We have been thinking a lot recently about the "permanent set" of changes that will remain when the world's major economies come out of recession. If you trust the statistics, Germany, France and Japan already have. One thing that is with us for the duration is the influence of social networking sites on business.
A case in point: the firestorm that has followed Whole Foods Market founder and CEO John Mackey's recent Wall Street Journal piece on heathcare reform. Whatever you think of the merits of President Obama's proposals, or the UK's National Health Service (please, no more folks!), you can't argue with the fact that over 16,000 people (and growing) have signed up to and are actively rubbishing the Whole Foods business on Facebook as a result. Using social networking sites to respond to the actions of businesses and their leaders is a phenomenon that is here to stay.
Goodness knows what it would have done to the career of the fledgling Sir Richard Branson when he was building his Virgin Group. Some of his public outpourings and political affiliations early on might have proved fatal to Virgin if Facebook, Twitter, and the like had been around at that time. I do think it is good to get insights into the personality of the people who are running our iconic businesses. Sadly, I suspect that Mr. Mackey and his ilk will be a bit more careful with their personal opinions in future.