hierarchy shift

“it is a battle between those for whom hierarchy and authority reign supreme and those who believe diverse, distributed and democratic approaches are best.” – the-war-between-authority-and-democracy-happening-now/

“Finally, the very definition of conservatism entails conserving something.  This is not an urgent priority for someone who sees reality as improving.  But, if the world is going to the dogs, then we need to hold on to the more just hierarchy of yesterday.” – what-reality-are-trump-people-living-in/

“The real engine of value in your organisation is the interactions and collaborations in and through the hierarchy. These collaborative relationships are where the work gets done and where the formal hierarchical decisions are shaped, influenced or frustrated.” – the-wirearchy-makes-your-hierarchy-work/

“A hierarchy is a hub-and-spoke network and pure hub-and-spoke network is nothing more than a hierarchy.  Many organizational consultants today make the argument of Hierarchy versus Network — you have to pick one.  But, hierarchies are networks with specific properties!  Hierarchies and networks are on a continuum — they are not separate species! They don’t collide, they meld.” – watson-looks-at-networks.html


What is new in this emerging network era is how much information on the current state of affairs we can access if we want. Many of us are overwhelmed. It would be comforting to let hierarchy and authority weigh supreme and look after things. It would mean giving up on the democratic values many of us grew up with and may have taken for granted. Unfortunately our institutions do not have the answers. They were all designed for a different era. Our markets, designed to capitalize on gaps and weaknesses, are already focused on creating digital platform monopolies, so that the rest of us become nothing more than users and renters of space. When we die, everything that we rented – our music, our lodgings, our software – no longer belongs to us. Even our identities, like email addresses and usernames, disappear. We become consumers, but not owners. Is digital indentured servitude our dystopic future?

Questioning existing hierarchies is necessary to create the wirearchies of the future where there is shared power and authority based on mutual trust. The dominant model needs to shift on the continuum, away from hierarchy, toward networks. Reverting to old, and simple, hierarchies removes us from our obligation as citizens to build a networked organizational model for society. It must be one in which tribes (families), institutions, and markets co-exist under the dominant umbrella of networks. Giving up our influence in networks by trusting institutional or market hierarchies is an abrogation of our democratic responsibilities. In the network era, we are the media and we are the experts, whether we like it or not.

3 Responses to “hierarchy shift”

  1. Gail Radecki

    I like your thoughts on ‘renting’ because they are spot on. You’re right, we don’t–can’t–own digital things like usernames. They aren’t currency to pass on to new generations and they are ever-changing and fleeting because of the rate of change in technology.

    Mankind’s greed for wealth and power will overturn and betray itself one day, and those of us who prefer to live in a networked environment where shared information and decision-making take precedence will have to pick up the pieces.

    • Harold Jarche

      Picking up the pieces after the platform monopolists: now there’s something to aspire to 😉

  2. gregorylent

    out beyond networks … holistic .. and the communication medium is telepathy .. 300 years from now


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)