Control is an illusion
Most organisations delude themselves that they are in control because they have surrounded themselves with rigid rules and procedures, micro-managers and planners dedicated to predictability and certainty. Most business schools inculcate a rational approach to business. But according to Martin Thomas in “Loose: The Future of Business is Letting Go: How to Break the Rules of Business”, in the complex, non-linear world we live in, the challenge is how to embrace the chaos and ambiguity of modern life.
The future is loose
The future is not rigid but loose – loose organisations, loose management styles and loose ways of working. Loose thinking is still at odds with all but the most progressive organizations, with many businesses paying lip service to customer collaboration while still exerting maximum control. Google, of course, is a glorious exception.
Google breaks the traditional rules of branding by changing its logo every day, Doritos handed over the premium advertising slot in the Superbowl to a couple of amateur filmmakers, and even Pope Benedict XVI has embraced the inclusive “Obama model” of communication with YouTube broadcasts in 27 languages in an attempt to encourage debate.
Justin Bieber had a social media campaign that went wrong; the Biebs apparently asked his fans to name the country where they’d most like to see him perform and in suitably anarchic spirit the web community got involved to ensure North Korea was voted top of the list!
Loose uses the example of a Belgian traffic planner who removed most of the traffic lights in his town because he felt they absolved drivers of the need to think for themselves. As a result, the town has fewer accidents as people grew more conscious of their driving.
Supermarket giant Asda allows customers to compare its prices online it opened itself up to criticism but in a constructive way. It might admit to not being the cheapest on some products but accepts this and encourages customers to suggest ways in which it can improve.
Research specialists such as Brainjuicer. Using its product, Predictive Markets, it recruits 500 random people, asking them to imagine they have shares in something. Based on the sales pitch, they decide whether to buy more. “It’s far more effective for predicting a product’s likely success
Eventually, says the author, more open ways of thinking and operating will pervade even the largest and most complex institutions. Companies will be forced to find new ways of engaging with customers. The message is stark: prevailing business wisdom needs to change. Change your terms of business, before they are changed for you.