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Dachis Corporation: the cipher of Social Business Design

Promising news in the world of emerging capability building this week as Dachis Group announced their acquisition of Xplane on Monday, 26 April.

Though the exercise may seem (or be) a bit like reading tea leaves, I think there are some interesting things to think about in trying to understand what Dachis actually is and whether and what kind of change it represents for enterprise capability building and innovation.

The Xplane acquisition in particular, I’d argue, makes it seem that Dachis may not simply building a “new model digital agency” group of the future. THANK GOD!

Xplane (who’s founder Dave Gray is a friend and colleague of mine) was chartered as the world’s first visual thinking company. More than simply a niche design company, Xplane has moved from pioneering visual journalism in places like Business 2.0 and visual explanations for everyone from Microsoft to the US Navy to a specialized strategic consulting practice that uses visual thinking to help organizations and enterprise wrestle with complexity.

Visual language has two core virtues, its transparency (making it easy and fast to understand) and its high informational density. It offers, therefore, a language that allows us to communicate and work with complexity with both efficiency and power. If you buy the argument that we live in a world that is increasingly complex, dynamic and volatile, then you kind of have to want to see the spread of visual language as a form of strategic literacy. I have been arguing for sometime that this language ought to be taught as a foundational competency in business.

So what does a Prada-sunglasses wearing sexier-than-thou social media tabernacle like Dachis Group (I say with my tongue firmly implanted in cheek) want with such a serious outfit? I’m not sure about the answer, but I am now a hell of a lot more interested to find out than I was before Monday’s announcement.

I don’t know what the phrase “social business design” is supposed to mean exactly, but I am starting to wonder (and hope?) that maybe someone is FINALLY starting to construct a post-advertising business model that answers the question, how do I communicate with customers and sell products and services with out being a loud-mouthed douchebag?

Jeff Dachis clearly has the credentials of someone with both innovative vision and the mentality of a builder. I hope that the social element at the heart of the Dachis Group proposition is more than a clever ruse. That is surely more than enough to seduce the increasingly desperate folks who are looking to innovate fundamentally the compromised industries and businesses around the world that Umair Haque calls the “zombieconomy“, but the rest of us need better than that.

Now that Dachis has acquire Xplane, they have as an asset a company which has truly created something powerful and new in the corporate toolkit, a language of openness rather than of concealment and secrecy. Mmmmmm. Interesting. Very interesting.

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