Part One on Power

September 9, 2020
Written Insights

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word power? Do you view power in a positive or negative light? Do you think about a person or a thing when it comes to power?

There are many different ways to view and think about power. But what we can all agree on is, there are power structures that exist and influence the access control and broader security industry.

My view of power is primarily a positive one. I believe its impact, and the influence it shows, both by and to people and things, is predominantly a positive one. I like to think, and I believe that most people and companies use their power to do good.

I also am aware that for some, the word power has a negative connotation due to examples we have seen of power being abused and used to harm (e.g., bullying online and the fear it creates amongst people to speak up).

My goal here is not to make this discussion about that type of power, but to shine a light on our industry's good power and discuss a phase change happening right now where some who are silent are becoming empowered and are speaking up.

And that is where I would like to start. Our industry, the companies, the people, the customer, and you all can persuade, influence, and make change happen. We need to be louder and unapologetic.

By writing this and the next newsletter, I hope to start identifying the good, put some light on the bad, and, more importantly, excite the influential group to be silent no more.

Let's start by defining what power is and why it matters? (Reminder: next week we will apply it to access control, discuss who has power, why, and how to use it).

The definition of power is the possession of control, authority, or influence over others.

If you think about it, power is, in some form, a relationship. Those powersimpact a connection between the person with power and someone else or a situation that does not.

For it to exist, it must be allowed to exist. In some cases, power structures are created, formally or informally, to keep organization or dominance intact. Again, it may sound not good, but these power hierarchies can (the keyword "can") be collaborative, productive, and oddly calming. It is also healthy for powerstructures to change, evolve, and in some cases, be eliminated when they do not make sense anymore.

We also need to name them (more on that later). I liked the way social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven identified six bases of power:

  1. Legitimate – The formal right to make demands and expect others to be compliant and obedient.
  2. Reward – One person's ability to compensate another for compliance.
  3. Expert – A person's high levels of skill and knowledge.
  4. Referent – A person's perceived attractiveness, worthiness, and right to others' respect.
  5. Coercive – A person can punish others for noncompliance.
  6. Informational – Ability to control the information that others need to accomplish something.

So why does this matter, and why should we name them?

I think we are at the beginnings of an evolution, but in some cases, we are being held back by some holding on to old power structures, choosing to ignore and hoping the change will go away, or maybe a feeling for some that they do not have the power when they in fact do. I believe it matters because some of the power structures have changed in our industry, and we need more of it.

But suppose we name the old powers and identify the new powers. Perhaps we do that by talking about them more out loud. By normalizing the new and identifying the old, we have a real good chance of accelerating the evolution. In that case, we will move aside the legacy power structures that do not add value anymore, keep intact the legacy ones that add value and accelerate the new positive power structures.

It is time to speak loudly.

For part two, what are some examples, good and bad, of who and what has power in our industry? For example:

  • Big Tech: Apple, Google, and Amazon.
  • Dealers
  • Distribution
  • Incumbents
  • End-users
  • Diversity
  • Recurring business models
  • Storytellers
  • Software companies
  • Big tech
  • Old industry blogs
  • VC backed startups
  • Industry associations

More on that next week.

Lee Odess

I've worked as an Entrepreneur and an Integrator (founded E+L+C), for a multinational billion dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry (Allegion), as an Executive of a start-up who pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry (UniKey), and as an Executive with the first cloud based physical access control manufacturer (Brivo). I put all those years together to form a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the CRETech, proptech and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control and IoT industry.

Labeled as an uber-networker by the Washington Post, Lee Odess has over 18 years starting, building and leading businesses with an exceptional track record for sales growth and marketing effectiveness.

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