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Book synthesis

Power: understanding the new rules of the game

We are in the midst of an interesting and complex transformation, driven by a growing tension between two distinct forces: old power and new power. In our connected world, what can you do to harness a new kind of power, based on sharing and a sense of community?

Power hasn’t really changed for centuries. It worked like a currency in the hands of a select group of leaders, based on a strictly top-down approach. In our connected age, a new kind of power is changing the rules of the game, putting tools in the hands of those who want to make a positive impact on society even if they don’t have the resources, revenue streams, or networks of traditional organizations.

Old power vs. new power

“Old power” values formal governance, competition, exclusivity, resource consolidation, confidentiality, expertise, professionalism, specialization, and long-term loyalty.
“New power” is more like an electrical current rather than a currency: it is open, participatory, and made by the many (rather than the few), with a horizontal and/or upward dynamic. The goal of new power is to maximize the energy of every stakeholder so that benefits are evenly distributed. Its values are distributed governance, self-organization, collaboration, open source, transparency, ethics, participation, DIO (“do it ourselves”), and short-term affiliation. The pioneers of this new power include players in the sharing economy and hashtagged activist movements. At the same time, more and more organizations — including some of the most traditional — are adopting these codes for their own needs. New power has two main drivers: ideas to share and communities that can breathe life into these ideas and make them grow.

Sending a message that triggers action


Excerpt from Business Digest N°292, December 2018

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Caroline Schuurman
Published by Caroline Schuurman