Flat is the new rotund

Dec 18 2006 by Janet Howd Print This Article

"Welcome to a New Age of Self Reliance in a flattening global society of equals," wrote Tom Peters at Tom Peters.com on 20th November,

Yes. But how is flat going to work in the round? And if they can't see further than their noses, how will these New Agers make sure they don't waste time re-inventing the wheel?

Peters suggests that these new-fangled entrepreneurs are going to be, "at once distinctly Solo and distinctly about creating and minding a Network-Community of, mostly, one's own construction."

But how long will they be content to remain large fish in small pools, especially now the cult of international celebrity is so dominant in our world?

How will they seek out new horizons, gain new perspectives and achieve new goals if they side step the giants on whose shoulders, Bernard of Chartres first suggested, those of smaller stature who wish to further their knowledge should stand?

These and many more questions about the value of hierarchy have given me much food for thought since reading Tom Peters' Thanksgiving blog.

On seriously considering how a flattening global society could possibly work, it dawned on me that mankind has always defined and shared knowledge on a horizontal plane.

All information has been derived from jots or tittles or from pictorial representation and disseminated on flat surfaces: cave walls, stone tablets, scrolls of parchment or books.

Words have always been read from left to right or right to left or top down; figures notated in rows. Sound has always been stored on flat discs. Even fossil records are pressed flat.

As for losing the height advantage of giant shoulders: well, that notion is centuries old. It was formulated way before the West had invented the printing press let alone the typewriter, and long before we could speak to and see each other over the miles.

In this day and age we have the world wide web to which people of all statures can cling while furthering their knowledge and sharing the news.

We can search out the four corners of the globe on line. We can reach the moon, the sun and the stars and see them better in virtual detail than we could ever do no matter how much time or money we were to spend travelling to them in actuality.

Entrepreneurs of the future don't need to clamber onto look-out- points for profit when pixels producing reality in virtual time on flat screens can be sold for paper dollars in real time!

On reflection then - maybe it is possible for loads of new leaders to turn loads of small teams into distinctive and profitable companies in a brave new world of flat. Indeed, in one unprecedented respect, it seems an extremely desirable business outcome.

If, as seems likely, we are shortly going to have stop travellers from flying into each other's air space as counter to the threat of global warming, then creating a more diffuse and self reliant global business model in advance of that shut down makes good sense.

We are fortunate indeed to have evolved a means of universal communication - sited on a level attainable by all - through which we can continue to share and grow knowledge just at the very moment that climate change threatens to cause us all to drift further apart.

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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.