Changing how people and organizations interact

Jon Husband has recently published a paper, What is wirearchy? In case this is a new term, the definition of wirearchy is was posted on the top right of my site. In the paper, Jon starts with the origin of the framework:

In that context of ubiquitous impact, reams have been written about the erosion of the effectiveness of command-and control as the dominant model for leading and managing purposeful organized activities in business, education, government and governance, politics, culture and the arts … all the areas in which humans act together to create and get things done. That mode of getting things done is evolving to champion-and-channel … championing ideas and innovation, and channeling time, energy, authority and resources to testing those ideas and innovative possibilities).

There is little doubt that rigid, hierarchical command and control is not working very well in any field, including its originators: the military and the church. On Twitter yesterday the togetherLearn gang discussed the roots of human computer interaction (HCI) and how we need something akin to “human organizational interaction” as a similar combined field of practice for the post-industrial workplace. I see wirearchy as a framework for practitioners of such a new discipline as HOI.

For instance, Jon gives some specific advice for leaders, managers, employees and citizens. Taking from each of these, I would suggest something like the following for organizational performance professionals (HR, T&D, OD, IT, etc):

Understand the scope and reach of interconnected markets, people and flows of information. Learn how and why people are connecting, talking and sharing information by doing so yourself. Listen, set an example and be a coach in your work. Be responsible, accountable and transparent in all you do.

Jon concludes his paper with the “Fundamental Sociology of Networked Knowledge Work”:

An adult-to-adult model (rather than parent-child) is emerging – with all of the attendant responsibilities for both parties in the relationship.

Many workers, as well as supervisors and managers, will find this kind of a transition rather difficult as too many of our structures have been developed from an opposite sociological perspective. That does not mean that a restructuring of how we organize our work is not neccessary, it will just be difficult in some cases.

2 Responses to “Changing how people and organizations interact”

  1. Karyn Romeis

    Nigel Paine delivered a webinar to the Learning & Skills Group this week in which he said orgs should look less like pyramids and more like pomegranates. I’ve heard a few other analogies. Whatever the case, it shouldn’t look like a pyramid. It really isn’t helpful or empowering.


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