In a world in which information is like air, what happens to power?

Us Now is ‘A film project about the power of mass collaboration, government and the internet’, and this is the question they pose at the top of their site.  It is a great question too – ‘information is power’ is an old cliche, but in the web era information is everywhere, and hence ‘power’ must work differently.  I think this transforms the way leadership works and the qualities that go to make up a great leader – both in government and the private sector.

This video from the site explores this issue a little on the public sector side, and asks the question ‘can we all govern’ and talks about re-constituting what is government.

You can, of course, only go so far with these ideas, at the end of the day someone needs to be in charge.  This is particularly true in the private sector where the interests of employees are not wholly aligned with their shareholders.

Nonetheless if information is everywhere you have the basis for much greater empowerment of workers, and we are starting to see the impact of this already – the notion of continuous development that I talked about yesterday is a good example in software companies.

From a leadership perspective the declining importance of information probably means that being good at company politics becomes less important and having good judgement (especially on people) and being trusted and respected come to the fore.

  • Power comes not from knowledge but from wisdom; not from the information itself but in knowing how to use information; not from being able to debate aspects of information but from being able to execute using wisdom; from understanding the root of power and being transparent about far, far more bits of information than before.

    You make a perfect point about how corporate politics will be a less effective game to play, and how organizational structures will need to adapt to the shifting sources of power (and value) in the organization; controlling information and stifling the “emergent enterprise” isn't the smartest approach for a manager today (especially with the Millennial Generation entering the workforce)…

  • Power comes not from knowledge but from wisdom; not from the information itself but in knowing how to use information; not from being able to debate aspects of information but from being able to execute using wisdom; from understanding the root of power and being transparent about far, far more bits of information than before.

    You make a perfect point about how corporate politics will be a less effective game to play, and how organizational structures will need to adapt to the shifting sources of power (and value) in the organization; controlling information and stifling the “emergent enterprise” isn't the smartest approach for a manager today (especially with the Millennial Generation entering the workforce)…

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