In the past, I’ve written about various economic trends and ideas that have been fascinating to me, from the LOHAS movement and Conscious Capitalism, to Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and how the digital revolution has impacted the global economy. To that list, I now add the concept of the “Collaborative Economy.”
In a talk last week at Google’s San Francisco office (while attending a session for an American Marketing Association conference), I was lucky enough to hear directly from the founder of the Silicon Valley-based Crowd Companies himself, Jeremiah Owyang. According to Owyang, the collaborative economy can be defined as: “an economic model where creation, ownership, and access are shared between people and corporations.” What role do corporations play if people get what they need from each other?
Owyang’s research focuses around the crowd economy, specifically how the collaboration between crowds is impacting the economy by overtaking inefficient systems. Below follows a recent presentation that expands more on the concept, illustrated specifically by the honeycomb model that breaks down the impact of the collaborative economy by industry.
In thinking about how this concept helps consolidate other theories, let’s first take a look at three of the other previously mentioned concepts I’ve written about:
- LOHAS – Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) describes an estimated $290 billion U.S. marketplace for goods and services focused on health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living. Approximately 13-19% percent of the adults in the U.S. are currently considered LOHAS Consumers. Research shows that one in four adult Americans is part of this group—nearly 41 million people. These consumers are the future of business and also the future of progressive social, environmental and economic change in this country. But their power as a consumer market remains virtually untapped.
- Conscious Capitalism – Conscious Capitalism builds on the foundations of Capitalism – voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade and the rule of law. These are essential to a healthy functioning economy, as are other elements of Conscious Capitalism including trust, compassion, collaboration and value creation.
- Integral Theory – Integral theory, a philosophy with origins in the work of Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser, and promoted by Ken Wilber, seeks a synthesis of the best of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern reality. It is portrayed as a “theory of everything” and offers an approach “to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching.” It has been applied by scholar-practitioners in 35 distinct academic and professional domains as varied as art and organizational management.
What all three ideas have in common is that capitalism at its core, is changing (Integral Theory actually just takes a much broader view of why underlying economic systems are changing). Each idea above offers a different way of looking at this issue. For example, the LOHAS movement makes a strong case that the consumer is fundamentally changing. Conscious Capitalism highlights the idea that businesses are becoming more trustworthy and compassionate in an economy where that is quickly becoming more valued. And, Integral Theory takes a huge step back and looks and the whole picture to make the case that our economy (and human consciousness itself) is at an inflection point, constantly evolving and in the midst of emerging into a new framework to accommodate outdated modes.
The takeaway? Wondering how to adapt, succeed, and progress in the age of the Collaborative Economy? In his talk, Jeremiah mentioned five key takeaways that are worth sharing again here for business professionals and marketers alike:
- Digital empowers people to get what they need from each other
- The crowd is becoming like a company, bypassing inefficient systems
- Like social, corporations must use these same strategies to regain relevancy
- This requires business model change: product > service > marketplace > repeat
- Become resilient: connected, empowering others, built to last, and profitable
You can learn more about the honeycomb model, here.