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Message to Company CEO's: Become Human,
At Very Least Be Alive, or Perish!

What do the Gurus of Industry have in common?

Essentially this message: to succeed in the 21st century, a business will need to be more human, more alive, or it will surely die. Why? Because whether we want to admit it or not, the digital communication revolution is not as unnatural as some may think, but rather a logical progression of the human spirit and an extension of our natural inclinations as human beings.

While some may feel that digital communication technology and services are enslaving us in subtle and not so subtle ways because we're inundated with information and no matter what, we can't seem to "get away." The reality is that they are really an extension of our humanness. Why? Because human beings think on many levels at once and most human beings crave a sense of connection and a sense of belonging. And more than anything else that's what the Internet and other ubiquitous communication services provide.. freedom to explore alternatives.

Some say technology is the driver and we're merely passengers. But the reason we're evolving into that which is digital - that which has no bandwidth limitations, that which is interactive - is because that's what we are.... no limit human beings.

A human being, any human being, is more like a network than a disconnected stand-alone computer.

For instance, why has Microsoft Windows* been so universally adopted? Some might say it's because Bill Gates planned to become the ruler of the universe even when he was just a teenager. Others attribute it to his company's strategic marketing. But really it's because Windows operates more like a human brain actually operates than anything alternative. Throughout the day, our brain opens up many different programs and files. And we're constantly switching back and forth between ideas and images and applying them differently depending on what we're doing. The "windows" mode of operation is something we had to move toward because it operates more like the brain of a human being than previous operating systems.

This whole concept goes way beyond the idea of a service or application being "user-friendly." It's really that the service, the application, and in fact the whole mode of operation of a business needs to be more like the human beings who will ultimately use it. And the business and the service or product it is selling must be something that enhances our humanity.

On the brink of the next century, the creative force within human beings is driving toward creating a technology that is really like itself -only better, faster, perhaps more reliable. But it's more natural than unnatural.

Some think it's a crime that wireless communication services make it impossible to "get away" because with beepers, cell phones, laptops and other wireless communication devices, we're always accessible no matter what. However, recently a friend of mine called me from the beach in Florida on her husband's cell phone, and she was thrilled to be able to describe to me -at that very moment- how beautiful the beach and the water were and what a great time she was having. Now I thought about how more natural it was for her to call me and share with me, in real time, her experience at the beach, versus writing on a post card and mailing it to me.

The net-net here is that the developing technology really is following a human blueprint... Making usability also useful.

Communication services and for that matter any business service that shapes itself to the natural inclinations of human beings will be
successful in the 21st century.

Business quite clearly needs to  organize and structure its information systems like that of a human nervous system. The biological nervous system triggers your reflexes so that you can react quickly to danger or need. It gives you the information you need as you ponder issues and make choices. You're alert to the most important things, and your nervous system blocks out the information that isn't important to you.

Companies need to have that same kind of nervous system. The
ability to run smoothly and efficiently, to respond quickly to
emergencies and opportunities, to quickly get valuable information to the people within the company and its supply chain who need it for immediate action. The ability to quickly make decisions and interact with customers makes CEO's like EDS's Richard Brown rethink their way of doing business and beyond.

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Anything Alive Is Part of A Great Network

I just trying to make the point that businesses have got to get clued
into and take advantage of the fact that this communication
revolution is more organic and more alive than anything business
leaders could have anticipated prior to the Internet and network
technology as it exists today.

In many ways the communication technology that is coming of age at this very moment is really the human spirit and psyche trying to complete itself - trying to rearrange the world and its institutions so that they are more user-friendly, better suited to the needs and desires of human beings.

The wonderful news about the networked economy is that it plays right into human strengths. The forces or repetition, sequels, copies, and automation all lean toward the Internets' company billboards ( mirroring their existing businesses) dominating Cyberspace. Their use is basically free and efficient if not totally creative. Meanwhile those who choose the innovative, original, and imaginative - approach to re-introduce their products and services to new faces in a different light which resulting in further efficiencies - soar in value."

I hear the word "core value" and think of all the waisted efforts by organizations who have waisted time trying to keep the competition at bay. dollar.gif (3789 bytes)Todays wired world does not revolve around proprietary knowledge. Alliances not "buyouts" are the real forces behind growth and  profitability. Value Flows From the Abundance of ideas not scarcity and the pooling of knowledge and purchasing power help alliances leap frog the "core value" companies. The workplace no longer is confined to physical buildings. This new networked economy, that frees human beings to be creative in ways that could have only been dreamt of before, allows for collaberation across town and around the world. Networking employee knowledge ultimately provides a much more life-affirming, life-giving power which "empowers" creativity. Giving "power to" or a "power with" versus a "power over." stature to your business is all important.

The law of growth in the 21st century is not about dominance. The self-interest of ordinary business guarantees that every company in the world will strive to get its product or service into every home, garage or into every store. Popularity is an ancient goal. But that is not what network plenitude strives for. The abundance upon which a networked
economy is built is one of opportunity to differentiate yourself from the pack.

The formula for success I advocate within this networked economy, is giving customers the power to access the information they need, when they need it. Then make it easy for them to act upon their new found discovery without having to fight the restraints of traditional leggacy business proactices. I also advocate businesses designing their customer service processes so that customers can choose the type of media they want to access the information in: Internet, fax, phone with prompts, and a live customer agent when necessary.

The net-net of  my advice is this: respect the fact that customers are human beings and have full, busy lives and that to them, time is of the essence. Again, it's remembering the human factor in all you attempt to sell and how you proceed selling it. The consumer now rules the boardroom too.

It all comes down to this: the networked global economy we find ourselves in right now has the potential to bring about a celebration of our humanity and what we can achieve as individuals and organizations. Companies and organizations that take a good look at the possibilities inherent in this networked world and economy and act upon it - keeping the individual and the human spirit in mind - will prosper.

Anyone who plans to sell a service or a product via the internet is advised to consider:

Your creation will thrive if it becomes ubiquitous. If its value depends on only a few using it within your local area, you should reconsider it in light of the new rules that allow sales and support worldwide. Concentrate on expanding the opportunities before the efficiencies or your old way of business will stiffle your growth.

Technology is no panacea. It will never solve the ills or injustices of society. Technology can do only one thing for us -- but it is an astonishing thing-- technology brings an increase in opportunities. Long before Beethoven sat before a piano, someone with twice his musical talents was born into a world that lacked keyboards and orchestras. We'll never hear his music because technology and knowledge had not yet uncovered those opportunities.

Centuries later the fulfilled opportunity of musical technology gave Beethoven the opportunity to be great. How fortunate we are that oil paints had been invented by the time Van Gogh was ready, or that George Lucas could use film and computers. Somewhere on Earth today are young geniuses waiting for a technology that will perfectly match their gifts. If we are lucky, they'll live long enough for our knowledge and technology to make the opportunity they need." It's clear that technology, when used properly, gives life and form to the human spirit and the creative force within all of us.

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