Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Command-Control vs Respond-Embrace-Own

Post by Zane Safrit on AmEx OPEN FORUM

Respond-Embrace-and-Own Economy Drives It.

Once upon a time, in an economy not too long ago, life was simple. And in that simple time, smart executives at companies issued simple commands to employees and customers. And the commands were clear and simple and good. Employees followed these commands and built products and services and global brands around them. Consumers came to trust the brands with confidence and comfort they experienced.

The command and control economy is no longer possible. There are too many tools, too many media outlets and too many conversations for a brand and its management to effectively command and control. Commanding and controlling it is as effective as commanding and controlling the shape of a water-balloon. Squeeze it here. . . and it squirts out over there. Squeeze it tighter and the balloon, your brand, is gone, leaving a mess to clean up.

What about those brands that understand this change and how it impacts their brand? IBM’s embrace of the Linuz engineer community is an excellent example of a brand’s success in our Respond-and-Own economy. IBM reached out to the tens of thousands of engineers and the open-source evangelists for the Linux operating system. Now, those tens of thousands of engineers and their passion for Linux drive IBM’s growth. And IBM’s embrace of Linux and its engineers drive theirs. They responded to the changes in their industry. They embraced the evangelists for this change. And their brands are bigger as a result. Bringing in each other under their tents, Linux under IBM’s and IBM under Linux’s tent, only served to make their tents bigger, stronger, more unflappable.

More companies will find their foundation of command-and-control is crumbling or disappeared. The question is will they react or respond? Will they react with commands to control their brand. Will they fight to retain ownership of their crumbling building resting on an imploding foundation. Or will they respond and invite the millions of micro-media sites, consumers and employees, to share in building and owning their brand?

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