Power informs the fundamental conditions for prosperity.
When you understand how Power works, you understand the world. It shapes society: dictating who participates, to what degree they can affect change, and how they can participate in the economy. Many people think and write that social media shifts power while not drawing the distinction of what creates noise vs actual new outcomes. To understand power, you have to ask the real question of “new power”: under what conditions do “new people” get access to power previously denied.
Power has traditionally been vertical, while potential horizontal. At the intersection lies the opportunity — a construct I’ve named onlyness. While ideas have no gender, race, disability, sexuality, age or religion, they often get filtered out based on who brings them to the table based on gender, race, etc. Established, entrenched power precludes the creation and development of new ideas based solely on the “newness” of who has them.
This matters a lot. Solutions to some of our more persistent and complex problems are not going to be algorithmic, but people-powered. Solutions will come from new ideas, but only if we let them.
I’ve been working on a set of ideas around this for some time, as you all know, but in a more “formal” capacity when I accepted a fellowship with the Martin Prosperity Institute last fall on “new power”.
Download this paper (here: Merchant_New-Power_V2) if you’re interested in knowing the 3 big shifts of how power is changing in modern times — by authority, alignment, and accountability — that will enable those on the sidelines to have a seat at the table. Despite it being a PDF format, this is very much a work-in-progress. Always interested in your ideas…
Then, anyone, quite possibly everyone… will be able to contribute, create and build prosperity. And that is how we have new power.