New Power | Jeremy Heimans

Summary of: New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World–And How to Make It Work for You
By: Jeremy Heimans


Welcome to the world of ‘New Power’, where the age-old hierarchical structures are being challenged and transformed by the ever-increasing connectivity of people and ideas. In this book summary, you will explore how new power dynamics are reshaping the way we participate in various aspects of our lives, be it civic, political, or economic. Discover how technology is redefining organizations, enabling greater collaboration, and empowering individuals, while also revealing tensions between traditional command structures and new, fluid ways of functioning. As you learn about the values, models, and techniques at play, you will gain an understanding of how to harness the potential of new power in the 21st-century hyperconnected world.

The Rise of New Power

In the past, society was imagined as a giant machine where people had limited opportunities to meaningfully participate in any role. Companies hoarded power and made decisions for those participating in their systems. But with hyperconnected technology, the horizontality of power distribution is changing our behavior. We now have the tools to easily meet other like-minded people, lobby for change, and organize resistance. This has created a demand for a right to participate, as exemplified by Letitia Browne-James. A lifetime epileptic, Browne-James found PatientsLikeMe, an online community of thousands of patients sharing experiences, recommendations, and personal medical data. Through the platform, she discovered that brain surgery is an effective treatment for epilepsy, which her previous neurologist had never discussed with her. By taking control of her healthcare and using new power, Browne-James underwent the surgery and has been seizure-free for five years.

Old Power vs New Power

This book reveals the fundamental differences between the two systems of power and the way they shape society. Using the comparison of a parent and child, the author explains how old power is characterized by centralized governance, competitiveness and secrecy; while new power promotes decentralized networks, collaboration and transparency. The shift also affects individuals, as traditional passive consumers become makers and temporary affiliation replaces long-term commitment to brands. This insightful guide explores the transformations underway and their implications for work, politics and social life.

Old Power vs New Power

When it comes to power systems, it’s not just about the values, but also the models they are built on. Old power models follow a pyramid structure with centralized decision-making, while new power models distribute power among participants. However, organizations can blend both new and old power models. Patagonia is an example of a company that uses old-power models but collaborates with its customers to promote sustainability. Facebook, on the other hand, uses a new-power model but does not value transparency or user input. It’s important to understand the differences between old and new power models to build effective and ethical organizations.

The SUCCESS and ACE Principles of Sticky Ideas

How can ideas stick and spread in the digital age? Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick introduced the SUCCESS acronym for crafting sticky ideas- simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories. But now, ACE- actionable, connection, and extensibility- is the key to making ideas spread. Actionable ideas encourage participation, connected ideas harness the power of online networking, and extensible ideas allow participants to remix and alter them while maintaining their structure. The Ice Bucket Challenge effectively employed ACE by requiring action, utilizing social networks, and encouraging remixing.

Five Steps to Harness the Power of Crowds

New power cannot be hoarded by corporations. Anyone can harness it but first, you need to build a crowd. Here are five steps to harness the power of crowds:

Step one involves finding your connected connectors: the influential individuals who share your vision.

Step two is building a brand that embodies new power. An example of this is Airbnb, who relaunched its brand to be remixed.

Step three and four involve lowering barriers for participation and moving users up the participation scale. Tinder is an example of how to lower barriers while funding, producing and shaping a community is an example of reaching the top of the scale.

Finally, sometimes, a crowd will form from a “storm” of engagement, and you need to be ready to harness the changing weather. An example of this is the Australian activist network, Getup, succeeding in hijacking a charity auction and crowdfunding a winning bid for a young Afghan refugee.

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