So far, wirearchy as a managing framework for networked business and organizatons is the only one that makes sense to me, which is why it has a category of its own here.
“A dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology”
A while back, Jon Husband parsed wirearchy to see if it still made sense, and it does. In looking at the parts of the framework; they are, for the most part, embraced by progressive organizations:
- knowledge – check
- trust – check
- credibility – check
- results – check
- interconnected people – check
- interconnected technology – check
However, there are not too many places where you actually see “a two-way flow of power and authority”. Actually, the only place I’ve seen this two-way flow is in cooperatives or loose networks, like our group, the Internet Time Alliance. I’ve recommended before that the training department inverse the hierarchical pyramid, but can corporate management do this? Can there be a real two-way flow of authority? We have a two-way flow of authority in democracies, but this usually flows up the the pyramid only every four years or so.
Corporations were created to give limited liability to organizations that were taking on large, capital-intensive projects. Today, many corporations are based on intangible goods and services, like software or processes. Do we still need a corporation to enable wealth for post-industrial businesses? Open source has shown that software can be developed faster and cheaper (and many would say better) without a corporate structure. There are alternatives.
We should be looking at alternatives to the corporate model because networks are not markets and networks require structures that are more flexible and can respond faster to change than hierarchies. I’ve said before that work in complex environments require faster feedback loops. Social networks, which are comprised of people that we trust in some way, can speed up feedback loops in our problem solving at work. However, to do this, we have to already have that connection. The organization has to incorporate social networks as part of its structure and perhaps that is the first step in developing a wirearchy: giving explicit permission to engage in social networks and bypassing, or even obsolescing, the formal communications structures. If the work still gets done, you don’t need the formal structure any more, and you’re on the road to becoming a wirearchy.