What did the industrial era look like, and how did it differ from the network era? The industrial era epitomized rational, centralized control, replacing local, customized ways of doing things. The network era opens communications so wide that control is no longer possible. For instance, in the network era, leadership is about giving up control.
In Organize for Complexity by the BetaCodex network, the authors show the result of centralization on markets as a bit of an anomaly over time. Both decentralized and networked markets are dynamic, while centralized markets are not. In some ways, we are returning markets back to their pre-industrial state.
One clear example of this shift is shown by one of my favourite markets – beer. The US Brewer’s Association created this graph of the number of breweries over time. It shows the “Taylor Bathtub” effect very clearly (other than the Prohibition dip). This is just one more indicator that the industrial era is over. I’ll drink to that!