Flat World Navigation | Book Review

Kim Chandler McDonald introduces the DACE (Digital, Attention, and Collaboration Economies) with refreshing, interview-propelled stories. She smartly places Abbreviations & Common Phrases before her introduction, for example defining Flat World Navigators as (p. xxix):

Connectors and bridge builders who make and maintain dynamic networks and business relationships.

Energetically blurring professional and personal worlds, McDonald describes these super networkers as individuals with a willingness -- often an eagerness -- to connect, communicate and explore potential adventures and ventures to share (p. xxvi).

The Future is Here | Uncertainty

The U.S. Army War College describes the VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous age we have reached (p. 2), or according to Dan Keldsen, The Gen Z Effect:"

...companies who had been able to just run their businesses as they'd continue to do so for decades, have realized they can no longer afford to NOT take advantage of both modern technology infrastructures (networks, collaboration/knowledge systems, processes) and modern management techniques around incentivization and employee engagement, if they are going to survive.

Think about conflict leadership (the Academy Leadership workshop). McDonald insists we must have the wherewithal to aim for win-win opportunities, rather than the more traditional win-lose model coupled with inflexible business practices and engagements (p. 9). This does not mean profit is bad, rather McDonald differentiates between knowledge assets (KA) and social media where the former has high value and selective sharing vs. the latter which is freely shared (p. 11).

Reminiscent of Aaron Hurst's descriptions in The Purpose Economy, McDonald advances Tier None organizations, or a determination to be part of the growing Profit with Purpose (PoP) business paradigm (p. 13), which is very attractive to an emerging professional class. According to Richard Fry, 2015 is the first year that the Millennial Generation will outnumber Baby Boomers in the United States (p. 21).


The gap between effectiveness and efficiency is growing. In the DACE, knowledge alone is not enough; applied knowledge, the prerogative of Flat World Navigators, is where effective, directed influence lies (p. 27). Flat World Navigators and the relatively new role of the Chief Marketing Technology Officer have similarities and synergies and both go some way to refining and redefining the currently struggling position of Chief Information Officer (p. 26).

TheBoston Consulting Group has predicted that, by 2016, social media will be worth US 4.2 trillion to G20 economies, and to take (p. 32) part:

• clarify the social mission/goals of your company and/or organization;
• align your mission as a Flat World Navigator with that of your company brand and culture;
• be consistent in monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of your ROI with your stakeholders and Endusers; and
• coordinate a plan for communication, which serves the needs of Endusers, including during times of crisis.

We should all consider aligning our social media strategy with our Personal Leadership Philosophy. IBM's Sandy Carter examines relationship effectiveness via convergence, as many professionals are highly engaged yet don't monetize the shrinking chasm between our professional and personal relationships (pp. 51-52).


Two excellent DACE examples are Airbnb disrupting the Parisian hotel market (p. 57) and Uber (p. 62) transforming transportation. Table 2.1 offers a broad list of online tools, tech and sites for repertoire consideration (pp. 65-66), searching for the positions wherein human behavior is the differentiator, not an algorithm.

Mary Adams depicts a very different approach to business, co-creation of value with stakeholders with a very different path to profitability (p. 83). Regarding KPIs - Key Performance Indicators - the frontier is to measure externally. If you think about it, stakeholder feedback is the ultimate leading indicator (p. 85).

McDonald's organizational design recommendations on pp. 87-88, increasing connection and communication, reminds us of Stanley McChrystal's headquarters in Team of Teams.

Jeanine Esposito differentiates between networking and collaborating (p. 89), declaring collaboration as one of the top, if not THE top skill required for the 21st century, with key characteristics (p. 93) of collaborative entrepreneurial and individuals including:

• A determination to do better. Acquiescence to the status quo has no place here.
• A willingness to listen to, and learn from, others who have diverse areas of expertise and experience.
• An openness to communicating both with others in the same department and organization, but also to forming connections outside company walls.
• Cross-department/function transparency, which encourages an open sharing of strategically useful information that can be discussed at all levels of the organization.
• An understanding that flexibility is imperative - this is particularly true in instances when Endusers are involved in driving/directing product or process development, transformation and/or innovation.

Connection | Communication Leadership | Feedback

Paul Keen states his typical customer knows as much about a product as [his] employees do and know the comparative pricing better than [their] employees do (p. 104), and the key differentiator is level of engagement with Endusers. This is the same lesson from our Energize2Lead profiles, approach people the way they want to be approached.

The need for a leadership connection is urgent. Put plainly, CIOs are being told in no uncertain terms by their CEOs that they have no choice but to adapt to the 'digital now, digital first' era -- frankly, they need to evolve and replace command and control 'with vision and inspiration' or they'll soon be extinct (p. 134).

McDonald cites Deloitte's 'Crossing the "CASM" report' (p. 161), analyzing 84 large tech companies. Of those they found it was the organizations serving SMBs (small-to medium- sized businesses, aka SMEs), that 'consistently out-performed their counterparts in revenue growth and operating income margin' and 'experienced less volatility in revenue growth and operating margins.'

Communicating leadership is key. According to Karima Mariama-Arthur honesty and authenticity are the foundation for developing solid professional relationships (p. 163). McDonald suggests determining a list of three key goals you want to accomplish, three key competencies you are eager to promote, three positive messages you want to bring attention to and three points of recommendation you are willing to share (p. 169).

Megan Kachur, of Disney Theme Park Merchandise, describes the need for feedback (p. 18): "When you go through a traditional MBA programme, there is nothing in the curriculum regarding creative thinking. (think After Action Review) What have we learned from it? What are we going to do differently next time? These are the absolutely critical components of strong, creative -- and collaborative leadership: a willingness to take the risk, to learn from the results, and to try again." (p. 23)

Women In The DACE

McDonald's findings mirror Harvard Business Review's September 2013 Issue, The biases that still hold female leaders back, especially the belief shared by far too many women, that they must be 'perfect'  often being their own worst enemy (p. 210).

However, these women are part of what is now considered one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs, potential entrepreneurs and wage earners - they are the Third Billion validated in the Fourth World Conference on Women: Women have increasingly become self-employed and owners and managers of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (p. 216).

The DACE appears most welcoming to women. For example, Natalie Goldman when looking at the leadership competencies required to be successful, when tested across the general population of both men and women, women tend to have more of the core competencies necessary to be excellent leaders (p. 225).


Despite all this disruption, our leadership philosophy will keep us afloat, summarized by Francesco A Calabrese:

Clarity is greatly aided by the equivalent of a 'Commander's Intent Document' from the Enterprise CEO (p. 231).

Note: Kim McDonald generously provided a copy of her book for review.

JE | July 2016