Meaning: Indy Johar on the micromassive society

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

indy JoharThe firm, the corporate entity, is a relatively recent invention. It was born in the 18th century, and a vehicle for efficient exploration of other of the world.

In 2010 he went to Detroit, and visited where the Model T Ford was built. Henry Ford was famous for paying more than average – a lot more. Why was he paying more than anyone else? Because he lost so many staff each week. Why? Because they were asked to doing the same thing again and again. It was the end of craft. Seven years later, the car had become stylised. It was being sold as a lifestyle image. As purpose was removed from work, it was transferred to consumption.

In 2004, he was working for a practice of 17 people. At 17 people, they were designing handrails for hospices with nodules, as the tactile memory is the last to go. At 64? The detail was lost. They were creators of images, not details. That says something about how we manage size.

Until 1998, he was at architectural school. He realised that the decisions of how a wall was made were being pulled from the craftsman building it to the architect designing it. The meaning was being stripped from the crasftman’s work.

There are diseconomies of scale – which are under-discussed. The losses of management are significant. We’re moving into a civic economy. Since the 1960s, very few large organisations have been born. It’s a trend. We’re starting to have to look at what the informal economy means. The accelerated reputation economy is becoming more important than contracts. We can start holding ash other to account in small ways. We could all underwrite Stowe small amount for a loan. We can all start to aggregate in ways that haven’t been done before – and that starts to redistribute power.

Rutland Telecom is a great example of people coming together to create micro-infrastructure.

The Hub is like a co-working space – but it’s global. Not corporate clonal, but locally-owned global. All The Hubs together owned the idea and assets. It signals that we can build a civic global. There are 32 hubs around the world. Imagine what you could do with that with a university.

Micromassive – the idea of how resources is pulled together is huge. The web is allowing us to make co-operative structures fractional and sharable in a way they never could before.

Social – can be outcome, method, governance, ownership and inputs. But their all linked. They’re all converging. In 10 years, we’ll just be talking about social business as the way to do business. The funder is just one stakeholder in the process – the model of clients is different, because everyone is one.

Architects should be social liable for the buildings they design. It would ensure that I did everything possible to make that building a positive social outcome. If the local authority could sue me as an architect., I would have to work differently. But then you could librate planning. Why would you need it?

In London Zoo, the only way out is through a tacky gift shop? It’s a charity, I’m a member. Why? They’re legally obliged to maximise value for their purpose. Single purpose vehicles are problem. Finance is changing – capital is starting to have to become intelligent. One VC says they’re getting 40% returns – because ether think this is the future.

There’s a shift from management to co-ventureship – it’s replaced by servant leadership. It’s a fragile thing, easily destroyed by someone trying to take the reputation for themselves.

Streetcar is not a sharing economy product, it;s a rent economy one. There is a risk we will be moved into a rental economy, where the assets are owned by fewer and fewer people. You end up with no assets. Sharing assets is different, because we actually build resilience. We have to be very careful about what we mean by platform. Platforms should be though of more like states than corporates. If we let assets be stripped away, be become very exposed to shocks.


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.