With all the tools available for publishing information and sharing ideas that has been named Web 2.0, it is about time that we talk about another trend that in probably more important for companies and for the hierarchical structures that organizations have been deploying throughout history. The idea behind the name is that you can get real collaboration and idea-sharing if you want it. The tools are there, they are not very sophisticated but they do the job. Wikis, blogs, forums, email… they will contribute to create a flexible and innovative organization… in case you want one.
Andrew McAfee, who coined the term, and Tom Davenport have been exchanging ideas about this issue, and this week they have pointed out the need for an organizational mandate, not only technology, to really get the results of innovation and collaboration. What is interesting is that the discussion is already at this level, meaning that the trend is important enough to spend some time thinking about its future impact in business.
As Prof. McAfee points out, not all organizations will follow the trend, but for those who want to explore new ways to share ideas and foster bottom-up innovation, the availability of these cheap and proven tools is great news.
What I expect is that some of the most innovative organizations will join the group of companies letting this happen, and forgetting about hierarchies, focusing on the concept of heterarchies, in the same lines that Paul Adler defined in a seminal article “Market, Hierarchy, and Trust: The Knowledge Economy and the Future of Capitalism”, that was published in Organization Science, and presented a solution to the dichotomy market-hierarchy for the new organizations that wanted to focus on knowledge and people more than on power and control. These same organizations are the ones that will use these tools, and focus on knowledge and collaboration, rather than positions and power.


Markus 18 Octubre 2012 - 11:32

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