Friday, June 17, 2011

Is an Organization a Hierarchy and/or a Network?

Back to work after a wonderful vacation in the US! Really enjoyed being there. My sister lives there. We went to the Gulf of Mexico with them and stayed there for a week. And we also travelled to Washington D.C. Went to the Museums in D.C. (we had already 'done' the monuments in a previous trip), went hiking in Shenadoah National Park, etc.
Now back to work. Worked through my email, feeds and tweets. One post I saved to read was this interesting post by prof. John Kotter, Hierarchy and Network: Two Structures, One Organization. A must-read for all social media and social business people! Lots of discussion there. I also commented on the post. I wrote:
Wow, lots of discussion here. I liked the post as well. I blogged about this topic a couple of times. I agree with some of the comments made stating the hierarchy and business is older than the 19th century. I do think you can say the 19th century made hierarchy the way to go. I think this is one of the reasons social media is so popular. All of a sudden we are seeing the importance of networks. But as some commenters wrote: a network does not exclude a hierarchy. How do businesses start: usually as a network, a community. After growing some usually hierarchy is made explicit. But the hierarchy usually was there from the start if you analyse the network. Arie de Geus addresses this deeply in his book 'The Living Company'.
So, I think all companies have hierarchy and networks. The problem is most companies only focus on and support the hierarchy. The network is hardly supported. Just look at the amount of money that is put into tools support business process automation... I find this one of the reason why internal use of social media is so interesting. Not to say business process automation is useless. But to say that's good, but we must also support the networks to improve business processes (and vice versa).
What I meant with my blog posts relating to this topic are these two posts, for instance. Also relate to Dave Gray's post 'The Future is Podular'. Fits perfectly next to Kotter's post. Interesting post by Kotter, don't you think?!
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