The Death Of Traditional Strategy – And The Rise Of Connected Business

Nilofer Merchant says; ‘value can come from any individuals – inside and outside the organisation’. She explains that co-creation, collaboration and open innovation are more relevant than traditional business school text books.

It is the powerful and traditional organisations that will lose out to those that are smaller, nimbler and more connected. In her recent essay and pod cast the excellent Nilofer Merchant describes how in the Social Era the herd of fast-moving gazelles will beat the 800lb gorilla. And with this in mind, she has also written the obituary for Traditional Marketing Strategy.  RIP, Traditional Strategy: 1930-2012. We loved your work – and it was great knowing you…

The Death Of Traditional Marketing Strategy

Most marketing professionals loved Traditional Strategy. Whilst it was still alive, it influenced what we learnt in the lecture theatre, it shaped our business language and dominated our commercial conversations.  It was rare not to have  meetings dominated by important questions relating to sustainable competitive advantage, long-term planning, efficiencies, growth and sustaining markets. But as Merchant points out, these concepts, valuable and useful as they were, are becoming increasingly less important or even irrelevant. In our  hyper competitive world,  it is speed, flexibility and contacts that make a difference and in this recent video Steffan Lindegaard explains that innovation is reliant on connections and networks, not traditional planning, power and controls.

Merchant, in her new book 11 Rules For The Social Era  is very quick to point out that the Social Era of business is NOT just about social media. She says; ‘Social is and can be more than media’. For her, it’s about a real change in how companies today can attract and build value. Value creation is no longer a factor of departmental structures, in-house teams, process and plans from Jerry on the fifth floor. Merchant says  that; ‘value can come from any individuals – inside and outside the organisation’. She explains that the ideas and concepts of co-creation, collaboration and open innovation are the more relevant than traditional business school text book approaches. To quote from her excellent blog in Harvard Business Review;

“The industrial era primarily honoured the institution as a construct of creating value. And the information age (including Web 1.0 and 2.0) primarily honoured the value of data that can provide institutional value. The Social Era honours the value with the single unit of a connected human”

Yes, the connected human. Those who have  attended our CollaborationCafes will know that we focus on sharpening the ability to connect, to build on the ideas of others and work with diverse groups internally and externally. Its a soft tactical skill increasingly recognised as vital to succeeding in a new era of social competitiveness – where partnerships and allies are needed for innovation. (see my pieces; The Partnership Paradox and Building A Collaborative Business for more research and details on this). Merchant refers to the success of TED, as a useful example of how different the world has – and will become. It’s a world where connections and influence are increasingly valuable and where transactional thinking gives way to a partnership mentality. The value of contributing to TED is the chance to be part of their community and connections – that may, eventually become monetised. But the reason for contributing to TED is more than measurable clicks and likes. It’s about an individual standing for genuine ideas and building true influence by giving up something that only recently they would have charged for; their knowledge, insight, research and ideas.

Merchant notes that whilst large companies use Social Media or other tools to try to make them more open and collaborative too often these are mere tweaks. At their core, they still have a culture and structure that means they act like  that giant gorilla and cling to the spirit of Traditional Strategy. The modern corporation however, such as Twitter and Starbucks have not had to rethink their culture to fit this connected Social Era of business. They were born and grew up in this Social Era, with an approach that embraced community, openness and innovation.

You can read the full article by Nilofer Merchant here and listen to her pod-cast here.

For more information on maximising collaboration, innovation and partnerships please visit

For further posts, research and articles please visit at

Author: Andrew Armour

Andrew Armour is a marketing and media professional, a specialist in business partnerships and the Founder of the consulting business - Benchstone Limited. His career spans from the UK music industry to the America's Cup, from winning agency pitches to securing key digital content deals. He is married to Viv, lives in Hampshire and works in London.

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