Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The revolution called The Relationship Economy

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right all right, all right

(thanks to

Revolution history

The most memorable recent "Revolution" was on the flip-side of the "Hey Jude" single by the Beatles, which they released in August of 1968.

You know you want to hear it -- go ahead -- you can still read while you listen!

(alternate link here

The first American revolution was marked by the "shot heard round the world" at Lexington on April 19, 1775. That shot began the eight-and-a-half year war for American Independence. It ended on September 3, 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. There have been many significant events in world history since then, and there are many more to come.

Recent History

The most recent revolution, like those before it, is the natural result of a series of collaborations, decisions, events, and actions. Like many revolutions, the majority of people in the world will look back after it is well underway and claim that they never saw it coming. But we can see this one coming! The media has reported on a variety of indicators and the imminence of this revolutionary shift in the way business is done in the networked world.

This revolution has been talked about in one form or another for almost ten years.

This revolution was identified as "a symbiosis of services and new information and communications technologies" (Morgan, 1998, p. 2). It was digested for the better part of the first two months of 2003 in the Business Administration School at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). And it was discussed at some length in a Socratic exchange on a long airplane trip (Searls, 2007).

More recently, the news updates for this revolution have been briefed (almost daily) to those who are interested in getting involved on the front lines. And now, the revolution manual is available for your reading pleasure.

This revolution is The Relationship Economy, defined as the people and things we are connected with in our personal networks who or that distribute or consume our capital, which in turn influences our individual production outputs.

This post begins a series on the finer points of the Revolution. It will include a step-by-step analysis of the factors and indicators that will point the way as we engage in The Relationship Economy. You'll see many familiar concepts and will be able to find your way through the process and prepare for the changes to come.

The Revolution Begins

The Relationship Economy includes the use of Social Media for traditional networking and business processes. In the most recent developments, it was the younger generation who were the early adopters in this recent trend toward social engagement. They sought (and found) face-to-face and virtual relationships based on shared interests, thrived on using just-in-time communication methods (like short messages on phone or instant messaging interfaces in lieu of email), and enjoyed connecting to people they met through friends and acquaintances to create, collect, and share content and information.

As these young early adopters move to the workforce, they will bring their expectations with them, and will demand access to the building blocks used to construct their lives thus far. The companies that employ them can choose to adapt to these needs, or they can try the "old-school" way and require adaptation by their new hires. The former will create an atmosphere of trust and an environment of innovation and collaboration. The latter is likely to result in a quick trip to "the company formerly known as" land.

What do you think?


Morgan, B. W. (1998). Strategy and enterprise value in the relationship economy. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold

Peterson, Rob (2003, November 13). The Relationship Economy - UPEI Jan - March 2003. Rob's Thought (Blog). Available at

Searls, D. (2007, February 15) Building an Relationship Economy. Linux Journal. Available at


carterfsmith said...

See Jay Hargis' post on the The Relationship Employer -

The Relationship Employer, defined as the employer that is connected with its employees and their professional networks, understands that employees are voluntary contributors of their human capital and they choose to contribute to the organizations bottom line.

carterfsmith said...

See this:

Is MySpace Good for Society? A Freakonomics Quorum
By Stephen J. Dubner

Two little words — “social networking” — have become a giant buzzphrase over the past couple of years, what with the worldwide march of Facebook and headline-ready stories about Web-assisted suicides. So what’s the net effect of social networking?
We gathered a group of wise people who spend their days thinking about this issue — Martin Baily, Danah Boyd, Steve Chazin, Judith Donath, Nicole Ellison, and William Reader, — and asked them this question:
Has social networking technology (blog-friendly phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) made us better or worse off as a society, either from an economic, psychological, or sociological perspective?
Here are their replies.