Well, what started out as a minor illness a couple of weeks ago turned onto a bit more, then started knocking dominos in different directions. The blog, consequently, took a hit. So much for starting a revolution. C’est la vie.
But I’m back. Now, where were we? Ah, yes. Breaking down that infographic.
To begin, I want to discuss the concept of an economic philosophy. Let me define two things. First, let’s talk about “economic.” What I DON’T mean is simply the exchange of goods/services for money. What I DO mean is the entire system required to make economic exchanges possible. This includes things like labor, resources, trade, governance, and — perhaps most importantly – consumption. That last word is vitally important, because consumption is a major driver of economies. Whatever is being “consumed” becomes the basis of the economy, giving us examples like oil economies, tourism economies, and even war economies. Which explains why folks living in the farthest jungles could care less about money to buy things that they don’t need consume.
Second, let’s talk about “philosophy.” In my last post, Anthony Iannarino brought up the difference between philosophy and drivers. It’s an important distinction. Drivers are the elements that produce a shift. In terms of the three Ages (Agrarian, Industrial, and Information), the economic systems that were shifted in each age were driven by getting more out of nature, machines, and now information. But when I talk about philosophy, I am talking about the culmination of knowledge, values, beliefs, and lifestyles that are dedicated to a certain view of the world. And that’s what we have with an economic philosophy. People are dedicating whole chunks of their lives (or even more) to an economic worldview, driven primarily by what they consume (and the systems they build to support their consumption).
In (perhaps overly) simplistic terms: drivers create the philosophy.
This means that in the Agrarian Age, the wealthy (people who actually had more than they needed) transformed their lives around understanding — and even idolizing — Nature. Thomas Jefferson articulated this well when he said, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.” This also means that every time I hear some old hippie talk about “it’s the earth, man,” I think to myself, “Ah, trying to get back to the 1700’s, are we?” But I digress…
In the Industrial Age, the shift went to understanding — and even idolizing — Machines. Nature got shoved into metal boxes as steam, coal, and oil were harnessed to change our lifestyles. Consequently, he (or she) who owned the machines built entire systems to both generate and protect wealth. And if you wanted to get wealthy, the best way was to attach yourself to the machine-based system.
But, now in the Information Age, the shift is going has gone to understanding — and even idolizing — Information. The reason Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and other nerds from high school tech gods became so wealthy isn’t because of their amazing machine-making skills. It was because of their great information-harnessing skills. And they have changed how we live as a result. Just consider how often you try to harness information to be successful at work/home/play/etc.
So what does all of this mean? A number of things.
First, we have moved as a society waaaaaay past meeting our basic needs (a la Maslow). The economy and our lifestyles that support it are now based on consuming Information. But to what end? Knowing the answer to that question, especially for your clients, will generate wealth for you.
Second, if you want to generate wealth in today’s age, you have to become a student of information. And that is not simply being able to spew facts (though there are many sales people who think this is the best way to sell). It’s about understanding how information is created, discovered, accessed, harnessed, leveraged, shared, and wasted. Being able to skillfully apply that understanding will give you (and your clients) a very bright future. Ignore it, and have fun drowning in the chaos.
Third, you likely work with someone who does not recognize this truth. This last point is the saddest one to me. Too many folks are stuck in the 1900’s. They push you into using machines to solve your problems (CRM, anyone?) without actually making sure that the information you need to be successful is available to you. Whole organizations (both buyers and sellers) try to hide information in siloes, never realizing the negative impact they are creating. Buyers struggle to follow your attempts to help them improve their use of information because that is not how they are defining their problem. It’s a sad topic, to be sure.
But there is hope.
Hope that more and more people are recognizing the problem needs to be redefined. That information is more than just a collection of data bits. That sharing information, collaborating with it, can create a whole new economy. This is the philosophy we are being steered toward. This is where the revolution is taking us.
I mua… Onward and upward.