principles of networked management

At Red Hat, the enterprise IT company,  “managers focus on opportunities, not score-keeping”.

‘We also rely on associates’ peers and communities to informally assess how people perform. We pay attention to their reputations and how they are regarded by others. We look at the scope and quality of their influence. The result is that rather than “managing up” to their boss to get a good review, Red Hatters are accountable to the community as a whole.’ – Jim Whitehurst, CEO Red Hat

This is a good example of networked management, as opposed to scientific management (1911), which informed the past century of practice.

Principles of Networked Management: It is only through innovative and contextual methods, the self-selection of the most appropriate tools and work conditions, and willing cooperation that more creative work can be fostered. The duty of being transparent in our work and sharing our knowledge rests with all workers, especially management.

1. “innovative & contextual methods” = in the network era work and jobs cannot be standardized, which means first getting rid of job descriptions and individual performance appraisals and shifting to simpler ways in order to organize for complexity.

2. “self-selection of tools” = moving away from standardized enterprise tools toward an open platform in which workers, many of which are part-time or contracted, can use their own tools in order to be knowledge artisans.

3. “willing cooperation” = lessening the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration and encouraging wider cooperation.

4. “duty of being transparent” = shifting from ‘need to know’ to ‘need to share’ especially for those with leadership responsibilities, who must understand that in the network era, management is a role, not a career. Transparency is probably the biggest challenge for organizations today, and it can start with salary transparency.

5. “sharing our knowledge” = changing the environment so that sharing one’s knowledge does not put that person in a weaker organizational position. An effective knowledge worker is an engaged individual with the freedom to act. Rewarding the organization (network) is better than rewarding the individual, but only if people feel empowered and can be actively engaged in decision-making. Intrinsic, not extrinsic, motivation is necessary for complex and creative work.

 

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