Tagged: hierarchy

Forty three (ii)

“Didn’t think so! Instead, we need to add layers of understanding to the information network and ultimately the influence flow through the analysis of relationships, behaviors and knowledge.

“In mapping the continually changing relationships in an organization – and I don’t define the organization as stopping at the payroll – we can distil a picture of the real organization. I guess you could call it the unofficial or real org chart if doing so didn’t still conjure up outmoded ideas of hierarchy and bureaucracy.

“In mapping the continually changing behaviors – proclivities, both analogue and digital – we improve our understanding of how information and knowledge jumps the organization’s synaptic gaps.

“In mapping knowledge formation – we learn what aids and what hinders the organization’s facility to understand, predict and respond to its environment. This is of course the hardest task of all when you consider that organizations rarely if ever know what they know let alone really understand how such knowledge crystallizes in the first place.”

“Glad I asked,” John said.

Yvonne tried to clarify what Saket was saying, “So, people talk about social networks as enabling easy sharing – I think the expression is ‘frictionless sharing’. Is that what you’re saying will happen inside organizations too? You know, like many companies, we’re still effectively experimenting with a so-called enterprise social network.”

“An excellent question Yvonne, and I think we’ll discuss this further in the last part of the day in terms of social business. Friction is an important parameter of any system. What do I mean by that? Well, imagine Eli feels no friction sharing everything with you. Everything he does, everywhere he goes, everyone he meets is streamed – perhaps dumped is a better word – onto your desktop. Nice eh? Not really. The friction, the resistance or burden in the process has just moved from Eli to you. Why would you want all this clutter and what are you going to do with it?”

Saket paused for thought momentarily; adopting a look I’ve associated with him searching for a way to hit the idea home.

“You need tools to surface the right information at the right time in the right format from Eli’s stream, and John’s stream, and BB’s stream, but we also need synaptic gaps so that some stuff doesn’t jump the gap and make it into the stream in the first place. It helps if Eli, John and BB are a bit self-selecting in what makes it into their stream. They have to be curators of their own stream up to a point. Let’s look at in terms of personal reputation.”

Saket had made a connection with Yvonne by picking the right words, framing it in a way he knew would get her brain fired up, and have her carry the idea into Attenzi.

“Everyday, in the non-digital world, we make thousands of little decisions about what to share with others based on our quantifying how relevant we think they’d find it. It’s so natural that we hardly notice we’re doing it. If we go to them with stuff that doesn’t make the grade, they’re increasingly reluctant to entertain us in future and our reputation is effectively eroded. I believe that process has to live on in the digital world.”

I was stupid enough to show my agreement.

“Love it Saket.”

“Ah, but do you?” he replied.

Damn it, I thought, I’ve missed something.

Forty three (i)

Saket made some comments about organizations becoming increasingly biomorphic; i.e. resembling living organisms. These contributions didn’t make the final report because the comments were fleeting and came just as everyone was becoming more interested in the afternoon break, but I thought you’d like them. They’ve definitely fuelled the dinner conversation between Dom and me.

One biomorphic metaphor treats everyone as if they were a synapse in the brain. Important messages are passed across the synapse and less important ones don’t make it. The same goes for sharing information around the organization. Whereas traditional business relies on some bureaucracy to determine what constitutes organizational knowledge, this function is delegated to the individual who now determines whether something is worth sharing / passing on or not, explicitly or tacitly.

Apparently, this has serious ramifications for the organization’s hierarchy in so much as there won’t be one. Or more precisely, the organization will have the right structure at the right time; today’s will suit today’s environment, tomorrow’s will suit tomorrow’s.

Attenzi isn’t ready for this.

I think Saket sensed as much and suggested it was indeed time for coffee. And no one argued. But John, Yvonne, Saket and I continued the thread during the break.

“Saket, that last bit was a bit out there!” John said.

“’Out there’ as in down the road, or ‘out there’ as in way off the money?” Saket asked with characteristic precision.

“Well, I mean, compared to our understanding today of our use of our information network.”

“Yes, that’s a good point,” Saket replied. “So when we map the information network we find it is, inevitably, far from what anyone might ever describe as perfect – information is in the wrong place and wrong format at the wrong time – and we’re left short of knowing exactly what to do about it. ‘Let’s communicate more!’ we all shout, as if this old truism is somehow going to solve the problem without further cutting into the time we’re actually supposed to be doing stuff.”

We nodded in agreement.

“Would anyone like more meetings? More email?”

We shook our heads in agreement.