by: Karl Long

In this fascinating interview on Charlie Rose, Lawrence Lessig provides some interesting comments about “hybrid economies” where companies co-create value with their customers. As he says some companies, mostly new and small, are already adopting this hybrid economic model, but bigger companies in the future will be transformed by this.

Most companies look at what consumers create, co-create, and share with the world as some kind of free resource to be exploited in what ever way they can, but the winners in the future will be the companies that can create ecosystems in which all the participants are valued, rewarded, promoted, and empowered. Companies are going to increasingly have to treat their customers as contributers and stakeholders in their business, and the concept of where a company begins and ends will blur.

Social Media is the engine behind this massive and slow moving change and for most companies change is not something that can be avoided. Anyone who thinks that social media is about influence, popularity, or an audience is sorely mistaken and business models built on that will be shaky at best. Social media provides the tools to empower and lead a legion of people who believe in your vision, be they customers, employees, partners or competitors, the opportunity right now for all companies is to be a change agent for your industry, are you up for the challenge.

BTW this was the topic of a recent talk/presentation I gave at Inverge and the Social Media Marketing summit, it was titled “Employing Your Customers For Fun and Profit”, I hope to have video of that soon. I’ve had some companies express an interest in having me come in and do the presentation for them and I’m happy to share it, time permitting.

Anyway, don’t just take mine and Lawrence Lessig’s word for it, check out these books if you are interested in this transformation of business.

The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers by Prahalad & Ramaswamy

“web-empowered consumers will usher in “a new industrial system” characterized by “co-creating value through personalized experiences unique to the individual consumer.” Under the new regime, headstrong consumers will “seek to exercise their influence in every part of the business system,” and companies will accommodate them by, for example, allowing them to design their own individualized cosmetics and houseboats (an innovation whose benefits include “emotional bonding with… the company” and “a greater degree of self-esteem”).”

Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig and it’s associated blog page here

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky

Also watch this video of Clay at the web 2.0 expo where he puts into describes the massive cognitive surplus that enables huge projects like Wikipedia to be created, and how much of it is available

Related: Kaplak Blog has an excellent write up of the Rose/Lessig interview as well, worth reading.

Also follow Lawrence on Clay Shirky at and me if you like at

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