completely redefining our politics, our commerce, our government, and the entire public fabric of our culture.
For ten years, it has been the dawn of this movement. Now it has arrived For years we've seen the Internet as revolution in business or in culture. But what we are seeing - at its core - is a political phenomenon, a democratic movement, that proceeds from our civic lives and naturally spills over into the music we hear, the clothes we buy, the causes that we support.
What this democratizing means for American business is that they have a choice now: embrace a more open, responsive era or make a doomed stance against progress. Cling to the old top down structure, or radically reinvent the way that you do business. The companies that survive, prosper and thrive in this new age will be the ones that respond to the three demands that this movement will make of corporate America:
1. We want business to empower consumers
2. We want corporations to be responsive to shareholders
3. We will only tolerate companies that are good corporate citizens"
""The companies that will thrive - the companies that are thriving - are those that embrace the bottom up nature of the Internet culture. The companies that make the turn will be those that figure out how to empower their customers to have a say in the products that they buy and use.............
I'll give you an example of how this could work.......... Ford Motor Company: the venerable automaker has a slick, nifty looking web site. And it's like watching the most boring television commercial you ever saw. It hardly ever changes. There are pictures of cars, some words, a place you can look at press releases and corporate information. (Yeah, like that it's going to compete with online porn?)
But what if Ford did this: Announce that it is designing a new Mustang and that it wants all those loyal drivers who ever owned a Mustang to help decide what it should look like...... Now what happens when they roll that new Mustang out on the showroom floor? You will have created a community that has something invested in this car and, best of all....... it will actually be a car that the community wants. They'll buy it for 2 reasons. It has the features that they asked for and they already have ownership in it. A group that already exists - intensely loyal and nostalgic Mustang drivers - will form a community and have a home, the Ford website, where they can compare mileage, share service tips and offer suggestions for next year's model.
Compare this to the way cars are unveiled now like top secret weapons. Then, once the manufacturer has rolled out its new car, it has to compete for the attention of the automotive media. And even if the automotive media have given the green light, the company must still buy hundreds of millions of dollars in expensive, scattershot advertising in the hopes that they will accidentally and randomly hit people who are watching Survivor and have been thinking about buying a Ford. Why not have the people who drive Fords come to you? And when they get there, why not let them do something? ..........
We want the power to choose............In every industry, in every segment of the economy, the power is shifting over to us. If you are working for an American company, you get to decide whether you want to be the recording executive who thought he had beaten Napster or the one off trying to figure out how to make money with the iPod....
You get to decide if you are going to keep throwing money at television advertising, a one to many medium that becomes more expensive and less effective with each passing day or if you are going to do what eBay did and build a community around your company.
Because if you are not committed to build the Kodak community, or the Chrysler community, then you are just putting in time until the first mover in your industry does it and takes you out. Then you'll say that you never saw it coming, just like the movie industry won't see it coming when kids start using digital cameras to produce 2 hour movies and distribute the films themselves using broadband.
I who like many of who write about a decentralized and more democratic world work from observation and intuition. JT writes from a visceral personal perspective. He, like Galileo, has seen the new world with his own eyes.
At one level the book is a narrative of the Dean campaign But it is also a prediction of how the now ever more established rules of the networked world will overwhelm the ruling oligarchies.
As a service to those who have not read his book - here are Joe's "7 Inviolable, Irrefutable, Ingenious things your business, or institution or candidate can do in the age of the internet that might keep you from getting your ass kicked but then again might not"
1. Be first...... The first car company to let people pick the colors, the first beer company to let people design the label, the first candidate to embrace people on the net - the first everything has a head start building a community. Go now
2. Keep it moving. Do not be static. .... Don't let your website be wallpaper. Your Internet presence should be an organic flowing, daily dialogue with your customers, back and forth. If you aren't regularly emailing customers, if you aren't responding to their emails, if you don't have a blog, if you are not using your website to engage the people.... then you are wasting your time on the Net.
3. Use an authentic voice .. ... The Internet is not the place for safe vetted corporate communication........ Sacrifice some of the slickness of your web site for the real, sometimes messy quality of the best blogs. .. Have real people write real stuff.
4. Tell the truth ..... The internet has an inherent transparency. .... but if you invite people in, you had better be prepared to have them look in the medicine cabinet. So don't hide anything. Tell them what you want. Don't manipulate. Put what you want up high. Put it on the first page of your web site at the top of your emails.
5. Build a community .... Create a commons, a town square, a pace where people can come together to talk about their Ford Mustangs or their Kodak cameras. If you are running the Kodak website and you don't have an online photo gallery for people who buy your digital cameras or an online photo contest ... then you should give up now. Because someone is going to do it. Get people involved. This is not top down one to many anymore. The internet is a side to side, upside down, many to many. Use it that way. It's the dialogue stupid.
6. Cede control ....... Once you let the people in, they are going to want to do more. I know this violates everything they taught you at school but you have to let go of the old command and control style of business. Let the edges blur between customer and company.....
7. Believe again ... The days of condescension toward customers and citizens are over. have some faith in the American people again. Democracy is based on the principle that if we give the citizens control over their common future, they will choose the right path. The same is true for consumers.
" You can adapt, now, or you can wait the eager, hungry, wired, 19 year olds - and the rest of us acting with the energy and fearlessness of 19 year olds, whether we are 19, 39, 59 or 89. We will burn with our desire to overthrow everything. You can wait for us or you can change your way of thinking, embrace this democratizing power. You can build communities and contribute to a new way of business, government life..... or you can wait for us to come over the walls.
And when we get there, what will we want? Good stuff - good clothes and good cars and good music and good public policy. Good corporate behavior. We want you to stop polluting and to stop creating debt that our children will have to pay for. We ant you to listen, to make make good communities where we can shop and play and date and listen to music. We want you not to be evil........
We are at a critical moment in our American history.
We are the point that our founding fathers feared the most - when economic power seizes political power in the country......
No one can change America for you. You have to do it. If just 2 million of us give what w ecan in time and monmey, we can take back the White House and Congress. ..... We can do this now because we are more connected than at any time in our history. But the thing that connects us is more than a mesh of wires and optic links, more than a world of web sites and blogs and email addresses. We are connected by our birthright as americans and by our very fiber of democracy.
Together, I believe that we can accomplish anything, if we can just keep one idea in mind. One principle. Four simple words that still echo across America.
You Have The Power