Obama presidential bid succeeded, in other words, as our research at the Lab has discussed for the past several years, through the power of new DNA: new rules for new kinds of institutions.
So let's discuss the new DNA Obama brought to the table, by outlining seven rules for tomorrow's radical innovators.
1. Have a self-organization design.
But tall and flat are concepts built for an industrial era. They force us to think - spatially and literally - in two dimensions: tall organizations command unresponsively, and flat organizations respond uncontrollably.
Obama's organization blew past these orthodoxies: it was able to combine the virtues of both tall and flat organizations. How? By tapping the game-changing power of self-organization. Obama's organization was less tall or flat than spherical - a tightly controlled core, surrounded by self-organizing cells of volunteers, donors, contributors, and other participants at the fuzzy edges. The result? Obama's organization was able to reverse tremendous asymmetries in finance, marketing, and distribution - while McCain's organization was left trapped by a stifling command-and-control paradigm.
2. Seek elasticity of resilience.
3. Minimize strategy.
4. Maximize purpose.
Bigness of purpose is what separates 20th century and 21st century organizations: yesterday, we built huge corporations to do tiny, incremental things - tomorrow, we must build small organizations that can do tremendously massive things.
And to do that, you must strive to change the world radically for the better - and always believe that yes, you can. You must maximize, stretch, and utterly explode your sense of purpose.
5. Broaden unity.
Obama intuitively understands a larger truth of next-generation economics. Unified markets are what a world driven to collapse by hyperconsumption is desperately going to need. We're going to need not a hundred different kinds of razors - and their spiralling costs of complexity and waste - but a single razor that everybody, from the slums of Rio to the lofts of Tribeca, is overjoyed to use.
6. Thicken power.
7. Remember that there is nothing more asymmetrical than an ideal.
In such a world, forget about a short-lived, often meaningless "competitive advantage". It's a concept built for the 20th century. In the 21st century, there is nothing more asymmetrical - more disruptive, more revolutionary, or more innovative -- than the world-changing power of an ideal.
Where are the ideals in your organization? What ideals are missing - absent, bankrupt, stolen - from your economy, industry, or market? What ideals will you fight and struggle for - and live? Because the ultimate problem with industrial-era business was, as Wall Street has so convincingly demonstrated, this: there weren't any.
That seventh lesson is the starting point for tomorrow's radical innovators - because it's the thread that knits the others together. And it's where you should start if you want to use these seven rules to start building 21st century institutions - whether businesses, non-profits, social enterprises, or political campaigns.
As a young brown American, I couldn't be more deeply or powerfully inspired by the "defining moment" of an Obama presidency. Yet, the seeds of a new challenge have been planted by that victory: for us to harness the lessons of his quiet revolution.