The Connection Economy
Understanding it and plugging in
Since its existence, the world has moved through economic eras. It started with the Hunter-Gatherer Economy, which was characterized by a subsistence lifestyle that depended on hunting, fishing, and foraging for wild vegetation and nutrients like honey for food until around 12, 000 years ago (according to National Geographic).
To survive and succeed in this economy (It was actually about survival), you have to practice hunting-gathering. Then the world moved to the Agrarian Economy.
The Agrarian economy goes over 10, 000 years back and was characterized by a growth in agriculture. The plough, the advent of animal husbandry, and the invention of the watermill lead to a significant increase in available energy. It changed the way lives were lived. The bosses were those with assets — land. The next was the industrial economy, characterized by what we know as the industrial revolution.
In the industrial economy, agricultural societies became more industrialized and urban. Economies that were based on agriculture evolved and were now based on large-scale industry, mechanized manufacturing, and factory system.
Asides from the invention of machines, one of the highlights of the industrial economy was the increased division of labor and specialization of function, a new organization of work known as the factory system. Next was the Information economy which you are probably familiar with.
The information age as we still call it was the rise of knowledge, decentralized information, and data. It was the era when knowledge, information, and services became more valuable than manufacturing.
According to Keith Coats, it was the emergence and/or dominance of companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Motorola. Knowledge overtakes capital in importance as capital shifts from being physical to intellectual or as Jensen phrases it, ‘It (capital) resides in our heads, not in bank accounts or in machines’.
Then comes the connection economy and that’s where are at.
In the connection economy, the big deal is sharing.
The former was information and access to it, the current is the sharing of ideas and information. The ability to extract and use information was what thrived in the information economy. The bosses of the information economy were those with access to information, the technologies that provided them and those that used the information, this time it’s those that share it.
In the connection economy, more people are powerful but together (not alone). The disruptive drivers of change in the connection economy will be those that share ideas and connect to and with people.
The human (emotional) side of business is needed more now than ever coupled with the fact that there is such major growth in specialization, hence, the winning strategy is collaboration.
To thrive in the connection economy, you need to do three things (maybe there’s more)
1. Master your skill (you might want to specialize publicly)
2. Master people and be involved (in teams and communities)
3. Share ideas and teach others
Seth Godin wrote this about ideas a few years back and they are profound.
Ideas are going to continue to become more valuable, which means that the urge to control and patrol them is going to get greater.
· Ideas that spread, win
· Networks in which ideas flow are worth more than networks without
· Great ideas are amplified when others build on them
· Locking down ideas makes them worth less
Maybe I’ll write more about this in my next article. Stick around