If I were the one in charge of deciding the ‘person of the year’ for the front cover of Time Magazine, or other front covers for that matter, I would pick ‘The Peer’. As in peer-to-peer.
Maybe this is more than ‘the year’. It’s the decade of the Peers. And I am not talking about the “British nobility’ in the House of Lords.
The Edelman Trust Barometer has been highlighting the importance of ‘people like me’ (my peers) for many years. I trust ‘people like me’ twice as much as I trust the CEO, the barometer says. Peer-to-peer is the strongest source of trust and collaboration within the organization. There is a whole ‘peer economy’ in which buyers and sellers interact directly. There is peer-to-peer lending. There is also peer-to-peer banking on direct transfers of funds between people. There is an equivalent term used in IT. There are ‘patients like me’ websites, and for mums, and for many other tribes. There is ‘peer-to-peer coaching’.
Peers! The transversal, horizontal connectivity between people. The tribes. The alternative to hierarchical models. The Facebookization of life.
Only a few years go, we would not be talking peers other than in the scientific arena (peer reviews of journals) or in the context of vaguely defined ’peer pressure’. The peers are not new, but they have only recently reached adulthood. And they have even been given business models.
Trust has gone horizontal, it’s people like me, not people like those at the top. And for better or worse, this ‘like me’ is also working in the mobilization of people in the political arena: one of us, versus one like them. In the US, this is pure polarity at the moment.
Peer-to-peer in organizations is today more and more at the core of ‘where real stuff happens’ . In Viral Change™ , we orchestrate peer-to-peer engagement and activism as the engine of change.
Yes, the world is flat. Well, not that flat, mainly horizontal.
It is the year of the peer, the year of the horizontal, and the year of HR/OD/L&D/tribes of human capital to once and for all pay attention to social, non-hierarchical influence inside the organization. Horizontal management and horizontal leadership.
The world looks sideways, not just up and down.