Our dominant models of how we organize and work as a society are fundamentally changing as we transition from an Information-Market economy to a Creative-Network economy. Charles Green succinctly explained the order in which this transition happens:
“Ideas lead technology. Technology leads organizations. Organizations lead institutions. Then ideology brings up the rear, lagging all the rest—that’s when things really get set in concrete.”
I broke this down in detail in a post on the new business ideology. This was further explained in Adapting to Perpetual Beta, my volume on leadership in the network era.
This week I had the pleasure of conducting a workshop and presenting to over 500 CEO’s of small and medium size businesses, all members of Le groupement des chefs d’entreprise, an organization with almost 2,000 members in several countries that has been in existence for about 30 years. One of the presenters was the co-vice president of a roof truss manufacturing company in northern Québec. Her story reflected the fact that “Organizations lead institutions”. Bénédict L-Deschamps explained her varied career before joining the company. She had worked as a hairdresser, first trying to distance herself from the family-operated business and later went to school to become a social worker, but quickly realized that the academic approach was not grounded in reality. Bénédict then went back to school to learn about business. There she studied F. Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford and their approaches to management. When she asked when she would learn about how to manage the company for the 21st century, the professor told her that was not part of the curriculum. Bénédict promptly walked out of the class and never returned. Shortly thereafter she found Le groupement, and has been an active member ever since. This is where she learns how to be a better professional.
“A professional is anyone who does work that cannot be standardized easily and who continuously welcomes challenges at the cutting edge of his or her expertise.” —David Williamson Shaffer
Business schools are a technology of the last century, initially created to meet the demands of new corporations to train middle managers. They no longer meet the requirements of managers and business owners to deal with the complexity of business in the network era. It is time for a change.
I have said before that a professional learning community, with its redundant connections, repetition of information, and indirect communications, is a much more resilient system than any designed professional development program can be. The bottom line is that learning faster is not about taking more courses or consuming more information. It’s about having better connections. Well-managed professional communities of practice with a good vision and a compass for the future can provide a trusted environment for making these connections. My experience with Le groupement this week showed how well this can be done. I have seen the future.
“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” —William Gibson
To complete Charles Green’s process, and set things in concrete, here is my vision for the next business ideology.
It is only through innovative and contextual methods, the self-selection of the most appropriate tools and work conditions, and willing cooperation that more creative work can be fostered. The duty of being transparent in our work and sharing our knowledge rests with all workers, especially management.
Merci Bénédict pour ton inspiration!