New rules for a new age?

Shoshana Zuboff was the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and in a remarkable post she has apologised for all the harm she and her colleagues have done to the business world.

I have come to believe that much of what my colleagues and I taught has caused real suffering, suppressed wealth creation, destabilized the world economy, and accelerated the demise of the 20th century capitalism in which the U.S. played the leading role.
We weren’t stupid and we weren’t evil. Nevertheless we managed to produce a generation of managers and business professionals that is deeply mistrusted and despised by a majority of people in our society and around the world. This is a terrible failure.

She now believes business schools should be teaching new rules:

1. Graduate to the I-Space: focus on customers as individuals as Amazon, ebay and Apple have done and not on the administrative
2. Advocate don’t alienate: listen to what customers want and help; don’t just build products and sell
3. Collaborate and federate to compete: you can’t do it alone.

As it happens the apology might not be without its self-serving side: Ms Zuboff has written a book called The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism.

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