Its the intangibles stupid!

I just woke to the news that Amazon had acquired Zappos.

I met Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO and cultural leader and uber twitterer @Zappos at the Business Innovation Factory in Providence, Rhode Island last year. Two things about him that were just utterly remarkable were his humility and his passion about the culture of his company. So, I was puzzled about why they decided to team with Amazon althouh seeing I live in Australia and cannot order Zappos here, it makes a lot of sense to team up with Amazon for growth of sclae.

But the even more interesting part is why did Amazon want Zappos and pay so much for it, when Amazon already has the smarts of online shopping and a dominant brand?

Because of the INTANGIBLES- just what I blogged about two days ago. The stuff that do not factor into a standard ROI calculation.

Its unique leadership- which will be retained intact
Its undisputed unique culture (Zappos also runs an internal event similar to our AMPLIFY, and about 10 days ago I reached out to Zappos to see if we could do something together around this)
Its brand. Zappos does not even sell Downunder, but its brand is known as cool and my kids are already browsing their online catalogue to stock up on shoes when we are in the US later this year.

Congratulations Tony and Zappos…this is an acquisition where you were in the driving seat to negotiate and it makes good sense. And here’s hoping we can still do a hook-up between your Zappos People event and our AMPLIFY in Sydney- across continents.


AMPLIFY 09 Convergence and emergence: NODULAR LEADERSHIP

Stream videos at Ustream

Watching live stream from LeWeb08 in Paris.

Really enjoyed the David Weinberger talk about the decline of old style top-of-the-pyramid lone hero figure of organisational leadership (think conductor of orchestra, think Jack Welch) that co-incides with the end of the information age, and the emergence of abundant leadership through the nodes of multiple connected networks, giving rise to reputational democracy in the sphere of government, and in the corporation? I have coined a new phrase….I call this NODULAR LEADERSHIP. If anyone else uses this henceforth…..you read it here first. Loll! attributions please! ;-)))

But how will the reward and hierarchical systems cope with highly networked, highly influential thought leaders distributed at the edges of the organisation- a subject my work team and I ponder frequently?

I have a personal curiosity in this subject and for some time now, have been seeking out thinkers to address this topic of convergence between technology and leadership, and the emergence of new leadership models and insights, at AMPLIFY 09. I have been searching for examples from guild organisers in World of Warcraft, like http://sophtopia.blogspot.com/2008/07/warcraft-reputation-and-democracy.html to seriously heavy-duty uber-connected dudes like Joi Ito.

In many ways, networked collaboration has been my natural style of operating since I was in kindergarten, but I always attributed it to being more ambitious than my resources/ time/ budget could ever cope with- and to date, I have built a career on the back of creating successes that way.

Its the very structure of how AMPLIFY is organised, through a network of distributed leaders throughout our business and extended networks- and the consequence is a much richer event, delivered at a fraction of the cost of a traditional execution through a professional event manager.

Wonder though which nodes will emerge to voluntarily clean the toilets in a self-organising environment? maybe those will become the really expensive highly paid tasks in the future or maybe people should simply clean for themselves as they go….

On that note….have a kitchen full of groceries to pack away, where my distributed leadership of relying on teenagers missed the deadline!