Mqondisi Gumede: Business must adopt more of a ground-up approach to survive in future

Mqondisi Gumede warns, if big business doesn't decentralise it won't survive the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Business has to loosen its tight grip on power and allow more people to make decisions if it wants to thrive during the Fourth Industrial Revolution because ‘the revolution will not be centralised’.”

These are the words of Mqondisi Gumede, knowledge merchant at the Iconoclast Knowledge Bureau who boldly told finance professionals during the Finance Indaba conference held at the Sandton Convention Centre on 4 October 2018. 

Mqondisi said in future things will be more decentralised which means business must follow suit. He made an example of how things are already looking different by considering the power of social media and how it has taken the authority away from established newspapers to make commentary on current events. 

He said: 

“Anyone can make a comment about anything on various social media platforms. This has had a negative effect on newspapers. Editors are now scrambling because they have to filter through public comments whereas before they used to go to one person who was seen as the voice of authority to make a comment.”

Mqondisi took conference attendees through a history lesson of the emergence of sport and referred to what he termed the ‘spontaneous order’ as an example of a model that business has to follow. Using football as an analogy, Mqondisi spoke about how it started as a very informal game in which two groups of people were just kicking a ball. As time moved on people wanted to play against each other and then ultimately established a uniform set of rules. 

All this happened in a ground-up fashion, free from control from anyone in power and not for financial reasons but because people simply wanted to enjoy a game of football. People then came together and began to form football associations. 

“These associations were voluntarily created by people who want to play each other and it was not done top down, but ground up,” explained Mqondisi. 

He says businesses need to open up new spaces for this kind of ground up innovation. 

“So many of us in corporate are burdened by always having to know what the right decision is,” he said. 

 

But the only way for executives to relieve themselves of always having to make decisions for the future is to give people space to allow them to associate with your business and make up their own rules. 

Sport is an amazing example of how a business can allow people to make decisions from the ground up and let them do their own things. Business can then come after and build a financial model. This is how businesses can start going faster, getting stronger and higher. 

Mqondisi concluded: 

“There’s only strength in a decentralised democratic world and going from me to we, exclusion to inclusion will help us eradicate this unequal world.”