The Future Of Business Is Community — Goodbye Hierarchy, Hello DAO
When we think about businesses, it's easy to imagine them in a hierarchical structure. But what if we could change the way we ran businesses to a decentralized system? What changes would this bring?
Community is the foundation of the fourth industrial revolution.
Communities are the drivers of decentralized organizations. Decentralized organizations don't have one central decision-maker. Instead, they consist of members who work together toward something they believe. Participating in a community provides a sense of purpose and belonging.
During the first industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, the world transitioned from hand production methods to machines. In the late 19th century, the second industrial revolution introduced electricity. The third industrial revolution used computers and electronics to automate production.
The fourth industrial revolution is taking place right now. It's led by technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, nanotechnology, and quantum computing. However, the fourth industrial revolution is not just about technology. It is also a shift from businesses operating as centralized organizations to decentralized organizations. Communities are the foundation of this new industrial revolution.
Community-building will be one of the most important roles in this new era.
Traditional organizations face a significant challenge in fostering connectedness amongst their employees. Right now, most workplaces are siloed and hierarchical because that's just how things have always been done.
Hierarchy implies a chain of command, which often leads to miscommunication between people at different levels in the organization. Hierarchy also limits access to information, leads to unproductive meetings, and hinders innovation. On top of it, hierarchy can make it difficult to establish a culture of trust among employees.
In contrast, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) put ownership and decision-making in the hands of the community. While there's no single blueprint for creating a DAO, these three key areas can help accelerate an organization's transition from old ways to new:
- Rethink work culture with a human-centered approach
- Build an open and transparent community
- Establish processes to encourage engagement and empowerment
The role of the leader is shifting from directing to connecting, and the best leaders will have a deep understanding of human psychology and community dynamics. I believe that community builders are the new business leaders.
How do you create a decentralized community?
Communities are powerful. They bring people together, help us feel connected, and empower us to work together toward a common goal. The internet has given us all an unprecedented opportunity to connect with new people — who, in turn, can help us build relationships with more people that we would never be able to meet otherwise.
The need for an online community is only increasing as technology continues to automate more tasks and roles. In order to stay relevant, we need to find ways to create deep connections with our colleagues, whether they're sitting right next door or on another continent.
Communities are especially important for brands. Communities can provide companies with valuable insights into consumer behavior, allowing them to create better products and services — not to mention the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing and brand advocacy.
Building a community around your brand doesn't happen overnight. Community, like any relationship, requires patience, commitment, and active participation. It's harder than ever to turn customers into passionate brand advocates, because people have more choices than ever before — so much so that a single product or service has the potential to be replaced by any number of competitors at any moment.
A community is more than a network of customers; it is an ecosystem of value exchange, where members receive benefits for participating, and where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Communities don't form around companies; they form around concepts and philosophies.
Companies are typically too centralized to become rallying points for an active community. In business, the most successful companies of the future will be those that recognize their communities as their primary assets. A DAO is an emerging business model that drives this concept forward by transforming these communities into fully functional organizations. A DAO operates on the basis of transparent decision-making rules and no centralized authority.
A decentralized community has no central point of failure. Instead, governance is decentralized among the members of the DAO itself, who have equal voting rights within the organization's regulations. DAOs allow for more democratic decision-making processes and greater transparency within organizations (all votes are public). They also increase accountability because members must abide by the rules on which they themselves voted.
In short, I believe that the future of business will be more collaborative (and more decentralized) than the hierarchical organizations of today. More people will share in decision-making, and more decisions will be made by consensus. People will work where they find meaning and value, both in their work itself and in the people with whom they work. Those who are happiest at work will be the ones who have figured out how best to integrate their personal mission into the collective mission of their organization.