Federated networks and the emergent support economy

Networked individuals are the future of enterprise.

In their enormously impressive (and sometimes intimidating) book “The Support Economy” by Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin the authors identify eleven new “Metaprinciples” for the emergent “support economy”.

Despite the sometimes off-putting terminology, such as 'relationship value' and 'deep support', I believe an understanding of the principles of “federated support networks” will be important for those who seek to develop virtual enterprise networks(VENs), virtual supply chains and virtual professional communities (VPCs).

The authors' vision of the future concurs with my own that enterprise will be largely delivered through highly fluid networks rather than today's monolithic corporate structures.

Furthermore they suggest that the dominant value player in these networks will shift from being firms and supply chains to networked individuals.

The “MetaPrinciples”

  1. All value resides in individuals
  2. Distributed value necessitates distributed structures among all aspects of the enterprise
  3. Relationship value is the framework for wealth creation
  4. Markets are self-authoring
  5. Deep support is the new "metaproduct"
  6. Federated support networks are the new competitors
  7. All commercial practices are aligned with the individual
  8. Infrastructure convergence redefines costs and frees resources
  9. Federations are infinitely configurable
  10. New valuation methods reflect the primacy of individual space
  11. A new consumption means a new employment

In the rest of the article I have extracted a few sentences to try and give you a flavour of each principle but you really will have to buy the book to get to grips with them!

More on the “MetaPrinciples”

1. All value resides in individuals.

This is the fundamental inversion that reveals a wholly new system and entails the distributed imperative. Individuals are recognized as the source of all value and all cash flow. This value is realized through relationships of deep support with individuals and is distributed in individual space.

2. Distributed value necessitates distributed structures among all aspects of the enterprise.

Value is distributed, lodged in individuals. This is the common origin for corresponding distributed structures in every aspect of the enterprise. It necessitates distributed production, distributed ownership, and distributed control.

3. Relationship value is the framework for wealth creation.

Distributed capitalism creates wealth from the essential building blocks of relationships with individuals. Using the new framework of relationship value, enterprises and their federations invest in commitment and trust in order to maximize realized relationship value.

4. Markets are self-authoring.

Markets for deep support are formed in individual space as individuals opt into fluid, dynamic constituencies that hold the possibility of community for individuals as well as for the federation advocates who provide deep support.

5. Deep support is the new "metaproduct".

In the support economy, relationship value is realized as the enterprise assumes total accountability and responsibility for every aspect of the consumption experience. Products and services are merely the vehicles for the delivery of deep support, which is the "metaproduct" that defines the new commerce.

6. Federated support networks are the new competitors.

Under distributed capitalism, enterprises are linked into federated support networks. These dynamic and fluid federations are the new competitors. They achieve economics and differentiation through the configuration, quality, and consolidation of deep support in each relationship, while providing unique aggregations of products and services.

7. All commercial practices are aligned with the individual.

Under distributed capitalism, commercial practices are aligned with the interests of individuals and the requirements of deep support. This is operationalized by a strict dictate that cannot be compromised: No cash is released into the federation and its enterprises until the individual pays.

8. Infrastructure convergence redefines costs and frees resources.

Under distributed capitalism, a wholly new approach to utilizing the digital medium makes it possible to merge infrastructure activities within and across all federated networks, by eliminating the replication of functional and administrative activities that exist within today's organizations.

9. Federations are infinitely configurable.

Under distributed capitalism, federations can use intellectual, emotional, digital, and physical assets to produce infinite configurations of deep support by and for individuals. No single template provides a universal formula for realizing relationship value, because each individual or constituency determines the right configuration for deep support in his life now.

10. New valuation methods reflect the primacy of individual space.

New approaches to valuation emphasize the intellectual, emotional, behavioural, and digital assets that enable infinite configuration, sustain alliances among enterprises, and nourish relationships of deep support with individuals. A federation's competitiveness depends upon its ability to nurture and leverage these intangibles, alongside its physical assets.

11. A new consumption means a new employment.

The distributed imperative that arises from the individuation of consumption also leads to the distributed characteristics of responsibility and authority. This necessitates a new "employment" relationship, including new career rights and a new managerial canon based upon collaborative coordination.

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Ken, you may be interested in my work which, among other things, seeks to apply the fundamentals of The Support Economy approach.

An Integrative Improvement Institutes Project is underway to further advance the approach. I could email you the latest paper on it if you wish.


Your irrefutable knowledge in this area is only enhanced when you take the initiative to share this 'knowledge'.

After all, I hope that sometime in the near future, the concepts of the knowledge ecnomy will manifest in the form of such VENs, VSNs and VPCs - maybe there is a universal focus which is consistent across these three, I think its their priority in assessing opportunities and using this leverage off a resource pool.

This is very interesting....



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