The post-hierarchical organization

The way we manage our organizations is largely ineffective for the complex challenges we face, whether driven by the environment, demographics, economics, or politics.

Hierarchies assume that management knows best and that the higher up the hierarchy, the more competent and knowledgeable that person is. But hierarchies are merely centralized networks. They work well when information flows mostly in one direction: down. Hierarchies are good for command and control. They are handy to get things done in small groups. But hierarchies are rather useless to create, innovate, or change. Hierarchies are ineffective when things get complex. (more…)

Why mastering personal knowledge is critical to success

This is the synopsis of a webinar for TP3 Australia I presented last evening (my time).

Three major external forces and trends are influencing the future of work:

  1. Technology is changing Expectations … of what is possible
  2. Globalization is changing Value Creation … from tangible to intangible, as culture gets digitized
  3. Social Media are changing Relationships … to a ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate world

Automation is ending the industrial era. Examples include lawyers replaced by software, bank staff replaced by websites, travel agents replaced by apps, and soon drivers will be replaced by robots. Workplaces are finding themselves at a break-point between the industrial era and the network era, with industrial era systems and structures unable to adapt to a world of mostly non-standardized, non-repeatable work processes. (more…)

Ideas, Experts and Data

Here are some observations and insights that were shared on social media this past fortnight. I call these Friday’s Finds.

We don’t see something until we have the right metaphor to let us perceive it.” – Thomas Kuhn – via @tobiasmeyer

Humans require the difficult and messy social routing protocol of trust.” – Valdis Krebs @orgnet – via @voinonen

What if sucessful projects having a plan is just survivior bias?” – @drunkcod (more…)

Building the network era organization

Part of the shift that organizations will have to make in the network era will be not only to add new dimensions, but to retrieve some old ones. Institutional life often required us to leave our family concerns at the door, and focus on the work to be done. In the military this could be for decades and in the church for life. Later we had to stay sharply focused on the hyper-competition of the market era. There was a battle to be done, and most marketing speak is still littered with military terms, taken from one of the largest institutions we ever created.

But we have shifted from a world dominated by Tribes, to one of Institutions, and currently a society of Markets. The next shift is to a world of Networks, as succinctly described in David Ronfeldt’s TIMN theory. According to TIMN, each new form has built upon and changed the previous mode. We are currently a predominantly triform society (T+I+M). What happens as we become a quadriform society (T+I+M+N) and what aspects of the other three will be helpful to provide balance? (more…)

The future is self-management

Two late 19th century theorists still firmly inform management thinking.

Henri Fayol’s functions of management pretty well sum up how many managers see their responsibilities today.

  1. To forecast and plan
  2. To organize
  3. To command or direct
  4. To coordinate

F.W. Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management viewed management as the necessary controlling layer in order to systematize work and make it efficient. If labourers could not adapt to managers’ directions, then they should be let go. (more…)

Learning quicker by failing safely

I attended the Community Forests International planning session yesterday. This organization, located in our small town of Sackville, is working on two continents and recently received €1.2 million from the European Union for its work on the island of Pemba in Tanzania. The day included participation from many community groups, such as Renaissance Sackville, which I represented. It finished with a wine & cheese at Cranewood (a must-see for any visitor to town) which drew even more people from the community. I’d like to highlight what Jeff Schnurr, the founder had to say, as it reflects the advice I give to many organizations (my paraphrasing here). (more…)

The Zeitgeist

The Zeitgeist (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time.


Conversations are markets?

Here are some observations and insights that were shared on social media this past fortnight. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@ayeletb: “I want to live in a world of possibilities and experiments; not a cookie cutter world, unless I am baking.“

“If you want to do something new, you have to stop doing something old. – Peter Drucker” – HT @reuvengorsht

@alanwbrown: “The cluetrain changed my life … seriously! So very interesting reading RT @johngoode: Is IoT waiting for Cluetrain?

Cluetrain states: The Market is the Conversation. Could that be reversed? The Conversation is the Market? If so, Cluetrain is what IoT is waiting for:

1. Individuals, Cities, Infrastructure and local authorities produce (and later, sell) IoT data.

2. Google, Amazon, Intel or similar builds a Meaning Engine: an IoT ingest warehouse. It publishes API’s for consuming data (for which it pays) and produces insight (which it sells).

I have no doubt the lawyers will do quite well from privacy, safeguarding and ownership matters.


Rising from the ashes of management

If you want to destroy the entrepreneurial nature of work, then make management part of the hierarchy. Removing management from the hierarchy is probably the simplest thing that could be done to improve innovation and increase the motivation of those who really create business value.

Management at Asana is seen as service role, rather than the next step in the pyramid on the org chart. The usual model, where exceptional work leads inevitably to the management track is a mistake, Rosenstein argues. “The effect of that is that individual work is looked down on,” he says. “That is so caustic.”  – What managers do at a company that’s trying to replace them with software


Everything Connects

A valuable practice advocated by the authors of Everything Connects is the art and craft of blueprinting, centred on the practice of decision mapping.

As you map decision after decision – and perhaps finding yourself making mistake after mistake – you’ll begin to recognize the elements of your identity, your various strategies, and the assets you’re drawing upon for a given decision.

Being mindful of our actions, like any discipline, takes time to master. This personal discipline can then become the foundation for organizational asset mapping, building something beyond ourselves, to include:

  • people;
  • insights;
  • capital;
  • infrastructure; and
  • ecosystem.