My last post explored ideas about managing people based on their individual concerns and desires as opposed to threats or concerns for the brand. As individuals though, we still seek to be part of a larger system.
We enter into social systems, whether for work, fun, or community as individuals but we seek to be a vital part of a whole. People are inherently social creatures who want to be a part of something larger than themselves.
As stated in the book Conscious Evolution:
Self actualization occurs when we find our vocations and express them meaningfully in the world. Our vocations are drawn forth by the process of finding others we need, by enlivening our individual lives and the quality of life in the community.
There was a time when people feared that the Internet would keep people from being social creatures, but the rapid adoption of the social web has shown just the opposite. People want to join in the conversation and have an impact on their world. People are working together to make a difference and to make their mark without regards to traditional methods of compensation. What they are working for is to create value for themselves and for their world. It will be our collective values that will guide the use of these tremendous new capabilities.
The dark side of the collective web is the use of loud voices and large, organized numbers of people who gather to go on the attack. All to often special interest groups fortify themselves by putting others down.
Consider for a moment that all ideas are human-made and none are the absolute truth. Common sense dictates that we evaluate our beliefs on the basis of how they affect us.
For as we see reality, so we act, as as we act, so we shape reality.
So how does this relate to “defeating the ego” and the social web?
One of the most common concerns I hear about the social web is that people now have the ability to personalize what they pay attention to. This will enable people to listen only to news that they agree with and to connect only with people who think like them. We will all get tunnel vision and become blind to diverse perspectives. This is a very valid concern. It is a human behavior that has existed in many people in many ways long before technology enabled such actions.
However consider for a moment that shared values are the result of listening, appreciating, building consensus, and practicing conflict resolution. For people to understand the values and come to agree with them, they must participate in the process; unity is forged, not forced.
Never will there be two people, much less a group of people that think the same way. As groups of people form, each individual will bring to the group different ideas and perspectives. The difference between groups being formed in a digital world from groups that were formed in the past is that every individual has a means to communicate their unique perspectives. Communication is no longer top down.
What I have witnessed and experienced over the years are connections made online by two or more people who would have never have met without the Internet. People who lived very different lives and had very different ideas. However when two people find one common passion, whether it is politics, spirituality, sports, or their vocation, they will form a strong bond around that connection and will then open themselves to other ideas from that person which may be opposite from how they see the world.
Functional egos look for shared values. Dysfunctional egos impose their values on others. The social web is defeating the ego by enabling people to share their values and seek others with similar values.
Other changes that have shifted the power from dominating personalities to that of collaborative partnerships is the increasing need to stay ahead of or keep up with the innovation curve.
Innovation comes more from listening than from telling. Product and service innovations tend to come from customers, clients, vendors, people in labs, and people on the front lines; process innovations from the people doing the work. More and more we are seeing companies turning to their employees of all levels to find out what direction they feel the company needs to go. Consumers are more empowered than ever to dictate to companies what products and services they want and how they want to be treated.
Basically, now that everyone has the ability to communicate and share, everyone has the ability, and I would argue the responsibility to behave as partners in their work, community, and family lives. More and more dominators have no place in this new world.