Since the inception of the industrial era, business has moved in what Bhatt has referred to as the “sell/buy” approach. In other words a business, corporation, or even street vendor offers products for sale and the consumer purchased them. Marketing, advertising, branding and all other endeavors of business were designed to support this “sell/buy” mentality. Madison Avenue soon learned that the product was more important than the customer and the only part of the customer that truly matter was the customer’s willingness to pay for the product.
Steven Bhatt calls this form of business entity, Economus corporatus literally “market of bodies”. Bhatt states that if business entities are thought of as species, then Economus corporatus is a dinosaur born of the Industrial Revolution and the age of the dinosaur is over, just as at the end of the Mesozoic era, the K-T asteroid struck the earth causing the mass extinction of dinosaurs. The world economy as seen two separate K-T type asteroid impacts on the global marketplace. Much as the first K-T asteroid heralded the death of the largest reptiles to occupy this planet, the economic K-T asteroids now herald the death of Economus corporatus.
What are the K-T asteroids of the modern economy? The first of these is the rise of what is commonly now known as the information age. The growth of the internet as well as the continuous and exponential growth of computing power, storage and most importantly bandwidth has transformed the market place and the very currency of market economies. In the industrial era the market place was dominated by product-based companies typical of species Economus corporatus.
Yet scurrying amongst the trampling feet of these Paleolithic behemoths of industry were the early warm blooded small service-oriented businesses. As the industrial era waned, giving rise to the service and information economies of the 1980s and 1990s, the number of these small service-oriented businesses grew exponentially. Finally, the availability of technology to support the exchange of information required to facilitate the explosion of service and information-based businesses vibrated as the first of the economic K-T asteroids impacted the world marketplace, the information age was born.
The second K-T asteroid of the world marketplace was the widespread availability and increasing density of communications and bandwidth. Now, not only was an incalculable volume of information available but it was available to everyone. Services such as Wikipedia, Big Dig, and other community based, community monitored, community edited, community generated, public domain/communal information repositories all but obliterated the meaning of intellectual property. With the impact of this second K-T type cataclysmic asteroid on the global marketplace, the end of Economus corporatus was assured and the small information age industries that had scurried among its feet evolved into what Bhatt calls Economus processus, literally “market of collaboration advancing information and relationships.”
For species Economus processus, words that were once nouns to Economus corporatus are now verbs. Business, start-up, information, and even relationship no longer define static objects to be owned or claimed by a single member of species Economus corporatus. Instead they are now verbs, action words that describe the activity of a member of the species Economus processus. Economus processus is involved in the activity of business. Rather than being a startup, a newly born Economus processus goes about the activity of starting up. To Economus processus information is not an object to be horded and jealously guarded from the eyes and fingers of other members of each species, rather information is a process by which relationships, connections, products and services are spawned, nurtured, delivered and even inspired by the very people and corporations that the information serves and supports.
Economus processus does not go to networking events to create relationships that are then placed in a rolodex like so many forgotten business cards. Rather Economus processus builds and nurtures relationships as ongoing forms of communication, even as friendships. The relationship itself is not an end but a means by which Economus processus serves others. There is no longer a “sell/buy” mentality, instead there is only the process of building relationships that lead to the collection of more information that promotes mutual success.
Bhatt states Economus processus is only a recent evolution, however there is evidence that as early as the 1970’s the corporate genetics for Economus processus were emerging. Cavett Roberts, the founder of the National Speaker’s Association observed that his colleagues in the field of professional speaking were competing for business from a never expanding pool of potential clients. As the number of professional speakers grew, each was competing for an ever shrinking piece of the pie. Roberts determined that it was not the speech (product) that clients bought, but the act of professional speaking (process). This meant that if professional speakers shared market experiences, insights and efforts, new markets could be opened to the profession of professional speaking. New markets would create an ever expanding pool of potential clients and, as Cavett Roberts often said, “we make a bigger pie.”
Bhatt contents that given the rapid expansion of the internet and technology in general, Economus processus is poised to become the dominant species over the next five years and will maintain that dominance for the foreseeable future. While there is no doubt that Economus processus is rapidly gaining dominance as Economus corporatus suffers death spasms and collapses under the weight of its own structures, hierarchies and sheer mass, it is not at all certain that Economus processus represents an endpoint in its own evolution.
Already, there is a new species evolving out of Economus processus and the market is moving quickly to embrace this new and even more nimble member of the global market, Economus paratus literally “market ready.” For Economus paratus, business, start-up, information and relationship are not only verbs, but processes to be supported by the judicious allocation of resources, in other words Economus paratus takes the best of the lessons learned from Economus corporatus and applies them to the verbs that define Economus processus.
Economus paratus, despite the fact that it is only in its infancy, has already had its birth cries heard across the world and across the internet. Economus paratus first birth cries were of the concept of business triage, the model by which outcomes are identified and the processes supporting these outcomes prioritize benchmark monitor and given resources to ensure the desired outcome. Such a business triage model can only function in a truly cellular organization, that is an organization in which, as Bhatt describes, management sets goals (outcomes), budgets and boundaries then teams within the organization establish the rules and paths by which these outcomes are achieved.
Within a particular cell, leadership, duties, roles and function are determined not by management but by the team as a whole. Working under a team selected leader to achieve the goal in the most efficient and cost effective fashion within the boundaries and budgets set, these cells function more efficiently, more economically and faster than their structured, hierarchal and micro-managed competition.
Economus paratus does this in the most efficient way possible by first establishing the most important outcomes and then allocating resources judiciously to achieve them. In short, business triage and process optimization are distinguishing characteristics of Economus paratus.
While Bhatt is certainly correct that Economus processus will become the dominant business species within the next five years, there is no doubt that it will share the global marketplace with Economus paratus and that within a decade it will be Economus paratus and not Economus processus that achieves true and complete dominance.