What is the state of the new economy, you ask? Well, let's go back one step: What is the new economy?
That may be a better place to start, since we keep running into people who think that "the new economy" is synonymous with "dotcom" and that "the new economy is dead" because "the dotcom thing is over."
In fact, the bursting of the dotcom bubble has allowed everyone to return to first principles, and the first principle of the new economy is the ongoing importance of the new — new ideas about strategy, new answers to questions about leadership and change, new ways for old companies to compete and win. Business as usual is not an option.
Now to that initial question: What is the state of the new economy? Well, from where we sit at Fast Company, we see a steady parade of rule breakers and risk takers who are thinking differently about business and economics, building new kinds of companies, and extending the reach of digital technology to new frontiers. We have set out to chronicle these innovators — to chronicle the state of the real new economy.
Who has the next big idea? According to the dispatch from Dan Pink, it may be Michael Hammer. The disruptive thinker who gave us business-process reengineering almost a decade ago is back with a new idea: a version of reengineering that may just lead to a new definition of what a company is.
What is the new economics? John Ellis would like to introduce you to the new economist: Robert J. Shiller. Best known for his timely and insightful book Irrational Exuberance, which called the dotcom bubble by the right name, Shiller is a pioneer of behavioral economics, which recognizes the singular importance of human psychology in supposedly "rational" markets.
Where is the next frontier of innovation? Try looking 20,000 leagues under the sea. Fara Warner reports from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, which uses the digital technology of the new economy to unlock the secrets of the ocean.
And what does it mean to be a fast company now? The current version, suggests Keith Hammonds, is a hybrid — a blend of a strong corporation and a nimble startup. Only in this case, the startup comes from within the corporation — courtesy of a birthing process delivered by iFormation.
The game of business in the new economy keeps changing — and the team with the best questions (and answers) wins.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.