3.3 Communicative self-steering

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    A paradigm is a line-up of convictions, values, and policies that are shared by members of a group or society: the playing field that we – our customers, suppliers, co-workers, and ourselves – move around in. “Paradigm” is becoming an old-fashioned word. We tend to use it negatively most of the time, like in the context of a “management paradigm.” In a paradigm, the players on the playing field, wittingly and unwittingly, self-impose limitations. These limitations characterize our old, Western economic thought processes.

    Arnold Cornelis introduced the concept of the cyberdigm in his book, Feelings Logic. In this book, he says, “A human being finds happiness to the extent in which he directs his own learning processes, while listening to his feelings. Every person will find the question to what gives meaning at the final destination of the development of the life program.”

    According to Cornelis, as a society, we are ready to leave the social regulation system and are on our way towards a new level of stability in “communicative self-management.” Communication has opened up a world with new, unprecedented possibilities. The people of the social regulation system – a certain paradigm – are discovering that they need each other, depend on each other, and are willing to learn, gain new insights, and create new value. I visualize the cyberdigm as a three-dimensional cluster of paradigms, containing all sorts of players at different times on many playing fields. There are no boundaries; once the game comes to a halt on the one field, the players step onto another field with (perhaps) different parties, rules, and procedures. The players regulate themselves. The paradigm shift is their second nature. The Internet, and Web 2.0, in particular, offer opportunities to live and work from within the new cyberdigm, and in doing so, accelerate the process towards communicative self-steering.

    “The principal idea in the creation of this human cyberdigm is the accessibility and the growing use of social media, where information and knowledge is made available, that can be easily accessed by everybody – free from time and space. This is one movement. A second movement is when people create personal knowledge, add to it, and make it available by sharing their experiences, stories for others. Often free of charge,” says Gonnie Joosten (Joosten Consultants), a senior coach in the Seats2meet.com ecosystem.

    The cyberdigm contains an unprecedented level of transparency; everybody is fully visible. One can easily assume a social or professional brand experience. However, users will unmask this experience when the offered knowledge, skills, and integrity of the actual business transaction do not meet the image of what they believe should be offered. Every statement you make about yourself will result in dozens being made by others through logical connections between pieces of information. In principle, information is verified very well in this manner because the opinions of many are used instead of one expert, which is why authenticity is one of the most important values when operating within social media. I find this to be a nice side effect.

    In his book, Civilizing Process, Norbert Elias describes the increasing complexity of our society and the appeal that this complexity makes to people. Elias published his theories in the Interbellum (the period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II), a turbulent era. He believed there is a parallel between the increasing complexity of society and the increase in and condensing of networks in which people belong. He states that networks will interweave emphatically, both nationally and internationally. And, these networks will connect between themselves, too. Elias calls this “figuration,” and these groups have an external, as well as internal, dynamic. Elias named the external dynamic the socio-genesis: an increasing number of connected networks create a greater cohesion of everything with everything. The internal dynamic, the psycho-genesis, concerns self-analysis and self-knowledge, and refers to the place in a network in which one is assigned.

    Suppose you invite someone to enter a community you belong to personally, like Seats2meet.com or Twitter. The unique value that person will add, such as knowledge, authenticity, skills, or a membership to other networks or communities, for example, will give that person and you a (new) position in that network.

    Taking part in these configurations requires the individual learning capacity to occupy a place from within. This person requires adaptability, creativity, and self-knowledge. Self-knowledge leads to development of one’s own autonomy, and this leads to self-management. This is when people follow the road to authenticity: the capacity to freely chose from within what information, or which community, to connect with (or not).
    (From: W. Veenbaas/P. Weisfelt: Personal Leadership)

    Consciously and unconsciously, we are a part of a decision-making process, the area of tension between being alone and being together, the individual and the group, and something existential as “wanting to belong, but not wanting to go into.” Autonomy development in particular – increasing discovery from within of what we stand for – gives people relative freedom again in their restraints within the configurations, and, with that, their choice of group to connect with for a short or long period of time.

    All of this has at least two big consequences:

    1. The value of information will change according to the global availability of it, and the growth of the population that is accessing it. It is that availability and accessibility of information that offers everyone the opportunity to tell their own story, through a variety of sources. By sharing a story on the Web, the dialogue with like-minded people is advanced, resulting in the continuing increase of joint knowledge and information. This cyberdigm is not limited to the local sources and people who experience it. Imagine I am looking for someone who has specific knowledge about a topic or theme. The possibilities offered by Web 2.0 are not bound to the restraints of space and time. This changes the value of my knowledge, and it becomes easier to access information from somebody else. I can share knowledge, organize, and mobilize across borders. In other words, knowledge acquired locally is no longer cheaper than knowledge that is acquired remotely. The question is whether we need to pay much for knowledge at all.

    2. The notion of the consumer does not fulfill its definition any more. Consumption implies passivity. Every stakeholder of a product or service is challenged to be more proactive. The possibility of unlimited sharing of knowledge is the catalyst that changes the needs and demands of consumers. After all, we can pore over the service experiences of previous consumers and decide if we want different or better future experiences. In fact, every consumer is able to pose his unique question or demand, and is able to keep searching until a supplier is found that can meet these demands. And, what do the suppliers who missed out do? The business-to-business and business-to-consumer concepts will be a thing of the past. We are moving towards the concept of business-to-user. All this co-creation will turn the consumer into a producing consumer: a prosumer.