Make no mistake: The era of freedom is a threat to business. It does not resemble anything that we have seen before, and the governance structures, organizational models, corporate cultures, and leadership styles that proved successful in the past need to adapt. ‘Freedom From’ is being manufactured in unexpected places, and arriving at every company’s front door in unexpected ways. No organization can ignore the change that is coming— or, indeed, the change that is underway—any more than a Middle Eastern government could ignore the uprising sparked by the act of a single Tunisian fruit vendor in 2010.
Companies that deny this trend, that instead seek to impose more powerful controls and erect walls to keep freedom at bay, will find that their smartest minds, most loyal customers, and most valuable partners will drift away and seek freedom with others. On the other extreme, a few enterprises have already started to devote energy and resources to fostering ‘Freedom From/Freedom To’ in relationships that matter. Some have the advantage of business models born of the era of freedom, but others are old-line companies reinventing themselves for the new age.