It takes different leadership to increase collaboration and support social learning in the workplace. Leadership is the key, not technology. Most of our leadership practices come from a command and control military legacy that have been adopted by the business world for the past century. But hierarchies don’t help us manage in networks, whether they be social, value or organizational networks. Steve Denning explains:
Saying that hierarchies are needed is like arguing for smoking cigarettes. Hierarchies are a harmful habit that we need to break. We may be addicted to them, so that breaking the habit is hard, but the way forward is clear.
The reality is that there is another way. One can mesh the efforts of autonomous teams of knowledge workers who have the agility to innovate and meet the shifting needs of clients while also achieving disciplined execution. It requires a set of measures that might be called “dynamic linking”. The method began in automotive design in Japan and has been developed most fully in software development with approaches known as “Agile” or “Scrum”.
Jon Husband has succinctly described an organizational framework for networks. Some variation of wirearchy informs successful organizations (like Semco SA; Google; W.L. Gore, Zappos; etc):
In an increasingly interconnected world, a new organizing principle is emerging …
“Wirearchy is a dynamic two-way [multi-way] flow of power and authority based on:
- a focus on results
enabled by interconnected people and technology“ (Jon Husband, 1999)