I’ve often said that we don’t know enough about how peope behave online – e.g. how they read blogs or other web sites. Do we visit the same sites over and over again? Or do we surf, following links we stumble across as we wander, and now with pervasive social media, those that are posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.? More likely both – we have some sites we visit regularly, but we also bounce around a lot.
Behaviors are probably more complex than we think. Seth Godin writes that he learned, from Clay Shirky, of something called a Lévy flight: Example: “an animal that forages will hang out in a small area, looking for nuts or berries, then will realize it has used up all the likely sources in this spot. It will then head off in a random direction, walk many paces, and start foraging again.” The online version:
Someone discovers your site. They poke and prod and join and return and return again. Then they feel as though there’s no more benefit and they move on, surfing until they find another place to forage.
Godin calls this “a much more nuanced representation of consumer behavior than solely thinking about the ideas of brand loyalty or random web surfing.” But I’m enough of a nimrod to want to substitute the word human for consumer.
Seth Godin has a new book, Linchpin, and it looks like another good one. I haven’t read it, but I’m noting this quote, found in Amazon’s product description:
The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.
The review goes on to summarize:
There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.
Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. Like the small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom.
Meanwhile I found a post by Godin at Huffpo where he seems to be just now figuring out that we’re seeing a structural transformation from command and control to network infrastructures for organization. Surely he saw this long ago? A quote:
But if your business deals in ideas, control will stifle them. If your organization deals with the public, control will inevitably alienate your best customers. When United Airlines tries to control the way customers deal with their policies, they end up with United Breaks Guitars, not profits or market share.
Worse still, a rapidly changing competitive environment means that control is a losing strategy. Record companies tried to control technology and they lost. AT&T thought they could control how people used a telephone and they lost as well.
Is there any doubt that the world is going to go faster, not slower? Any doubt that non-state actors are going to have more influence on world affairs than ever before? Any doubt that technology will continue pushing us along a slippery slope where control is not a winning strategy?