In 1999, Jon Husband coined a new term, wirearchy:
a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on information, knowledge, trust and credibility, enabled by interconnected people and technology
As I bump against corporations in my work of implementing networked learning, collaboration or business, I am beginning to realise that Jon’s organising principle is what’s missing. As companies try to move to Enterprise 2.0 or Web 2.0 they are constrained by Organisation 1.0. They may be using the tool, the terms, or some of the techniques but they are still mired in industrial management. The major premise of The Future of Management is that real innovation only happens when you change your management model. All other changes are incremental but management innovation can be exponential.
I’ve worked for some interesting start-ups doing some innovative work, but I’ve noticed that they all use the same management methods as the companies they’re trying to subvert. Even Google uses mostly instructor-led classroom training, for no reason other than that’s how training is done. I think that these industrial-age management models will be like a weight around these initially innovative companies, especially as cycle time decreases and competition for creative people increases.
I’m doing some work with a start-up in the HR field and I wonder if there are “2.0” versions of tools and techniques we take for granted in this space. Is there a better alternative to the organisation chart? Do job descriptions actually tell us anything? Do most businesses need regular hours of work? Is compensation based on time really necessary?
These kinds of questions don’t get asked until you start looking at the entire organisation with a different lens.