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My latest gigantic post (of course with shoddy formatting)...anyway make sure you make some coffee, this is a long one...and perhaps even some toast
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Robyn Miller's profile photoLuis Suarez's profile photoKeith Brooks's profile photoJon Husband's profile photo
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Thanks +John Tropea for summarizing this phenomenon so succinctly (even though you think it's a ramble, I think it's genius in making the point). This describes my work life so much. And I can't explain how this has happened to me except to say that I freelance a lot within my own company. My leadership supports this, they know I add value, and I also know that on some level some people must look at me and wonder what the heck my job is.
 
Great robyn, if you can please leave a comment on my post describing your work.
 
+John Tropea Holy smokes!! This is what I call an essential Reading of the Month, if not of The Year, my friend! I have just read through it after dinner and my head is spinning with lots of ideas! Need to read it tomorrow morning and see how many of those stay behind, but what a fabulous post! Feels very apropos with the one I shared earlier on today as well on redefining meaningful work, which seems to be one of my favourite topics du jour ... hehe

Well done!! :-D
 
Head spinning is exactly where I was after reading this as well +Luis Suarez... And it was just the energizer I needed. I will be rereading and sharing copiously through work channels in the morning. +John Tropea, I sure will, when I'm back at a full keyboard and screen tomorrow :)
 
+Luis Suarez I missed your new post, it surely fits in nicely. This post started simple and then each day someone posted something new and new and new...it just kept going...pretty hard to encapsulate a topic when it's happening in a bi g way (ie. it's been happening for a while, but now it's reaching a tipping point in the blogosphere).

I had to be careful not to make it too obtuse...I left out lots of content on employee engagement and instead just linked to those posts
 
+John Tropea That's what I loved about the blog post itself, that will serve everyone out there get a really good digest of where we are in helping redefine the workplace as we know it and very much along the lines you hint with the analysis and the various links included. I tell you what, if someone would ask me what would be the single blog entry that would help define the next evolution of where we are heading with The Social Enterprise, this would be it. As good and succinct as it gets without being boring or missing the point. Quite the opposite! Fascinating read and a trip down the memory lane on the Internet Blogosphere on Workplace 2.0

Essential reading! Thanks again, John, for sharing it across and for all of the hard work!
 
This should be mandatory reading for everyone working in corporates.... and elsewhere
 
+John Tropea Nice, nice, but I'm still puzzled why all still accepts "organisational hierarchies" as a given... after all they're nothing but frameworks for work processes, of the push kind mostly, based on technology like quills, whips and shoe leather. Your post describes the beginning of an alternative framework, now using IT, for the workflows - so why not unceremoniously bury the old one day soon and get rid of most of the problems you describe, all in one swat?
 
+Sig Rinde Outstanding comment, indeed! And I will let John to comment further on it, but from my ¢2 ... I would probably say "One step at a time, my friend!"; Rome wasn't built in an hour and we probably need to consolidate that trojan mice doing their magic before taking everything else by storm ;-)) Start small, build from there, but I agree with you 100%, it's gotta happen at some point in time! And yes, the sooner, the better! :)
 
+Luis Suarez Hehe, I do agree to the "One step at a time" - but how would one know in what direction to step unless one recognises the fact? ;)
If the fact (that the organisational hierarchy has only one purpose) was abundantly clear, then things becomes way simpler; the little steps would then be to fulfil that purpose (making the work flows flow) by other means, like something a tad more modern than what the Roman army was good at, hey we have IT now, much possible there!
But why is not IT focused on doing exactly that? Yep, because orgs are taken for granted and never ever questioned...
So there you have the first, and most important step! Recognise reality, challenge the "truth" ;)
 
+Sig Rinde 100% in agreement! And I suspect that plenty of us, knowledge workers, know in which direction to go and what steps to take; it's probably more about deciding how disruptive we would want to make that direction towards change and what not. I think that challenging the status quo is a very very healthy activity and should be very much encouraged. It sparks critical thinking to no end and surely helps question what works and what doesn't and try to fix what doesn't.

In +Harold Jarche's http://www.jarche.com/2011/10/the-new-knowledge-worker/ +Jon Husband made a great point of how many decades it took the taylorism to stick within the corporate environment and it's also nicely timed with +Euan Semple's mojo of taking 50 years for social networks to shake the ground within the corporate environment; we have been having Social Web for over 17 years, so that means we are just half way through changing in the right direction. Perhaps on the second part things will accelerate more as we keep questioning that status quo through critical thinking and a growing urge for meaningful work. Who knows...
 
+Luis Suarez There we go!
But here's a thought... which btw is why I've always been sceptical to some of the "social" stuff approach:
Given that organisational hierarchies main (only I'd say) purpose is to make the work flow flow then one should focus on the flow part, i.e. process. This is not really the strong side of "social" technologies even if they do offer some relief. A true framework for Barely Repeatable Processes would be needed - i.e. something that "knows where you are" so it can deliver the correct task, all the pertinent information and capture what happens - but still leave the path (Barely Repeatable that is) to be decided by the participants where it makes sense. Framework-wise more like a riverbed than a pipeline as we know most process systems (BPM anyone?) to be.

And while at it, another thought: The "science" of management is all centred around the organisational hierarchies with it's appendages like meetings, reporting, budgets, business rules and double-entry book keeping: Two thousand years ago the Roman army decided that one supervisor per ten subordinates was the thing, hence decurions and centurions. Now after two thousand years and 100 years of business schools and 40,000 management books in print at any time the "scientist" now believe the number should be eight.
Glad the other sciences have progressed a tad further... :D
 
+Sig Rinde Great points again, Sig! I would even venture to go further on why social does make sense even more within that context of Barely Repeatable Processes and perhaps most of our knowledge work altogether. And that's how little our knowledge work is actually taking place right next to processes. I mean, you are in a very specific job role where your entire day is based solely around business processes it's very rare that for most of us to spend the vast majority of our 8 hours (If not longer!) a day would be based on business processes, yet, we have got a growing need to reach out, to connect, to share our knowledge across, to collaborate, to innovate with our peers, customers and BPs, without having even to resort to business processes in most cases. In that context BRP would make even a stronger case for its own need, along with that one of social tools to help facilitate each and everyone of those tasks.

That's why it may well take some time to sink in, but I do believe we are on the tipping point of no return from become Social Enterprises. It's that kind of disruption within the organisation to help push for BRP to kick in and have a significant impact on what we do, and it won't even reflect much on business processes, but yet, it'd be critical for the latter to succeed altogether, just like email has done for the last 40 years and counting! Even as an exception handler ...
 
+Luis Suarez Aha, now we get into the semantics of things - "business process" in my view is mostly misunderstood as something linear and predictable (Easily Repeatable, "ERP"), like Case Management, and hence quite nicely handled by say BPM.
But in truth "process" is everything, defined as: "A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end". So when we discuss/collaborate here, it's a process, when I dress up in the morning, when I decide to buy a new bike, everything.
The interesting thing about ERP and BRP is that ERP is a subset of BRP: When you wake up in the morning you'll wake up, have a shower, shave (ok not you then :D), eat breakfast - mostly ERP'ish (don't think your creativity would suffer seriously if you followed that path each morning). But then path decisions must be taken and the BRP unfolds: Cycle to work? Take the bus? Go to the beach? Now think a patient arriving at a hospital, you having an idea at work... same thing, many ER Process snippets becoming a BR Process whole.
 
+Sig Rinde Nice one! Terrific way of describing how processes unfold and how at any given point they are never written in full print as how they would kick in for that particular action! Unless BPM or Business Processes per se, everything else has got that random / chaotic effect where the knowledge work decides how to proceed further with that process. I agree that everything we do could be flagged as a process, in that context, but random, serendipitous knowledge encounters or whatever else would have a different result each and every time, which is where the "B" will kick in eventually! I guess where I am going with this is an open question of how businesses can free up that chaotic, random process handling that seems to keep providing the biggest value when talking about innovation? Always looking for a new, innovative way of obtaining the same end-result, if not better.
 
+Luis Suarez Agree, agree - we just have to take care of something; that we do not waste resources when we "framework" the flows - like water we can use pipelines but we know that does not work for knowledge work, we can use riverbeds that has outer banks that keeps all going in the same direction while the water is free to find it's own way around stones and logs, or, as we do today, pass buckets.
The bucket passing tools; meetings, emails, budgets, etc etc are extremely costly and resource heavy to use, efficient on the microlevel as any ESV throwing around ROIs will tell you, but not effective for the whole seen under one. So I like riverbeds. :)
 
+Sig Rinde Love the analogy, Sig! And I couldn't have said it much better! In the Age of Flow, nothing can just stop the "water" of knowledge and information from flowing from knowledge worker to knowledge worker! Getting rid of as many frictions as we possibly can, whether email, meetings or budgets based ones would prove so critical for the own success of the Social Enterprise! Well said!! :)
 
Hi +Luis Suarez and Hello +Sig Rinde, interesting analogy!
Thanks to a Blog post by +Oscar Berg about Future Digital Workspace, I recalled an image I once had: Future workplace shall be designed more like rivers that create may paths flowing through a populated delta. And not "well-designed" dams (i.e. portal and/or data-base) that are stopping the flow.
(see our short discussion in.. https://plus.google.com/110127260435282828633/posts/3Ti9DvkUzKf )
Yap, sadly, lots managers in "traditional" organization love to invest in big projects that build big dams.. and put their name on it.
 
+CheeChin Liew Hiya, CheeChin! Thanks for dropping by, my friend! What a wonderful analogy, indeed! I can see how there may be two confronting forces at play over here, those of us who want the river to flow as strong and dynamic as we possibly can and disperse as profound as we would hope for in that massive delta and those other folks who want to keep building those big dams to help stop the river flow... Well, what can I say? ... Let the river(s) flow! :-D hehe
 
Not sure I get you +Sig Rinde are you saying do away with hierarchy networks, rather than co-existing with emergent networks....maybe we can talk to JP's excerpt:

"Hierarchical structures were the most efficient way of getting things done: deciding what’s to be done, allocating the tasks to people, giving them the resources needed, sending and receiving the “orders”, aggregating news of progress, dealing with the “conflict” of change, monitoring progress, intervening as required. This is not the same for knowledge workers; often, such decisions are better taken by domain experts closer to the “coalface”. Overall vision and strategy still tend to get set by leaders and leadership teams, but these are leaders, not managers, with the responsibility to do just that: lead."


Much has been posted about exception handling (which is related to my post, but not the focus) but +Larry Irons included a great excerpt in his post the other week by Max Pucher:
http://skilfulminds.com/2011/09/28/social-flow-and-the-paradox-of-exception-handling-in-acm

"Change is not just driven by allowing users to write rules for unexpected exceptions in processes. The point is rather that processes should not even experience exceptions, but be so flexible that goals and outcomes drive the process change and allow the knowledge owning business experts to perform them as they see fit."
 
+Dennis Callahan Wow, I'm going to get into your comprehensive post on the future of work...this is such a huge topic; my post was more on swarming but I couldn't help veering off from time to time

I like your learnstreaming visual; here's something related (not by me)
http://libraryclips.blogsome.com/2010/07/08/the-know-why-tragedy-divorced-from-my-work-on-the-cutting-room-floor


“Steam - The thoughts, ideas and concepts that rattle around in our heads.
Ice - Books and polished documents that we reference from time to time.”

Also something by Lars Ploughman:
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1695391155

"A social intranet delivers a platform for a number of activities that aren’t fully supported by all those other systems. Notes, thoughts and links to useful information – lots of what knowledge workers juggle in the course of a day – don’t quite qualify as documents and they are not fit for email because they are inputs into a work process, not outputs. The social intranet addresses this gap in many organizations if it satisfies two criteria: It must be easy to use and it must cater for individual rationality."
 
+John Tropea Absolutely that the organisational hierarchy works as a flow framework distributing tasks, information and capturing an redistributing what happened, currently that's the only work flow framework for knowledge work (and other BRPs), so I'm not advocating "do away with" leaving a void.
I suggest that we strive to make it irrelevant as it's a method built using age old technologies (and the amount of time we spend on the actual bucket passing, the non-value-creation, can be argued to be about 2/3rds of our time), and now we have better technologies.
But for that we need an alternative model of reality, something that will never appear as long as we accept the org hierarchy as something that shall not be challenged. Modelling a model (the existing framework is a model already) is kind of stupid, we need to "see" reality without the old model and go about modelling reality directly.

Today all enterprise/business IT is created to support that exact framework and hence is only strengthening it. The org hierarchies are all about manual bucket passing so the current crop of IT solutions are all about making the bucket passing more efficient. To a certain degree this applies to "social" solutions as well as they do not address the "process" part first. Instead of focus on more efficient bucket passing IT should be focused on more effective flows.

To enable that we have to "see reality" (and not only the current model/framework of the reality); accept the real purpose of the hierarchies, only then would IT have a chance to start over and model reality directly with focus on the "process" of distributing tasks, include all pertinent information to the right person at the right time and capture all that happens including history and who and what. That would make the reporting, the Monday morning meetings, the budgets, the business rules, the double-entry book keeping and more superfluous leaving titles and lines on diagrams irrelevant. At the same time it would open for real transparency, full accountability, participant autonomy and above all focus on value-creation and not on pushing the flow forward (passing buckets).

And for that I'd argue one has to start with some kind of a "process engine" underneath, as reality is all about processes - BRPs that is in this case, the ERPs have good IT support already.
 
That is a long post, with much to think about. One question. Money. The ideas are all fine and good, but some ideas remind me of the meeting in Atlas Shrugged where people had to validate what they needed to get a salary. And of course one's need was not better than another. Now you bring this to reality from fantasy. So if the future is less big companies, but smaller niche SMBs the problem still remains money. People need to live. Sure we'd all like to work on what we love, but what if what you love doesn't pay that well?

What if what you choose to do at work, does not get noticed or ends up being nothing but a passing whim of someone else? Not everyone is an entrepreneur at heart and if they were, they would all have their own businesses.

Survival of the fittest is coming and it may not be economically viable. Or people who have historically not lived up to their side will get moving. Peer pressure as pointed out earlier. But this leads to other issues of adult cyber bullying.

I look at this for my kids and one asks what can I do, the other asks what can't I do. If the population is equally split, where do we go and how do we resolve it?
 
+Keith Brooks Great thoughts, Keith! And very valid concerns altogether! Indeed, money is always going to be there, as a potential issue, but one of the things that's also becoming rather obvious is that maintaining today's status-quo of things is a completely different thing than what we had say 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Our ambitions are completely different now than what they were back then. Yes, we have got a family to feed and bills to pay, but there is also an urge to want to do things right, and money doesn't necessarily need to be much of a bigger issue anymore than what it was. In fact, perhaps that's been our main problem, that we have been focusing too much on the $$$ vs. other things.

Like, for instance, what's going to happen when the vast majority of that 65% of the active working population leaves the corporate world and there aren't enough young talent to absorb all of that knowledge? Do you think companies will risk having to go through the alternative of not having enough young talent to handle business as usual? Do you think that if companies have got a choice to go for the new knowledge worker vs. whoever else they would not be going for those who can continue to bring business value and revenue in the current knowledge economy?

I am not sure, but I am starting to see a mutual benefit from both businesses and intrapreneurs to collaboratively work it out together and figure out the details and why I understand that not everyone would be an intrapreneur, they would still want to find a way to contribute and feel valuable, right? Or have we lost that along the way? If that's the case, what's left for us to enjoy from two thirds of our lives, considering the other third is sleeping? ;-))
 
John - more great resources and a water example (water in different states). Thanks!
 
+Luis Suarez The younger generation is always the movers and shakers till they become the older generation.
Altruism is not lost, nor is it upon us everywhere. Google is majestic for the masses but still rakes in the money.
But is there room for it all?
I agree losing the workforce is an issue, but one could also argue, it isn't. The knowledge, while useful in certain ways, is not in others. Numbers alone will not get replaced. See the last few years and post 9/11 economy the number of lost jobs and unemployment in parts of the US that have hit 9-10% Official rates which is probably double that unofficially in some places.
Maybe I see this as another case of the company abusing its employees, not in every case but how many startups survive to grow and employ 10,000 people? And the existing ones are not growing either. Thanks to BoA another 30,000+ have no jobs.

We are walking a line which has perils on both sides and a new generation may be more entrepreneurial but if so, why would they want to work for any large company instead of themselves?

An example we both recognize, a Smarter Planet for instance is what I seek, I LOVE the commercials and ads and would champion that equal if not greater to my Yellow world, yet nowhere on the site does it ask me to join them to help create one. Just to call sales people.

I envy the role you have inside because you are trying to get change to happen inside, something I could not do back then. But the challenge is for the big companies to truly make it work and walk the talk. One company, one mission but many ways to get there.
 
Very good points +Keith Brooks

Even if you do love it, perhaps it's not paying well or you don't like your lead or team mates, etc...I shared some of those points in my post on Engagement = Liking + wanting http://libraryclips.blogsome.com/2011/06/23/comparing-gamer-and-employee-engagement

Even though this is all about finding meaning in your work (the thing you spend most of your day doing) not everyone is going to be motivated or care about their work, let alone roam around and find interesting tasks...I don't think it will be the case that you may find yourself in the dark and can't find a task; rather we will belong to our units and always have our regular work; but at the same time we can choose to fufill ourselves (if you don't I'm sure leads will slot you into areas they see fit)...so perhaps it will in our best interest in the future to market all our skills and be proactive at work (kind of like the same attitude we have to life)


Survival of the fittest where an organisation is a market place of tasks...perhaps, but like I said above not sure if it will be a true market place...actually Keith this is an interesting point and I think we can only speculate so far...sometimes talking about the future hits a wall as you can only talk about it in today's terms
...but what it does mean is that with the automomy comes more responsibility (not just what you work on, but what you are going to work on next)

I remember my first position at work as the corporate librarian - I had to prove my existence; my boss didn't like me charging to overheads, she much prefered it when I charged my clients (when I say clients I refer to our employees). Any reference work I did over 15 minutes I had to charge for my time, which scared my clients a lot of the time, but at the same time it probably cost less for their boss to pay me rather than the engineer to search for stuff. Anyway it felt like I was running my own little business inside our organsiation (our organisation represented the world, and my clients and potential clients were the employees in our organisation)...not sure why I bought this point up now, but maybe it's to do with surviving in the workplace, proving your worth, rather than sitting comfortably but perhaps not achieving that much...so yes it's a win for business from that perspective as well

Yes +Luis Suarez money was our only thing we could clutch on to, but now dignity is back in the game, now all is not lost, and being treated as a non-robot is back as a negotiating part of your job condition ie. now a job may not seem so much like a job, but rather something you do that you really like, which like you say, means money doesn't matter as much as it used to. I think +Celia Virginia Harquail latest post relates to this point http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/11058603953
 
+Sig Rinde Your thinking is more advanced than mine when it comes to organisational design, so I think I need to read up on some of your posts or articles to get some background. But I do think I understand...you are talking about focusing on the process of achieving something, and how it should work more naturally, rather than an artificial flow that is hierarchy...plus you include points about observable work as a way to monitor, be aware (re: less meetings), a record of happenings (records meets engagement) ...and all of this changes the high level way we do business (more transparent, autonomous...not so much as authority by position)

So when you talk about hierarchy are you really talking about the reinvention of middle management as the focus?
 
Excellent commentary +Keith Brooks and +John Tropea Thanks much for having us enjoying such wonderfully insightful discourse! Really good stuff! Keith, with regards to "_We are walking a line which has perils on both sides and a new generation may be more entrepreneurial but if so, why would they want to work for any large company instead of themselves?_", to me, it's very clear; it's been that clear for the last 15 years and counting... to change the large company and make it something that I can feel most proud of. At all times.

It's that kind of co-responsibility, dignity, morals and, perhaps, above all, ethics that gives me a kick every morning come to work with my tribes wanting to make a difference, help change things that don't make really sense for 2011 and hoping that those small changes, over time, will have a higher impact. Yes, dreamland, perhaps, but I have got a bunch of anecdotes I have been collecting over the years of how those small changes provoked by those intrapreneurs, wild ducks, trust agents have changed a whole bunch of things and how they used to work, instead of just sitting there, waiting for the paycheck at the end of the month.

One thing I have been having very clear for a long while, is that if I ever just wanted to work for the money, I would have left the corporate world a long long time ago, and that would apply to any large corporation, not just IBM. I do value each and everyone of our contributions to make things better, whether inside or outside, but we have got to do it. It doesn't pay off much in the long run to stay still hoping that things will change. There is a great chance that they won't. That's why the motto behind that blog post I put together a little while ago around The Awakening 2.0 :-D

Oh, and with regards to the first couple of paragraphs, I guess, without going much further in detail, I could sum them up with a single hashtag: #occupywallstreet ;-))
 
+Luis Suarez Some dream large, and you definitely do my friend. Your work along with others has had great benefits inside, no question. When I left IBM it was because there was no way to be fulfilled at the time because I wanted more from them and they could not give it or do it then and there was no good way to take a stand at the time.
This is why I follow your posts, aside from the fact we got to meet and spend time together, because you are doing what others tried and failed. Had I stayed longer would have loved to be a part of that transformation which seemed so much further away then.
 
+Keith Brooks Thanks much for those kind comments! Feel pretty much the same way! It's been rather nurturing having these conversations over the years and thanks for sharing all of that great commentary. I know exactly what you mean. In my 15 years with the company there have been 3 occasions where I felt exactly like you described above and somehow, not sure why just yet, I have managed to pull it off thinking that it's these small things that provoke giant leaps into wanting to achieve something meaningful and rewarding that keep me going. I'm not sure whether I'll be seeing that full transformation in my working lifetime, but I can surely guarantee you there are a bunch of us who will try our hardest to make it happen eventually! It's just a matter of time and I happen to have plenty of it at the moment! ;-)) hehe

Again, really appreciate the dialogue and the friendship and surely look forward to keeping things real and down to earth with the conversations! Thanks much, my dear friend! :)
 
+Luis Suarez I believe you refer to the connecting of the dots as Steve Jobs said at his keynote at stanford. At the time the items are of importance but only after can you see the real picture connected.
I think I was too young to have the patience back then that I have gained since then.
 
+Keith Brooks Probably, Keith, perhaps that's what never ceases to stop with yours truly: patience and perseverance, while we wait for the dots to connect ... Time will tell ...
 
+John Tropea Had to read the links before I replied. Gamers, hmm, I would argue the same thing exists inside the problem solvers or troubleshooters. Seeking a solution to what may be an insurmountable issue. Which is why gamers keep playing the game, to beat it.
But what happens when you beat the game? This is what my son has done. He finished Lego Star Wars, now he plays for fun and does silly things with it, he's 7 though.
What if you made the effort and it all went for nothing? You got fired for your autonomy or because one year, after 5 or 10 or 20 you needed a break and the company axed you at that moment?
There are never bad ideas just bad timing.
The strong can pick themselves back up but not everyone is a serial entrepreneur and geared to getting back up every time.
The truth is anyone can do it, but few do and those are the leaders, everyone else are followers.
I remind my kids to be a leader and all that implies.
 
+John Tropea Almost... :) And apologies for muddling it up!

Here's a story line:

Say you and five friends start a new company, let's pretend an advertising company. All of you know your stuff, albeit with slightly different focus, interest, abilities and experience. On day one you all sit in one room and the telephone rings, a customer. Luis sitting next to it picks it up and does a damned good job at it, landing your first customer. This was noticed with much satisfaction by all of you so next time it rings all calls "Luis, call for you!" and soon Luis is the designated sales/customer-handing person.
By way of interest Keith starts doodling with some graphical ideas, you immediately have some channel ideas so you pick up the phone calling some friends to bounce off your ideas. And so forth. Group dynamics at it's best, and soon your little firm have natural leaders for each type of activity, the next graphical artists gets his desk next to Keith. But nobody bothers about titles until you're asked for it by some corporate customer going "ehh, yes, Keith is our arts director" while giving Keith a glance to see if that sound ok :)

The work flow in that example was all manual, but with extremely low overhead thanks to all sitting in the same room, hearing all, seeing all and communicating via looks and head nodding or the occasional group discussion without leaving your desk. Not a report in sight, you all know what's going on after all.

But soon you guys are 120 people and no single room can hold you anymore, offices are rented and walls are cropping up - so now you turn to the classic solution to make the work flows flow - you establish management positions, who will have morning meetings and gather in reports which are distilled into new reports for the management group who spend three hours meetings each Wednesday to inform each other and set next weeks goals. To make all that more efficient you invest in collaboration tools and budget tools and the half-hour slots in google calendar now becomes the guide for your day and scheduling-conflict-time-waster ("sorry, cannot on Tuesday, what about Monday week after?"). And Keith's almost 100% focus on creating great graphics soon falls to say 40% of the time, rest is spent on "managing" and meetings and reporting.

This is when the work to make the work flow flow becomes costly - Keith is value-creation-wise only 40% of the man he used to be (sorry Keith ;)) Luis having to handle all the interest have a few chaps and chapettes helping him so soon he's also a "40% man" (sorry Luis). And not to talk about the new hires that have to sit in at those meetings and write those reports - so you end up hiring nothing but 40% value-creation people!

If IT architects were abundantly clear that the sole purpose of the organisational hierarchies, the meetings, the calendars, the reports and budgets were nothing but a process framework (make flows flow) - then they would have shifted their focus away from making those manual work flow mechanisms more efficient to focus on actually making the whole more effective by making the flows flow (and flow is process, Barely Repeatable or not, so a process engine must be the core of such solutions). In short, make the 120 person group operate as if they were in the same room where no org hierarchy was needed (except to please old school corporate types who need it to navigate) and no reports required as all could see what was going on in real time.

That was the core of my thinking: See reality for what it is! That's the first requirement before IT can start creating the right kind of solutions that could replace the costly manual methods. Instead they are still focused on the efficiency of the old methods not on the effectiveness of the whole, which inevitably leads to modelling the old ineffective and costly models (methods) and hence cementing the old models even more.

If all of that 60% non-value-creation could be done away with by a new kind of work flow engine your new advertising company could triple it's output, and not to talk about the pleasure of not having to be pestered by bosses, pester subordinates, sit at long meetings, write reports, or struggle with budgets that we all know is less real than anything coming out of Walt Disney studios!
 
+Sig Rinde you need to turn that into a post...that's superb...more actual doing the work...and we are aware due to online networks

I'm not a mature enough organisational ponderer to counter your scenario...hence I'd be interested in what others think...

This reminds me of a post by Michael Idinopulos
http://www.socialtext.com/blog/2009/06/what-grandaddy-taught-me-about

Also reminds me of +Jim McGee post on craft work which was lost to the digital age, but is now observable again http://www.mcgeesmusings.net/2010/06/23/managing-the-visibility-of-knowledge-work
and more http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/9560846194

Let's see if we can counter the hierarchy:

1. Transaction costs - this was more about the reason to be an organisation (a group), whether it is a hierarchy or not...so we can ignore this one (yes I'm sure with things like oDesk we can more readily source people...but for our discussion I want to focus on the organisation as a good thing, and it's network structure is what needs attention)
- nowadays with online networks the transaction costs are real low as we can form optimal teams, actually they can form themselves (point of my post)

2. Resource allocation and budgets - same as above
- back to Alan Murray "In corporations, decisions about allocating resources are made by people with a vested interest in the status quo. “The single biggest reason companies fail,” says Mr. Hamel, “is that they overinvest in what is, as opposed to what might be.”
- without layers of management resources have less chance of being misallocated as we don't have dudes that have authority positions to run their own show without many rebutting (something that would not happen at W L Gore)

3. Information gatekeeper - middle manager typically owns (power) and filters (control) information
http://www.slideshare.net/20adoption/4-a-mitigating-risks-v5/7
- now we are all have access to information (decoupling)
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/3208716824
- at no time are we saying we don't need leads, we are just saying we need less managing

4. Setting priorities -

5. Monitoring progress -

6. Dealing with conflict -

JP says: ...such decisions are better taken by domain experts closer to the “coalface
- which also makes sense in relation to exception handling
 
+Sig Rinde I agree with +John Tropea that should be it's own post. Efficiency is important so people just get the job done, but you do need leadership, direction and accountability. It gets harder as you get larger. No question.
 
+Keith Brooks +John Tropea Ah I'm nothing but a sucker for "popular demands" so lemme see what I can do! :) But a note +Keith Brooks Agree that efficiency is good, but effectiveness beats efficiency every time - it's the "how you do things" versus "what you do" and to quote Peter Drucker "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."! And tasks need efficiency, process is all about effectiveness!
 
+Sig Rinde My apologies, i used efficiency but should have said effectively. You are correct.
 
+Sig Rinde Holy smokes! Sig, my dear friend, you are just too good to have shared such extensive and brilliant commentary over here in this Plus post. We are not worth it of the various great points you are bringing up over here! While reading through that story and to try to understand the repercussions of what some businesses have already started by reducing the center of gravity, giving back some of the business responsibility to the employees when making decisions or just simply use social software tools, like Activity Streams, to help reduce frictions and transaction costs. Somehow all of those three components seem to provide an opportunity to large biz to scale back to when they were just 5 folks doing the work. Fantastic analogy, Sig! I think it's one of those crystal clear examples as to why that re-design of not just business processes, but management alike would be incredibly helpful, specially, for large businesses, no longer co-located. Feel privileged to have learned a ton from just reading that entire response! Much appreciated, my friend! And I surely agree with you that effectiveness beats efficiency any day!

PS. See these are the kinds of conversations you just can't have in 140 characters ;-)) hehe (Sorry, couldn't resist!)
 
+Luis Suarez Thank you, thank you - "bowing" :-D And I do agree, 140 chars is sometimes limiting!
 
+Sig Rinde You are most welcome! I'm currently working on a couple of blog posts based on this thread and John's original blog post that I have meant to put together for a while and hoping to share them soon enough, in between business trips! We shall see! But definitely we need to get the word out on important points as shared above. Too good to be missed out!

Thanks again!
 
Re: Money.

The way money is dished out as salaries and boni (that sure sounds weird, doesn't it?) is directly related to and based on position in a traditional hierarchy, and as some of you know, my position is that (due to the now-networked environment) until the methodologies underneath the process of assigning boxes on the org chart changes (somehow) then money and the practices of 'scientific' management will remain in place and continue to cause much dissonance and (mostly) needless resistance to change.

Re: money, again. I am really very surprised that no one (well, except me once, in a tweet) has ever brought up the concept of "gainsharing", an old-ish remuneration philosophy and methodology that had some experimentation back in the day when there were still some viable unions.

I'd argue that it at least in concept is tailor-made for a networked world where will perforce see more self-directed work groupings, a massive change in the role of middle management, and a diminution in the more-or-less automatic attribution of positional power and status that we see in traditional hierarchies.

Just think of it .. more of the money paid to people based on what happens as a result of sharing information and knowledge in relevant and pertinent ways, and the distribution of that money paid made on the gains (from a baseline) accomplished by carrying out work.

Gainsharing as a productivity-development and remuneration concept began to go dormant around the year 2000 .. which may coincide with a range of factors .. less unions, more "back to basics" in business after 9/11, and so on.

As I said, I really wonder why no one has brought it up before.

Could it also be that a decent proportion of the people who have been the standard-bearers for Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business are tech-oriented people who are (in all fairness) basically starting to learn about organizational sociology as they go ? < /teasing >
 
Yeah .. the shorthand for what Olivier (a very very smart fellow IMO) wrote about is <b>"managerial capitalism"</b> .. managing the business so as to earn as much, as quickly as possible, from increasing share prices and the accomplishment of short-term performance objectives approved by a friendly Board and compensation committee.
 
+Jon Husband re: managerial capitalism

http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1413299168

"After years of stress and long hours to get the partnership, why would I be interested in the long-term future of the business? I have earned my reward, and nobody is going to take that from me until I retire. As an MBA student said to me in a class last night, becoming a partner is like a pie-eating competition and the prize is that you get to eat more pie"
- John Steen

http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/5621700715 "This creates the management culture of forcing efficiency changes to the point where you are gambling that no external “knock” will topple you. And with today’s high executive rewards, it is better to go for a few years of high profits and risk being kicked out as a result of lack of resilience than creating a long term viable operation. Trouble is, you are gambling with lives (mining) and shareholder value (recent derivative scandals) as well as climate (fossil emissions)."
- Steve Hinton

http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/5622292983 "As a manager organizing work you need to make strategic decisions about the capabilities of the organization. One of them is the level of resilience against external challenges verses operational efficiency...resilience describes an organization’s rebound capability...At the opposite end of the scale is efficiency. The more a network can specialize and streamline, the better it can get at doing one or a few tasks effectively. Of course, the trade off is that it cannot withstand a wide range of challenges, especially if these challenges are not factored in when designing and putting together the network...Process streamlining is another tactic, especially using automated IT systems and machines. Here again, the process will work well until an external challenge upsets the whole thing. And that is what Corporate Management is all about: it is a gamble that the unlikely outer challenges your organisation faces will not affect profits for the year you are responsible. And after all, if the awareness of any external challenges is not present, a manager cannot be blamed for not factoring it in.The recent Icelandic volcano ash surge is a good example. No one could have been expected to factor it in, and therefore the European transport network is unable to cope with an air traffic ban. Companies go bust, people get forced to take paid leave, and huge debts mount up. But there is no blame on management.If international oil companies no longer have any fields to explore and open up, thus reducing their output, it will not be blamed on management if they had only a short-term profit goal to maintain."
- Steve Hinton


Like you say it all comes down to the fundamentals of capitalism:

Reward long-term thinking and punish short-term selfishness
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1139994752

Sustainable value as opposed to shareholder value
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1171813048


From thin to thick value
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/3284285524
 
+Sig Rinde re: But soon you guys are 120 people and no single room can hold you anymore, offices are rented and walls are cropping up - so now you turn to the classic solution to make the work flows flow - you establish management positions

Some related information:

Altruistic drives weaken with distance whether genetic, geographic or cultural
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/928618536 "With scale these decision processes require hierarchical structures and compartmentalization since if each individual were expected to participate in every decision we’d all soon starve with lack of time for anything other than “deciding” group issues.However, hierarchies with scale become increasingly problematic because the relationship of proximity to altruism tends to narrow the focus of the Deciders.This is because WITH SCALE THE SELF-INTEREST MOTIVATION OF THE DECIDER REMAINS CONSTANT BUT THE FOCUS AND INTENSITY OF THE ALTRUISTIC DRIVE DOES NOT NECESSARILY EXPAND TO MATCH THE LARGER GROUP.Especially where the hierarchical structure erodes proximity.”


The Ground that Nurtured the Social Network
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1010680650

The Social Organism outgrew the Fundamental Social Network
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1010663739
 
A very enlightening discussion. It might interest the participants here to check out www.bettermeans.com, who are working on a software and business system that might just be able to do the things listed here.
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