21st Century Business Models: Dominate or Evoke?

In a reflective piece on Sam Zell’s takeover of Tribune Co., Umair Haque argues that strength in the 21st century isn’t about dominance. It’s about the capacity to evoke. It’s about the willingness to serve a bigger purpose than yourself, the capacity to subordinate yourself to a larger goal than your own gain, the ability to spark the enduring bonds of shared values, intrinsic motivation, and mutually committed perseverance.

Strength as subordination says: I only value for what you can produce for me, buy from me, or sell to me. I am in control, see my power. But strength as the power to evoke says: I value you for who you are, and what you can become. You are in control — see your power?

It is this commitment to extrinsic value that will differentiate companies in the 21st century. As Michael Porter puts it, companies must be committed to creating shared value by reconsidering the intersection between society and corporate performance in order for capitalism to succeed. The question isn’t if the need exists, but rather, who will step up to challenge?

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