Personal. And easy to see.
Ask ten people who runs Apple or Tesla. You will get a large number who get the answer correct. Then ask them who runs GM or Boeing. Only rarely to you get a correct answer.
21st century companies create a personal connection with everyone, including their customers. This signals a very different way of organizing their efforts, one that indicates an underlying understanding that moving information around rapidly is critical.
One of the emerging aspects of corporations making the transition to new structures that allow them to rapidly adapt to change is a personal connection – with their employees, suppliers and customers.
Companies of the last century were faceless multinationals who had users and consumers, not customers. They employed hierarchical structures to control the flow of information to allow them to mass produce identical items for sale.
They were barely above the Henry Ford dictum that you could have any color of car you wanted, as long as it was black. Everyone was a cog in the wheel of process, even the CEO. Strength came from presenting a monolithic edifice of tremendous power.
The hierarchical structure worked for simple processes but, as only the person at the top knew everything, the organizations were not very adaptable.
Companies for the 21st century operate differently. We know who runs the company, not only who is at the top but also their close executives. They make things for individual customers. While they can make hundreds of millions of things, these can be easily personalized by those who purchase them.
Strength comes from presenting a kind face hoping to make an individual’s life better. It’s personal.
So we have Apple, whose CEO is not only known to many by name but also puts the signatures of everyone who worked on the original Macintosh inside the first Macs. In fact, at the famous Apple Keynotes, the VPs and even lower level executives are introduced on stage to discuss new developments.
In contrast, few can really name who was involved in the development of the Windows OS. Or the designers of the new Boeing airplane. Or any new car.
These 21st century companies create a community that really appreciates what the company provides. They stay in constant contact with each other on a personal level.
Steve Jobs provided apparently personal responses to many emails people sent him. Not with corporate speak but with real personality – sometimes a LOT of personality.
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, told the world about the failure of their latest efforts by tweeting it, not by hiding it.
The ability to move information around, to engage in a large community, provides tremendous advantages when it comes to succeeding at complex efforts.
It enlarges not only the pool of people excited by the things being produced but also provides tremendous abilities for rapid feedback in positive ways.
We will see more of these sorts of organizations coming soon.