Paradigm Shifts in the Concept of Ownership: Changing Consumption Models and the Rise of DisOwnership…

Concept of Ownership– there is a whole lot of shifting go on, and many businesses are being re-defined… What used to work does not anymore because the world is changing and paradigm shifts are happening whether you recognize it or not… For example; the traditional concepts of ownership is fading, and it’s being replaced with people’s desire to connect with products, services in a more meaningful way, such as; protect the environment, regain sense of community, create more applied value in their lives…

According to Torben Rick; there is shift away from ‘ownership’ to ‘access to assets’… The new world of ‘digital’ is very disruptive; it’s creating new business models, changing value streams, provoking faster and more change in the way business is done, than ever before. It’s changing the way business interact with customers, and each other… And for those businesses that think hunkering down and letting it all blow over will spare them just like other trends, well; Forget it…

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This is not a trend, it’s a permanent shift– no industry seems to be immune, for example; people are stream music instead of buying CDs, and renting movies instead of buying DVDs… And, don’t forget the whole sharing economy, which has started to impact core business models: Technology has made it possible for people to conduct new kinds of transactions that were never practicable before… People are moving from a world that was organized around ‘ownership’ to one that’s organized around ‘access to assets’…

According to Claro Partners; constant technological and societal shifts are shaping people’s evolving attitudes towards ownership and opening up opportunities for new models of value exchange. These shifts include the expanding reach and capability of digital technology; it’s future of fewer resources and less space, time and attention… and it’s emergence of alternatives to the traditional ownership models– like subscription models…

The Ownership Culture Report: Research over the last 25 years has shown that employee ownership can motivate employees and improve company performance, but only under certain conditions… No one would deny that employee ownership is about sharing the financial benefits of company success, and many leaders believe that in the minds of employees it all comes down to cash, either current or deferred… but some data indicates this is not the case.

The power of ownership seems to arise from harnessing both the financial and the non-financial aspects of employee ownership. The data suggests that, at its most effective, ownership gives employees not just a financial reason to perform but a reason to belong... Many company leaders appreciate that a shared definition of ownership is needed if employee ownership is to make a positive behavioral difference. However, the word ‘ownership’ has a myriad of meanings in the minds of employees…

According to the Ownership Culture Survey™ (OCS), in a survey designed to measure the psychology of ownership it asked employees– what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they think of ’employee ownership’: A sampling of the responses include: ‘investment’, ‘incentive’, ‘teamwork’, ‘equality’, ‘benefits’, ‘involvement’… and others ask ‘what is ownership?’

In other words, the primary association with ownership can be any one of a vast array of meanings, for example; participation in decision-making, benefit plan, camaraderie, short-term financial payoff, long-term financial payoff, a gimmick, a chance for egalitarianism… The potential for very disparate opinions about ownership is greatest in large companies with multiple locations and diverse work forces, but even in small companies conflicting interpretations of employee ownership can be substantial…

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In the article Changing Models of Ownership by Rich Radka writes: In societies saturated by hyper-consumption, the joy of acquiring and holding the new object in your hands and knowing with satisfaction that it’s yours, is familiar. Equally recognizable though, is that creeping anxiety when the sheen starts to fade and your mind gets distracted with a new, better, life-improving version and at this intersection ownership becomes a pain, a burden...

The product’s value is outweighed by concerns of maintenance, optimization of use, and finding a good home for your once-loved product, be it through recycling or re-use. This cycle seems to becoming ever-shorter, especially in the Western world where gadgets rule and electronics are designed to fail, and both people and businesses are developing strategies to deal with the highs and lows of ownership…

Despite the infinite diversity of the human race, we’re actually quite similar in the kind of things we want to achieve on a day-to-day basis, and collectively we’re beginning to realize that there’s little reason not to share the resources necessary to achieve goals. With increased connectivity through modern technology, networks at both a global and local level are growing rapidly and new communities are developing and flourishing through digital channels. These channels, in turn, allow for resources to be shared, swapped, borrowed, traded… while providing platforms where the meaning of having exclusive belongings are irrelevant…

According to Rachel Botsman; there are several factors to consider, including; environmental, reduced spending power, resurgence of communities, new technological platforms… which are facilitating rise of collaborative consumption as an alternative to traditional ownership and it’s starting to look like a good trade-off; that is, rather than having ‘stuff’ unused on shelves, or cars unused in driveways… 

Some experts says that– ownership in the digital world is an oxymoron, and the rules of digital ownership are incompatible with the traditional concepts of ownership… This discord lies at the heart of digital governance and is a grey area across most societies that are touched by technology and the Internet, for example; there are various incompatible strategies between traditional ownership and digital ownership, particularly in the context where ownership is a synonym for control.. more obvious there are restrictions, loopholes affecting whether something can be fully owned once having entered the online domain of the Internet…

Question: Does Internet ‘neutrality’ and lack of clear Internet governance (legal jurisdiction) trump ownership? Some experts suggest that the very nature of an open and neutral Internet trumps the concept of traditional ownership for ‘all things’ on the Internet…

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In the article Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff by Josh Allan Dykstra writes: Compared to previous generations, Millennials seem to have some very different habits that have taken both established companies and small businesses by surprise: They don’t seem to enjoy buying things. But, what if this particular behavior is not an ‘age thing’ at all? What if this strange new behavior (or rather, lack of behavior) is not a generational thing, but a basic ‘ownership shift’ that is not just isolated to the Millennials? A writer for USA Today suggests that– all ages are on this trend together and instead of an age group, he blames technology… but technology cannot be the cause because it’s simply an extension of the way people think… In fact, people are starting to think differently about what it means to ‘own’ something…

This is why a similar ambivalence towards ownership is emerging in all sorts of areas, from car-buying to music listening to entertainment consumption… Although technology does facilitates this evolution and new generations champion it, the big push behind it is that people’s thinking is changing… According to Rich Radka; belongings which used to be the standard by which to measure personal success, status and security are increasingly being borrowed, traded, swapped, or simply left on the shelf.

Various factors and arguably the most important being an increasingly connected and digitally networked society are the cause for these revolutionary global shifts in behavior, for example; as quickly as a new laptop becomes yesterday’s technology in a brittle plastic shell, or a power tool idly collects dust in the garage… it seems that many possessions are changing from treasure to junk, from security to liability, from freedom to burden, and from personal to communal…

We are living at a time when a major shift in attitudes is bringing on a new era– one in which people get more value by owning less property. While it’s not a person ‘s traditional dream, it makes sense if you think about what’s defining communities today: Some say it’s an era of sharing Sharing driven by online communities that have taken collaboration to new levels…

According to Lynn Jurich; thanks to the Internet people are sharing, trading… a whole universe of things they once had to be bought… People are beginning to realize that they can reap the benefits of ownership without the expense, hassle of buying  things… And after living through a large economic downturn people are learning that relationships and experiences are more important than– stuff, more stuff…

The new status symbol is not what you own– it’s what you’re smart enough ‘not’ to own. And the companies that recognize this shifting customer behavior and adjust business strategies to embrace these changes, they are the companies that will grow, prospers in this new economy.

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A new attitude toward ownership is occurring everywhere and once you recognize this change; you can leverage it, or you can fight against it (which is the tendency of many companies and leaders)… you can help your organization thrive in this strange new marketplace by going with the flow and embracing the new consumption business models and accept the ‘fading’ trend of traditional ownership… To ‘own something’ in traditional sense is becoming less important; products and services are powerful because of how they connects people to something or someone, or how they can do something worthwhile, or how they say something about the person… and not because they are just another asset…

As leaders and entrepreneurs, you just have to think more about the ‘stuff’ you sell in a slightly new way. Since people aren’t shopping to ‘own’ things in the traditional sense anymore, and as you watch the old definition of ‘ownership’ just fade: Think about how will you can leverage the unique connections of your product or service; it could very well mean difference between developing a sustainable business or just surviving.

According to Rachel Botsman; savvy businesses are embracing this trend and offering the flexibility of ‘access’ to a vast array of products, services… offering a range of sharing and consumption models, which means that consumers can access many goods and services that would be otherwise unaffordable, and it also means that companies can access new emerging economies that would be otherwise unavailable to them…