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May 14, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Erwin prefers the terms advisor, researcher, facilitator and educator

Michael Erwin(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a two-part series on local entrepreneur Michael Erwin.)

Sweetwater resident Michael Erwin says that he does not like to be called a consultant. “Advisor is a better term,” he says, although the work involves being a researcher, facilitator and educator, too.

In the case of his latest endeavor, he says that he simply describes himself as “the Founder and developer of the Meta Method.”

We previously reported that Erwin spent the past decade focused on how ideas influence and change culture. He says the first five years were devoted to understanding people and culture, while the next five were focused on “relating that understanding to the business world.”

Erwin describes it as understanding how shifts and trends in business and culture affect each other and how technology further impacts both.

“Is technology affecting culture or is culture affecting technology or is it a little bit of both,” he asks. “Ideas do have consequences.”

The decade-long work has evolved into the Meta Method which is really modern business design or something Erwin calls “open business design.” He says the term is partly inspired by open source software.

“The way most companies are structured was fine for the 50s, but we are now in a different culture and a different economy,” he explains. “The Internet allows us to instantly import cultures and value systems. This makes every business a global business.”

Erwin suggests that most business models are “archaic.” He says that people believe it is just a few sectors such as newspapers and book publishers when, in fact, it’s many, many more.

A symptom of archaic business models is the stereotypical focus on skills rather than the more important asset – talent. For Erwin, it’s not just the Gen Ys where salary and benefits are not as important as other factors, but many other groups.

“It is hard for bureaucratic organizations to get it,” he says. “Good talent always has other opportunities.”

In his latest endeavor, Erwin, the advisor and facilitator, is “going on a journey with clients to transform what we need to transform.” The work involves something he calls an “innovation workshop” to redesign those things that need to be changed and development of an action plan.

“I can’t do the implementation,” he says.

For Erwin, the ideal candidate firm is one with 50 or more employees.  “This usually does not fit smaller businesses,” he explains.

Erwin is early into the process, but he’s applying a lifetime of experience and research as he advises companies on the best strategies to be successful in the future.


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