Just read an article written in 2002(!!) about the book The Support Economy. In this Harvard Business School article Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin discuss about the “rift between corporations and society”. Here some nice passages:
A century ago mass consumption was on the rise. People wanted more things. The answer was to produce more goods at an ever-lower cost—mass production. Corporations were organized around a managerial hierarchy invented to provide a tight inward focus on the increasingly complex processes of production and distribution. This was a massive innovation over the older model of a single owner who tried to oversee everything. Under managerial capitalism, ownership became dispersed, but control remained concentrated in the management group.
The evolution from one episode of capitalism to another is a normal historical process. Just as mercantile capitalism was displaced by proprietary capitalism, and that new form was later displaced by managerial capitalism, it makes sense that managerial capitalism will be displaced by a new, more comprehensive form that better serves today’s populations.
Capitalism’s capacity to evolve and its incredible versatility have proven to be the single most important source of its robustness and success. In fact, capitalism has avoided devastating crises not because it is fixed, but because it changes. Each historical episode of capitalism has a limited range of adaptation, however. As markets and technologies undergo historic change, so too must the current model of capitalism.
The new individuals have plenty of things. They have access to plenty of services. But they now yearn for something that corporations have not perceived, let alone put on offer: the kind of support that will enable them to live the lives they choose.
People’s desires, needs and wants have radically changed, but corporations have remained distant and indifferent to the true nature of this change. As a result, we have a business environment in which people are chronically disappointed and frustrated by their experiences as consumers and employees. We no longer trust large organizations to serve our needs. On every level, we are experiencing a divisive “us vs. them” mentality.
Each new episode of capitalism emerges from the complex interplay of three forces: (1) New human yearnings that create a new approach to consumption and new kinds of markets, (2) technologies capable of addressing the demands of the new markets, and (3) a new enterprise logic that can link employees, technologies, and markets in new ways.
The fire is laid. What’s needed is the match. Many people already sense that there must be a better and more relevant way of doing capitalism. The search is on for a new enterprise logic that will fundamentally alter the orientation, purpose, and economics of commerce. The Support Economy is intended to contribute to that search as it invites discussion of a new enterprise logic that we call distributed capitalism. Watch the flames when these three forces finally combine. That will mark the real discontinuity between the economy of the twentieth century and that of the twenty-first.[Note: I think it is happening now]
In our chapter called “Rediscovering the End Consumer, Over and Over Again” we show how most “new” business concepts are simply self-referring. They do not move beyond the rules of a certain way of doing capitalism, and therefore they cannot possibly alter the problems they target. Instead, just the opposite occurs—the status quo overpowers new ideas and turns them into variations on the same old themes. That is why every innovation from quality circles to reengineering to customer relationships turns out to be another road to cost reduction.
Deep support means “getting my life back.” In order to provide this, deep support means that commercial entities absorb both accountability and responsibility for every aspect of the consumption experience. Deep support enables psychological self-determination. It produces time for life. It facilitates and enhances the experience of being the origin of one’s life. It recognizes, responds to, and promotes individuality. It celebrates intricacy. It multiplies choice and enhances flexibility. It encourages voice and is guided by voice. Deep support listens and offers connection. It offers a collaborative relationship defined by advocacy. It is founded on trust, reciprocity, authenticity, intimacy, and absolute reliability.