Zigger nation

Business 2.0 dedicates it's May 2007 issue to purveyors of unconventional business wisdom. But what happens when every entrepreneur is seeking to be a contrarian?

Business 2.0 dedicates it's May 2007 issue to purveyors of unconventional business wisdom. Rip up the rules of management, we are told. It's the principle of permanent revolution applied to the free market. Be unconventional. Think differently. Be a contrarian. And then, you'll acquire business immortality like Mark Cuban or Jeff Bezos. Thus, the Time-Warner owned magazine invites us to:

Meet the contrarians, 11 business leaders who achieved success by zigging while the rest of the world zagged.

In addition to Bezos and Cuban, paragons of Business 2.0's contrarian entrepreneurs include schlumpy Craig, Arianna Huffington and Martha Stewart whose unconventional behavior landed her in West Virginia's Alderson Federal Prison Camp for five months. We are told that contrarians like Craig, Arianna and Martha are ziggers -- while the rest of us, in contrast, are losers, zagging ourselves into obscurity:

The piece, of course, is supposed to transform us into a nation of ziggers. But what Business 2.0, Fast Company, Wired and the rest of the zigger-loving business media is doing, of course, is creating an orthodoxy around the ideal of unconventionality. So what happens when everybody thinks differently? What is the result of a business culture in which even the most unoriginal entrepreneur believes that they should be a contrarian? You get the overpowering conformity of Web 2.0 -- a bubble of contrarianism, in which entrepreneurs attempt to counterculturally trump their rivals. It's a pastiche of Trotsky's permanent revolution -- Stumbled Upon, Twittered, Dabbled, Digged ad nauseum.

So how does one really think differently in a contrarian business culture like Web 2.0? The only refuge is escaping into orthodoxy. I suspect that today's real ziggers are those intrinsically dull souls who simply can't think differently. The next billion dollar companies will be founded by young men (no women execs allowed) who believe in org charts, profits, sex with their secretaries and martini lunches. So next time you see a blue suited IBM clone, don't sneer. Instead, bow down to their orthodoxy. And beg them for a job.