We are not Social Media experts. We’re not Six Sigma pundits. And we don’t have all the answers.

In fact, we are skeptical of people who claim they know all the answers and provide them through Org Charts, Twitter pages or pie-in-the-sky strategy decks.
We are simply people across a wide range of communications and management disciplines with the unifying belief that businesses need to adapt and transform in the new reality of a post-consumption economy.

We see an incredible economic opportunity if we develop new ways to reframe problems, seize emerging opportunities and design solutions by looking behind the consumption-oriented economic model.
Just as we emerged from the dark ages to a new era of social and artistic enlightenment, we are now entering the post-industrial and post-Lehman age with the realization that the well-being of our economy should not be based on consumption alone and focus more on the human element.

For more than 100 years, businesses have focused on driving efficiencies, improving processes and increasing shareholder value. With the advent of new technologies, businesses invested billions of dollars in technology and transaction systems to reduce latency and inefficiency in value chains. “Six Sigma” is the epitome of this focus and thinking. However, the ROI on further optimizing processes for operational excellence is diminishing because of the human element. Unless you’re an Android, you can only be that productive, that efficient, that process-oriented without losing your humanity.

As Super Social Primates, our need to connect with others is deeply ingrained into our DNA. This is the reason why solitary confinement is regarded as the ultimate punishment. And babies with a loving relationship to their family have dramatically better chances to succeed. New and intuitive technologies have allowed us to connect with people in ways we could not have imagined a few years back. But we warn against the focus on technology: Too much energy and attention has been spent talking about CRM/Social Media/Networking technologies that many have missed the point: without people none of that matters.

Our thinking is based on the fundamentals of human needs and behavior. Technologies are just tools to tap into these needs, allow for connections and enable like-minded to come together. These technologies are merely the platforms for connecting and sharing. And they allow people to deliver on the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. By linking, commenting, discussing and sharing, individuals gain authority and influence in the social space and thereby develop and increase their own levels of esteem.

We see a lot of encouraging signs that thought leaders and innovative practitioners are trying to incorporate principles of social networking/computing into the enterprise. Some call it Enterprise 2.0, human-centered design or Social Business Design. These models assume that humans are rational primates, always acting in their best interest.

The financial meltdown and newest studies in Behavioral Economics are super-sized reminders that the human mind is continually trying to perceive things that aren’t true, and not perceiving them takes enormous effort.

Our brains evolved to suit a world much simpler than the one we now face. We tend to believe data to confirm our prejudices and ignore data contradicting them; we overvalue recent events when anticipating future possibilities; we weave single multiple events into a causal narrative; we applaud our own expertise and skills in circumstances when we’ve actually benefited from dumb luck.

In short, we had to learn that we’re predictably irrational (to borrow from Dan Ariely’s fascinating book). In ‘The Happiness Hypothesis” Jonathan Haidt compares the self to a rider on the back of an elephant. He writes:

“The image that I came up with for myself, as I marveled at my weakness, was that I was a rider on the back of an elephant. I’m holding the reins in my hands, and by pulling one way or the other I can tell the elephant to turn, to stop, or to go. I can direct things, but only when the elephant doesn’t have desires of his own. When the elephant really wants to do something, I’m no match for him.”

For the longest time, institutions have focused on the little boy while tinkering with the elephant. And we’ve optimized the little boy for the longest until we finally hit the wall. It’s time to focus our attention on the elephant and tap into its enormous potential. We don’t believe current models effectively stimulate the endless potential of human emotion and creativity.

For that reason, we propose a new model: Human Business Design.
What is Human Business Design? It is a model based in the belief that all human interactions/conversation inside and outside of your organization matter now: The way human beings are motivated to connect and create value has changed. Every business has to realize that it is a co-creative eco-system that includes its employees, partners, competitors and customers and the way they are motivated to create and realize value is the only measure of success.

Organizations need to provide a framework for their customer base (and entire ecosystem) to participate in the co-creation of meaningful value. The new paradigm is co-creation, co-operation on bigger ideas than just the motivation to consume. Each good organization has a big vision behind its products and services. And the goal has to be that all stakeholders work on this bigger vision.

This allows us to merge the left-brain efficiencies of organizations with the right-brain imagination of hyper-connected human beings, creating new value propositions nobody ever imagined.