The powerful are experiencing increasingly greater limits on their power. …power is becoming more feeble, transient, and constrained.
We know that power is shifting from brawn to brains, from north to south and west to east, from old corporate behemoths to agile start-ups, from entrenched dictators to people in town squares and cyberspace. But to say that power is shifting from one continent or country to another, or that it is dispersing among many new players, is not enough. Power is undergoing a far more fundamental mutation that has not been sufficiently recognized and understood.
Moisés Naím, The End of Power
I presented my synopsis of The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moisés Naím at last Friday’s First Friday Book Synopsis. This is the first selection by Mark Zuckerberg for his AYearOfBooks2015 project. It was an excellent choice.
Here’s how Mr. Naím defines power (from the book):
Power is the ability to direct or prevent the current or future actions of other groups and individuals. Or, put differently, power is what we exercise over others that leads them to behave in ways they would not otherwise have behaved.
I’ve already written a couple of posts prompted by this book (read especially The Cost of Heresy is Going Down – In Religion, and in Plenty of Other Realms Also).
Here are some of the book’s big ideas:
• The loss of true hegemony :
- Zbigniew Brzezinski described the world as in a “post-hegemonic era – no nation has the capacity to impose its will on others in a substantial or permanent way.”
• The More, Mobility, and Mentality Revolutions:
• The More, Mobility, and Mentality revolutions and their degrading effects on the power of incumbents are clearly visible in the business world.
• Migration has transported business knowledge and practical experience in ways that regulatory change and investment incentives cannot rival.
• There is more of everything, it moves wider and faster, and people’s expectations have dramatically changed.
Take a look at this chart, from the book (please excuse my barely adequate iPhone photo — blame the photographer). It captures the “four channels of power” (Muscle, Code, Pitch, and Reward) along with the More, Mobility, and Mentality revolutions.
And, here are my five lessons and takeaways:
#1 — The old “power” structures are less and less powerful. Power itself is actually in decline.
#2 — Genuine disruptiveness creates threats to the old power structures. And, new disruptions will keep coming!
#3 — In one sense, this means that everyone, and every organization has to practice the “self-” disciplines – self- motivation; self-learning; self-discipline; self-direction; self-correction — new ways of “self-governing”… — In other words, people — individual people — have more power than ever to direct their own futures… (and, the responsibility to do so is on them)
#4 — In one sense, this means that everyone and every organization has to bring its “A Game” every day, every quarter, because a new threat to its power and place is right around the corner, always…
#5 — And, regardless of how difficult it may be to face this, even if we “long for the ‘good old days,’ with its set structure and predictability and certainty,” such longing will not bring those days back. Yes, the world is actually different!
This is a book that I would definitely recommend adding to your reading stack. It helped me understand the shifts occurring in our world, in practically every arena (note especially the subtitle: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States).
My synopsis, with the audio recording of my presentation, and my multi-page, comprehensive handout, will be available soon on our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.