Redefining Power In The Workplace:
The Age of Creativity
By Dr. Russ Ouellette, DM
Sir Francis Bacon coined the phrase in the 16th century, "Knowledge is power." Since that time, leaders have built everything from small businesses to empires through focused knowledge and protection of information. Our institutions, structures and policies are designed to control information and knowledge for that reason. Therefore, successful leaders seek information to gain power that can be leveraged for success.
Some of us remember policy manuals that carefully controlled our institutional rules of communication, and unwritten protocol that made sure leaders were abreast of everything. Information control set the tone of worker energy, and people happily functioned inside a well scripted and controlled information environment.
The information age built upon the concept of knowledge is power, and we collected, captured, moved, stored, managed, bought, sold, horded, pertained, branded, archived and warehoused data (information). Information is indeed a valuable commodity and today all our structures, roles, careers, income and future are built upon this foundation of knowledge management.
Everything is about to change, however, because possessing information today means less than does being able to find it. Since information is becoming increasingly available and free, the future belongs to the creative mind, the people who can conceptualize and use the information they now have constant access to at the touch of a button.
We are entering a new period of organizational structure that drastically challenges embedded organizational and leadership philosophies towards a more collaborative and creative reality. This is why so many companies are struggling with utilizing Facebook. If all of our policies and protocols are built around controlling information, Facebook is the equivalent of the Wild West, and traditional leadership has to change the way they lead people, organize work, and change to meet the new customer needs.
At the foundation of these behavior shifts are the social networking platforms and tools (i.e.: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). These tools are growing at an unprecedented rate and firms are rushing to study and implement social technologies into their organizations. These changes will fundamentally affect who holds the power and opportunity, and be the cornerstone of how we think, interact, create, change and produce.
In the future, power is distributed because information is distributed. There is no longer the need to collect, horde, or compile information because it is all there delivered through the portal of the Internet. Therefore, the power belongs to those who can get to the information, collaborate with it and find opportunities born from it.
In the future, leadership will be redefined towards something more collaborative. To lead will not be to tell. Rather, leadership will be gifted to the master collaborator, creator and conceptual thinker. This person will be transformational by fusing people and communities together around ideas. Leadership and authority will be forever unlinked, and creative people will be released from fear and control.
In the future, results matter more. If your idea or investment is not gaining ground, it will be more common to abandon that direction for a new one. If results are not forthcoming, rather than fail, a firm will change directions. And the firm that can change directions quicker will hold the power, and not the firm that builds an empire of information.
In the past, one might be fired for failing an order, so people would be reluctant to offer strategies for change. In the future, change will be everything.
Under the direction of Bedford, NH-based executive leadership coaching firm Sojourn Partners, The Future of Everything Project brings together panels of thought leaders from diverse backgrounds and interests to brainstorm, collaborate and proactively craft a vision of "what can be." Core project participants on this topic included Terry Vital, founder of Vital & Ryze Advertising, Dr. Tony Paradis, executive director of the Southeastern Regional Education Service Center (SERESC) and Fred Bramante, owner of Daddy's Junky Music Store and former chairman of the New Hampshire State Board of Education.