My friend and colleague Leonardo Maldonado recently pointed out a great problem in the way that most of the social networking websites look at connections among people online. I believe that Leonardo sees this as a viewpoint from the USA, and after my travels, I can understand why. Leonardo says: No somos Gringos!!!! (“We aren’t Gringos”) speaking about his background of being from Chile… with the prevailing view that most Americans (from the USA) are focused only on transactional relationships (the kind that you might have if you walk into a coffee shop and ask for just a coffee) versus longer term, deeper “relational” relationships. In this post, Leonardo says: “No nos miramos como agentes individuales que van realizando conexiones con otros para obtener beneficios operacionales tácticos… no usamos nuestras relaciones…. somos nuestras relaciones!!!”. (Rough translation: “We don’t look as individual agents that are going to realize connections with others to obtain tactical operational benefit…. we don’t use our relationships… we are our relationships!”)
Out of the research that I have previously done on different economic development models, one of my favorite comes from the Sirolli Institute. In fact, as I have talked with some of you about- the notion of building an Aikido style network of entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs, part of my grounding in these ideas came from both my father’s background as a psychologist, through which I was exposed to the work of Carl Rogers (and reminded by Ernesto Sirolli). From a recent forum post at the Sirolli Institute, this reminder came up from Mike Chitty:
[Carl Rogers:]”How can I treat, or cure, or change this person?”
Despite his best intentions, it didn’t work.
Ultimately, Rogers changed his approach, asking,
“How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his or her own personal growth?”
I think that Rogers’ experience speaks to the heart of Enterprise Facilitation.
The effective Facilitator asks:
“How can my relationships with others encourage them to grow in self-confidence, passion, skill and clarity of purpose?”
And from Mike Chitty’s signature, again: “The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, imagination, and resources of its people.” There is no way to push people/ entrepreneurs into healthily growing their businesses. Healthy businesses emerge by engaging entrepreneurs’ passion, removing road blocks, and supporting each other side by side.
Carl Rogers work in psychology, which provides us with a powerful blueprint of how to build community (and therefore successful business marketplaces) is echoed loud and clear in another more recent book by Ron Kurtz, called Body-Centered Psychotherapy: The Hakomi Method where Kurtz states:
We [Hakomi trained psychologists] are there to help them: first as they reach out towards what they might achieve, then as they struggle and work for their full humanity, and finally, when they come to it. This is very special work. In this process, violence is not only useless, it is inevitably harmful.
Why might you ask am I looking to psychology for models to support social networks of entrepreneurs? It is my belief that as we entrepreneurs begin to organize at interesting levels of scale (say in the ten thousands to hundred thousands) that non-violent ways of interacting in our social networks will be essential for building a stronger network, stronger business connections, and a stronger marketplace. Market control will shift naturally away from dominiate bullies towards businesses and entrepreneurs that know and embody the skills of playing fair… for there will be no place to hide bad manners or poor business practices in the coming business Internet marketplace.
I will write more about social networks, and how I see them being employed to build strong businesses (and other civic initiatives), especially with these psychological and philosophical ideas for interaction in coming post.
Frank Fullard’s recent comment on this blog brought me some interest to check out who is checking out my blog (ain’t the blogging world grand :-)). In reading about his recent post about Women’s Vision For Their Future and his notes about Enterprise Ireland, I was reminded of some of the research that I did in support of Chile and Fernando Flores while I was in Chile in 2003.
In a very short time (one decade), Estonia, Finland, and Ireland have created “economic miricles” in creating unprecedented wealth in each of their countries…. especially for Finland and Estonia in shifting from Soviet centric markets to becoming first world market powerhouses.
Chile is undertaking a similar economic transformation… which they call “Chile 2010“. The shift in the underlying feeling in the country is substantial (I traveled to Chile in 1997, 1998, and 1999, as well as living there in 2003 and visiting several times since 2003).
It is my belief that this shift in each one of these countries is happening for two reasons- one because of the underlying belief that a change is possible in each country, and secondly, programs that are supporting individual entrepreneurs to build their businesses (not just conditions that favor large corporations, but conditions that favor the individual entrepreneur).
Thank you Frank for reminding me of this connection to Enterprise Ireland. And thank you as well for reading and commenting on my blog, and increasing the types of interactions that are possible by sharing this knowledge world wide.
- Prudent: You trust the person that you are dealing with, and you have a history of reasons to trust them. This is the day in and day out of business; Risk is minimal compared to other interactions, because of a shared history or reason that loyalty will be enforced in the relationship.
- Shortsighted: In the category to the upper right, “you don’t trust” but you have a reason to trust the party that you are dealing with. This lack of trust prevents actions to take place, and is a sign of limited opportunity for the business or community that the parties come from.
- Safe, but Powerless: The lower right quadrant is safe- for you might have reasons to not trust the parties that you are dealing with, and correspondingly, you decide not to trust (and not to take action together). There might be safety in not going to the market, but there will resultingly be no trade, no commerce, and therefore no wealth.
- High Risk: The fourth quadrant- to the lower left- is where real risk and therefore real opportunity is. In this quadrant, prospective business partners have little certainty on working with each other… as an example, perhaps in engaging an expert that lives in a different country would fall in this category. In this case, entrepreneurs must learn and practice how to open themselves up to these opportunities, without making themselves vulnerable
Why is there “real opportunity” in this lower left hand quadrant? The answer is truly a numbers game… there will always be more people in the world that there are reasons to not do business with them (e.g. this other person is in a different country, I know nothing about their culture, etc.) But if you can find a way to take care of creating trust and strong commitments between the parties that you are doing business with, great opportunity can come from these interaction, far exceeding the numbers of opportunities that will ever be served by your direct network of quadrant #1.