Whenever I’m engaged with a software vendor, the likely language is one that implies a winner takes all mentality. It’s the way the business has been for some 50 years. But I sense that might be changing. In an example from the real world, Greg Mankiw talks about how owner managed businesses that survive over the generations tend to out perform the managed style of publicly owned businesses. How does this happen?
The commentary that got me comes from Jeff Cornwall (sorry to pinch the entire quote)
There’s also much to be said for family “stewardship” — the sense that you have been entrusted with a multigenerational inheritance, not just a company. The Northeastern grocery chain Wegmans is now run by a fourth generation of family managers. Regularly voted one of the best American employers, it is known for the range and quality of its goods, its beautifully appointed stores and its knowledgeable and friendly staff. The buyout experts who snapped up grocery chains through the 1980′s and 90′s, firing workers and cutting benefits, would not have understood what the Wegmans are about.
Now there’s something to think about. Business as a community legacy strategy outperforms professional management. The thing the original NYT article fails to say is that size doesn’t matter in this analysis. I mean. Who the heck has heard of Wegmans? Yet they’re incredibly successful in their niche because in part, they recognise the need to integrate community into what they do.
What does that say to those who would naysay the notion of building a professional community around electronic media? The kind of media that places a strong emphasis on the social aspects of communication.
Maybe what we’re doing is working out the electronic version of returning to the notions of society that are missing from so much of what big business offers. Personal bankers and not outsourced call centres. Maybe we’re tacitly recognising that business effectiveness really can be impacted by uncovering aggregated analysis by talanted individuals. If true then that’s one heck of a shift in the way business might organise itself in the future.
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