Innovation is about making connections

The network era workplace requires collaboration and cooperation because complex problems cannot be solved alone. Tacit knowledge, that which cannot be codified or put into a database, needs to flow. Social learning, developed through many conversations, enables this flow of tacit knowledge. This is not ‘nonsense chat’, as traditional management might view it, but essential for creating stronger bonds in professional social networks. Companies have to foster richer and deeper connections which can only be built over time through meaningful conversations. This is why social learning in the workplace is necessary for business.

Worker autonomy is a foundation stone for effective social learning. It is also the lubricant for an agile organization, where initiative, creativity and passion are encouraged. Individual autonomy in turn fosters group diversity.

As traditional core business activities get automated or outsourced, almost all high value work will be done at the outer edge of organizations. Life is complex and even chaotic on this fuzzy edge. Here, where things are less homogeneous, there is more diversity and there are more opportunities for innovation. Individuals, project teams, and companies have to move operations to the edge to stay current. Business models today need to be more open, networked, and cooperative to stay competitive in the hyper-connected economy.

Change and complexity are becoming the norm in our work. We already see this with increasing numbers of freelancers and contractors. Any work where complexity is not the norm will be of diminishing value.

Embracing complexity is where the future of work lies.

7 Responses to “Innovation is about making connections”

  1. Guy Larcom

    As an instructional designer driving social interactions that relate to the learning objectives is something I often think about. Are there any specific ways you see businesses and organizations driving social learning from within?

    I wonder about the use of social media in corporate learning and elearning.

  2. Meredith Conder

    I am a student of social business. For me, it’s the most effective way to work, but I’m stuck in a hierarchical organization with graded positions and job titles. How do we compensate workers appropriately in a flatter organization? Is pay commisurate with goals met? I personally need a team of people to meet my goals. Should we all get paid the same for our success or failure – kind of like the “Friends” ensemble approach? The actors in Friends weren’t paid per line that they had, but rather for the success of the show. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    • Harold Jarche

      Dr. Deming (1984) identified the 3rd deadly disease of management as – Annual Performance Appraisals (management by objective, management by fear) – it’s NOT about individual performance.

      Here’s a comment from Jon Husband on a blog post of mine; Let’s talk about work:

      “Here’s just one relatively obvious example. Job evaluation methods (the ‘measurement’ of the size, weight, importance of a job) derives directly from, and reinforces fundamental Taylorist hierarchy. How we look at and ‘measure” jobs should change, and perhaps quite a bit, in an interconnected and networked environment.

      BUT … there is a federal law (in the USA, Canada and I think most if not all western European countries) mandating Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value. Guess what establishes ‘equal value” ? And what’s more, the generic job measurement factors contained in every job evaluation method (Skill, Effort, Responsibility and Working Conditions) are directly cited / referred to in the EPWEV legislation.

      The HR world and HR management methods are almost entirely comprised of pre-network core assumptions about work, how it’s done, how it’s managed and why / how people are motivated to work.”

      Lastly, I would recommend Dan Pink’s video on what motivates people:


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