Don Draper is not who he says he is. The same could be said for his colleagues and their spouses. There's a lot more to the story plot than meets the eye. What people like most about the characters in Mad Men is that they may be cads (male and female), but they're not a bunch of pussies. The audience loves the fact that these non-pussies are so ruthlessly acting in their own self interest, it seems refreshing. [See the rest of this thread at Fast Company Expert blog.]
That is counter to the spirit and increasingly the reality of our times. The name of the game now is collaboration. Companies are finally replacing the metaphor of business as a family, which it never was, with that of business as teams - as in team work for performance.
Rather than seeing the world as flat, I'd say we've come full circle - back to tribes, and to trust. We all know that the characters of Mad Men cannot continue their deception, mostly because they each know, deep down, that when they're found, even when it doesn't matter to others, it matters to them.
In a way, many describe our behavior on Twitter and in social networks as that of Mad Men - giving and sharing so much intellectual capital and knowledge, for free. We do that because we understand that our goals are the same as those of our colleagues, even when we compete for work. Putting the needs of others ahead of our own in the short term is a good thing, and those who engage in this behavior become Trust Agents.
Trust Agents are not *that* different from Mad Men:
- They make their own game - and stand out by doing so
- They're one of us - for which we share a sense of belonging
- They leverage people, technology, knowledge, and time - in a linked system
- They're at the center of wide, powerful networks - in other words, they have access
- They're human artists - who have developed an understanding of when to work on relationships to improve them, and when to walk away
- They build relationships in such a way that they develop mass - for collaboration
This is today's creative class, where co-opetition is much more likely to benefit us.
It's a hard lesson for many businesses to take. A centralized structure will continue to weaken when confronted by the power of networks. Think about how much you could accomplish by harnessing the weak ties in your own employee base, then those of your partners, customers, and finally even those of your competitors.
Linked systems are more resilient, diverse, and enduring. Only Mad Men wouldn't go for that.