Tracing the shift from "command and control" to "champion and channel."
Friday, November 29, 2002
Tell me it's not true. David Weinberger reports
, via Tom Matrullo, that advertisements written in Macromedia Falsh 6 have the ability to peer into our rooms via our computer's microphones and webcams
Via Mings' Metalogue
, drawn from "Whoosh - Business in the Fast Lane", by Tom McGehee:
Compliance Companies versus Creation Companies
Policy driven versus
Rule based versus
Conducts training versus
Allows for structured and unstructured learning
Forced organization versus
Good of organization over good of individual versus
Good of organization through good of individuals
Measures activity versus
Closed system versus
Internal focus versus
Risk avoidance versus
Confuses models with reality versus
Tries to re-create past success versus
Tries to create new successes
Methodology based versus
Expert's mind versus
Tolerates diversity versus
Thrives on diversity
Seeks equilibrium versus
Deficit focused versus
Creates burning platforms versus
Creates compelling opportunities
Application to national governments or revolutionary organizations is left as an exercise for the reader.
Found on MSN.com. Editors and journalists in peril. Cute, eh?!
Computers Go Too Far
Hey—that's MY job you're automating!
Google, the popular Internet search engine, now offers a page called Google News, a summary of what's going on in the world produced entirely by computers. Well, I say "entirely," but Google's computers don't actually gather the news. What they do is scan thousands of other Web pages and, using a secret formula, decide what the top stories are.
Thursday, November 28, 2002
From Jon Udell, an interesting overview on Social Network Analysis. As reported earlier, IBM's Institute for Knowledge-Based Organizations seems to be getting into this in a big way.
Certainly from our vantage point, couldn't make more sense - the networks and interconnectedness are here to stay, and the impacts they have on our organizations and behaviors will become more and more evident.
Seeing and Tuning Social Networks
Karen Stephenson’s Quantum Theory of Trust
"Professor Stephenson’s concept, which she calls the “quantum theory of trust,” explains not just how to recognize the collective cognitive capability of organizations, but how to cultivate and increase it. At age 50, Professor Stephenson is the most visible member (particularly in business circles) of a small but growing academic field called social network analysis. Originally derived from the complex math used to explain subatomic physics, it is being used to understand and manage the ineffable forces of human interaction within an organization’s walls — particularly those forces that can’t be captured in formal structures, such as pay scales and reporting relationships, but that implicitly govern the fate of every enterprise."
charting the emergence of audience driven media. One to watch.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Nifty stuff about knowledge workers
That damn wirearchy again. Always upsetting the best-laid plans. Here's an article from CNNfn
CSFB e-mail: Banking to 'buy'?
Messages from bankers to analysts indicate rating coercion, regulator says.
Monday, November 25, 2002
How will we concentrate when all we're gong to be doing is interacting? From Ming the Mechanic
Stimulating article by Fabio Sergio, covering many aspects of the connected world that's emerging, with many references. In the near past the concept of 'information anxiety' emerged. You know, there's so much information available that there always seems to be an ever-widening gap between what we know and what we think we should know. Now most well-connected people have probably given up on trying to know everything, and are probably getting used to the fact that you can figure out most things rather quickly, if your Internet connection is just close by. So, that opens up to the new concept of 'interaction anxiety'. I know that one. You know you could figure things out if you could just go to Google, or if you could just send a message to so-and-so, but if your DSL connection is down or you're on the road, you can't. Next step would be that everything would be more automatic, so you don't have to worry about what database you left that phone number in, or how you dial up to your ISP. The technology might become more invisible so you can concentrate on what you're doing.
Sunday, November 24, 2002
The Marines? Intel? 3M?
Through exercises like "Urban Warrior," the Marines want to find out if they can transform themselves into a human network - a structure that many believe to be more adaptive and flexible than a traditional hierarchy.[footnote 1]
Like the Marines, many U.S. corporations are trying to become more adaptive by moving away from centrally coordinated hierarchies toward a variety of more flexible structures. Intel, for example, often utilizes diverse, cross-functional teams that form around specific business issues or projects. Its organization looks more like a web of teams than a clearly defined hierarchy. 3M also does not follow the traditional approach to organizational design. 3M consistently achieves its goal of having 15 percent of its revenue come from new products by providing managers with the latitude to move from one business unit or laboratory to another without bureaucratic obstruction. Project groups, operating with few constraints from the formal organization, come together to accomplish a task and disband when their work is completed.[footnote 2]
One thing all of these new organizational forms have in common is that they resemble webs or networks - clusters of specialized units coordinated by communication and relational norms rather than by a hierarchical chain of command. "Specialization" is the key word because increased specialization enhances organizational adaptability in several ways. First, by focusing on more narrowly defined task domains, specialists accumulate large amounts of in-depth knowledge and expertise. By focusing their attention, they are also better able to monitor, and more likely to recognize and correctly interpret, indicators concerning impending environmental shifts likely to affect their special areas of expertise. Finally, groups of specialists operating in concert are more likely to craft creative and proactive solutions to complex organizational problems - complex problems are easier to solve when they are broken down into their component elements, and each component is tackled by specialists.[footnote 3]
A bit more SNA
The concepts of network analysis and socially translucent systems are applicable far beyond the confines of text-based chat.
In fact, these concepts are critical to the creation of truly useful knowledge economies and online communities.
The seeds of innovation are lying all around us, from Google's Backward Links to AOL's Buddy Lists to Amazon's Purchase Circles to the incestuous source links of Blogdex.
We humans are very social animals. It's about time more of us started recognizing this in the systems we design
It seems that maybe "wirearchy" is getting legit. I've been researching Social Network Analysis (SNA) and Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) for the last few days. There is more and more material popping up as evidence that leading-edge organizations are using these concepts and methodologies. It seems sort of "engineering-like", as it uses Graph Theory to pinpoint where there are nodes, clusters, hubs, propagators, etc. I'll bet a simpler evrsion, based on inferences drawn from a "map" of connections, would work nearly as well.
An excerpt from a recent article in Optimize magazine:
A fast-paced economy requires flexible, adaptive structures that self-organize internally in response to external changes. Managers don't need pictures of hierarchy; they need visualizations of the wide-ranging connections that make up companies' learning systems. Rather than charts showing who reports to whom, they need charts to show who knows what and whom, and who works most often with whom. That's the purpose of organizational-network analysis, the application of social-network theory to organizations. ONA paints a much more accurate picture of how a company actually works, shares knowledge, and completes processes.
Friday, November 22, 2002
Peter Morville, a well known information architect, on the relationship between hierarchy and hypertext. I agree with him that we'll always need hierarchy to organize and structure initiatives and activities, AND it's clear that the inherent nature of hypertext links "cuts across' hierarchical structure.
What remains to be seen is when large volumes of information and communication continue to flow in networks, what kind of adaptive responses to rigidity emerge? Some of the early signs are apparent, from Rheingold's SmartMobs to tipping points to a rise in the awareness of intuition and perception as signposts.
He's speaking about organizing information. I think that perhaps TheBrain's
way of organizing information is not entirely hierarchical, and it certainly does a good job of organizing. I think TheBrain's metaphor is highly user-centric, with what you're interested in at a moment in time at the center, with pertinent links arrayed about the center.
Hierarchy is the most simple and familiar way we organize information. From family trees to the animal kingdom to the corporate "org chart," we are constantly dividing information spaces into categories and subcategories. Users can quickly form mental models of hierarchical information spaces by recognizing the familiar tree structure and forming an implicit understanding of how to navigate. Hypertext can be leveraged successfully to complement an information hierarchy, enabling navigation options that cut across multiple levels and branches of the underlying tree structure. However, it's important to balance the goal of added flexibility with the danger of overwhelming complexity. Add too many hypertextual navigation options, and the user's mental model will turn to spaghetti. In general, hypertext should be used to complement rather than replace hierarchy.
An article from Business 2.0 suggesting that P@P technology is finding its way into "legitimate" enterprise
On Monday, Richard Branson's Internet radio subsidiary Radio Free Virgin will launch an upgraded version of its subscription service -- called Royal -- that will allow people to listen to more than 50 commercial-free radio stations with CD-quality sound for $5 a month. Included are stations dedicated to the work of individual bands, such as Beck, Sonic Youth, and U2, as well as channels with a more varied roster of rock, lounge, blues, and classical tunes. What is notable about the service is that its distribution mechanism relies on peer-to-peer technology.
Thursday, November 21, 2002
IBM is jumping all over wirearchy at their Institute for Knowledge-Based Organizations.
Here's a white paper titled "Blurring Boundaries, Crossing Barriers
The trappings of wirearchy? An article on reinventing work
from Metropolis magazine.
Technology has made the office more mutable, more flexible, but there's also an important social dimension. The use of e-mail, for instance, often means that some people rarely need to talk to each other. At the same time there's a value placed on collaboration and shared knowledge. I think of-fices must respond to this duality. I would also contend that the proliferation of cell phones and other devices that allow communication to take place "anytime and anywhere" means that we're undergoing a shift in our sense of private and public space. Our expectation is instantaneous communication, and an equally instantaneous reply. This is surely influencing how we interact in the workplace and requires new thinking about how we signal private and public space, or even private and public time...
I think it's a chicken-and-egg proposition: do furniture manufacturers make cubes because of the demand, or is the demand there because it's artificially created by the absence of any real alternatives? What's the future? Evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Technology will be the driving force behind change. When all of the surfaces that surround us can be comfortably worn on the body, when they become viable means for inputting, accessing, sharing, and storing information, the office space will need to evolve in order to maximize the benefits drawn from these advances. A deterrent to this happening will be a reluctance on the part of companies and their employees to venture into these new territories. Unfortunately there is a greater resistance to change than there is to stagnation.
The Death Of The Internet
To control the wirearchical side of the Internet, large hierarchies are aiming to do what they always have done when faced with a threat: shut it down.
Through limiting the amount of bandwidth that users employ, or introducing a tiered pricing sturcture based on bandwidth, large conglomerates who simultaneoulsy provide ISP services and having holding threatened by P2P sharing are trying to undermine the culture that has sprung up around file sharing.
It's another case of attacking jello with a knife. From Tom Paine:
The Internet’s promise as a new medium -- where text, audio, video and data can be freely exchanged -- is under attack by the corporations that control the public’s access to the 'Net, as they see opportunities to monitor and charge for the content people seek and send. The industry’s vision is the online equivalent of seizing the taxpayer-owned airways, as radio and television conglomerates did over the course of the 20th century.
To achieve this, the cable industry, which sells Internet access to most Americans, is pursuing multiple strategies to closely monitor and tightly control subscribers and their use of the net. One element can be seen in industry lobbying for new use-based pricing schemes, which has been widely reported in trade press. Related to this is the industry’s new public relations campaign, which seeks to introduce a new "menace" into the pricing debate and boost their case, the so-called "bandwidth hog."
How long do you think it will take for enterprising ISPs to consider that "service" might be a worthwhile value proposition?
Markets want to be free, as does enterprise. Trying to choke wirearchies simply creates opportunities for those would push the structures far in the other direction.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
I can't link to this piece - sorry. I'll try tomorrow - the articles are sometimes posted on-line the next day.
I noticed an article in Canada's National Post newspaper today, titled:
"Al-Qaeda as business case study - Fluid "Internet-based approach" a strategic advantage"
The article goes on to state:
"the conflict...is a compelling test case for a clash of business models.
More specifically, he sees it as a long, costly battle between the pyramidic structure of the U.S, military adn the flat international structure of al-Qaeda."
Monday, November 18, 2002
More from Howard Rheingold, in cahoots with Lisa Kimball of Group Jazz
How Online Social Neworks Benefit Organizations
Howard Rheingold's new book sounds like its about the emerging manifestations of wirearchy. From the book summary, at www.smartmobs.com
The pieces of the puzzle are all around us now, but haven't joined together yet. The radio chips designed to replace barcodes on manufactured objects are part of it. Wireless Internet nodes in cafes, hotels, and neighborhoods are part of it. Millions of people who lend their computers to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are part of it. The way buyers and sellers rate each other on Internet auction site eBay is part of it. Research by biologists, sociologists, and economists into the nature of cooperation offer explanatory frameworks. At least one key global business question is part of it - why is the Japanese company DoCoMo profiting from enhanced wireless Internet services while US and European mobile telephony operators struggle to avoid failure?
The people who make up smart mobs cooperate in ways never before possible because they carry devices that possess both communication and computing capabilities. Their mobile devices connect them with other information devices in the environment as well as with other people's telephones. Dirt-cheap microprocessors embedded in everything from box tops to shoes are beginning to permeate furniture, buildings, neighborhoods, products with invisible intercommunicating smartifacts. When they connect the tangible objects and places of our daily lives with the Internet, handheld communication media mutate into wearable remote control devices for the physical world.
Media cartels and government agencies are seeking to reimpose the regime of the broadcast era in which the customers of technology will be deprived of the power to create and left only with the power to consume. That power struggle is what the battles over file-sharing, copy-protection, regulation of the radio spectrum are about. Are the populations of tomorrow going to be users, like the PC owners and website creators who turned technology to widespread innovation? Or will they be consumers, constrained from innovation and locked into the technology and business models of the most powerful entrenched interests?
Friday, November 15, 2002
Here it comes again...eLearning, that is. I believe the stage is being set for the birth of the "mass customization" of learning.
The second wave of eLearning
Thursday, November 14, 2002
I wonder if this new tool from Macromedia
will hasten the evolution of wirearchy ?
From JOHO, the blog - full piece here
The Latin motto over Poindexter"s new Pentagon office reads "Scientia Est Potentia" — "knowledge is power." Exactly: the government's infinite knowledge about you is its power over you. "We're just as concerned as the next person with protecting privacy," this brilliant mind blandly assured The Post. A jury found he spoke falsely before.
Thank goodness for blogging, I say.
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Found this piece by Tom Matrullo
- supporting an interview he gave a couple of years ago.
Makes me wonder what will happen when the fullness of P2P (such as Groove) hits the workforce (if it does) and how organizations will then exercise control ? From the article: Napster is ingenuity powered by enthusiasm and generosity of spirit
. Isn't that what we all want work to be, and what healthy organizations would dearly love to encourage ?
Tom Matrullo on Napster
Mozart once heard a piece of music so piercingly beautiful that he was moved to write it down from memory after hearing it performed in a church. He had no choice. The church believed it "owned" the music, and forbade anyone to copy it. So, Mozart pulled a Napster. The piece has been in the public domain ever since, for all to enjoy.
Napster -- a simple tool, crafted with no unnecessary arabesques of code -- is organic software: Dionysus who knows no boundaries. Such a natural tool seems obvious in hindsight, like an evolutionary "Eureka!" -- the moment when life figured out the heart.
Why wasn't Napster obvious before it stared us in the face?
Open Napster and you're looking out over dizzying vistas of other people's music (OPM) on Other People's Hard Drives (OPHDs). It's like suddenly gaining several thousand generous, musically literate friends. You have highly compressed conversations sharing intimate knowledge of the music you love, without ums, uhs and other inessential articulations.
In a commercial culture, this tool was nearly unable to be thought. But here it is, offering me Sara Brightman in full-throated ease, thanks to some angel named SWAT18.
Napster has been called the third quantum jump in software, after VisiCalc and Mosaic. Not because of any technical complexity. Its designer, Shawn Fanning, bought a book to figure out how to write the program. The coding wasn't hard to do. The concept was hard to think.
If the Cluetrain Manifesto turns notions of markets upside down, Napster turns the trucking template inside out. Napster enables the nonce deployment of love via self-organizing labyrinths that defy central distribution models. Like the Manifesto's position that "Markets are conversations," Napster gives us a place for people's music to be held in common, not consumed.
Music has always had underground modes of dissemination. Remember how every working musician had their cheap xeroxed "fake books"? Napster was difficult to conceive because we forgot sharing. Central distribution of intellectual property (IntelProp) via channels, trucks, ships, presses, wires and microwaves -- "trucking" for short -- was all we could remember. In that system, music is not what gladdens our souls. It is mediated Product inserted into dead bodies, shipped and sold for good hard cash.
We used to need the corpses -- CDs, vinyl, tape, etc. We, the sorryassed multitudes who couldn't get to the Met, to La Scala, or to Ozzfest, to bask in the unmediated presence of the Voice, the Artist. IntelProp vampires fed on our failure to arrive at the live act. Trucking is the wounding prosthetic that grows inside our disability to be present, as advertising infects us with discontent on which it dines.
And this spawned Content. Corporate distributors only see numbers, units, penetration, market share. To understand Content, you must ignore it. Pay attention only to containers.
If you imagine there is something called Content, you won't like Napster.
Courtney Love nailed it: "What the hell is content? Nobody buys content. Real people pay money for music because it means something to them. Being a 'content provider' is prostitution work that devalues our art and doesn't satisfy our spirits. Artistic expression has to be provocative. The problem with artists and the Internet: Once their art is reduced to content, they may never have the opportunity to retrieve their souls."
Napster doesn't distribute Content. Instead, it offers a voyeuristic look into OPM on OPHDs- a glimpse into the intimate specificity of other people's loves. More than a look -- we have permission to "take" what we like, secure in the knowledge we are welcome to it. A regular Dionysian orgy of passions.
Other people's loves: Downloaded music is like the commonplace books of old, in which people would preserve snippets from books that held special meaning for them. Napster feels more personal than "personalized" sites. Without leering, it offers constellations of love affairs people have had with music- each one different, each reflecting a soul.
Napster is ingenuity powered by enthusiasm and generosity of spirit. It is the negative image of those porn sites that promise you'll be nuzzling 417,000 nubile young women within 30 seconds of handing over your credit card.
Interestingly, it is also the negative image of the piratical record company model described in detail by Love -- how did porn sites and record companies get into the same slimy category? Hmmmm.
Sons of Napster will add features to its basic model -- links to all kinds of info about music one is downloading, about the artists, where they're appearing, etc. And a means of stopping a download and restarting without having to start over. Or, a way of finding out if the only guy with the song you've needed for years is going to log off in the middle of your download. So what? Napster gives so much that any quibble is downright mean-spirited.
We can already hear the coming fuss, when bandwidth and grandsons of Napster permit us to exchange our passions for videos, films and other IntelProp.
Some good things will never be transferred this way. Like cuttings from flowering plants. Too bad, because I'm sure gardeners love to share their cuttings exactly as music lovers enjoy sharing their cuts.
The analogy isn't all that lousy, really. The gardener buys seeds, or borrows a cutting, and grows a plant -- the plant makes possible its own replication, but only in real life, not virtually. The point is, the gardener who owns something he/she wants to share will always make a cutting. The cutting gives away part of the whole to create a new whole.
With Napster, we are made more whole: Music sings without trucks, dances without dead limbs.
The act of downloading a song is labor, sort of. A broadband declension of the medieval passion of monks for manuscripts. When I play a song I've downloaded, I experience every note more intimately for having had a hand in its replication.
Napster brings closer a paradisiacal economy -- a realm of abundance where trucking (and advertising) is hard to imagine. Where Mozart doesn't have to kidnap music. That is why it is embattled.
When musicians work, they need to be compensated. They can either become one with the vampires, or look to salaries or tips -- patrons or fans. That way requires faith, if songs are to be free.
Ooops ! Full(er) story here
Grubman: Forget that e-mail
Former analyst says his 1999 claim that Weill used him in power play was invented to impress friend.
Grubman said Wednesday he lied in the e-mail.
"Regrettably, I invented a story in an effort to inflate my professional importance and make an
impression on a colleague and friend," said the statement from Grubman, who left Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney unit under pressure in August. "My research on AT&T was always done on the merits."
The e-mail, which Grubman sent to an analyst at a money-management firm in 2001, was uncovered by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who is investigating whether analysts were pressured to write upbeat research to win investment banking deals for their firms.
Shares of Citigroup fell $1.17, or 3 percent, to $35.22 Wednesday. The stock is down 31 percent this year as probes by federal and state regulators question the credibility of investment banking and expose the industry to costly lawsuits.
A bit complicated for me - I'm going to have to go back and read it more slowly, more carefully.
I think the inference I can make here - pro-business is hierarchy, pro-marketplace is wirearchy (simplistic, I know, but anyhoo...)
From Bob Frankston, on Connectivity: What It Is and Why It Is So Important
The test of whether an industry is propelled by Moore's law is whether, when I ask for more, I get more. In the current broadcast model, for example, a cable TV provider uses a gigabit pipe to send the same programs to all homes. Getting a second interface (set-top box) in my home doesn't increase choice or capacity. If that same wire were treated as 10 megabits per interface (assuming 100 homes per segment), then buying a second interface would double the capacity to that home. The ability to buy more capacity at commodity prices represents a dramatic change.
We need to remember that there is a big difference between being pro-business and being pro-marketplace. Capitalism is all about marketplaces. Capitalism fails if we try to preserve a given business model. In telecommunications if we simply preserve a business then we have failed.
By recognizing the need to separate connectivity from applications we have the opportunity to unleash the power of the marketplace that has served so very well in computing and in the Internet.
Does Internet Create Democracy?
A thesis by Alinta Thornton
There is intense interest in the Internet's potential to contribute to various sociological phenomena, primarily from American Internet enthusiasts. Foremost among these ideas is that the Internet will contribute to, or even be primarily responsible for, a new era of participatory democracy and a revitalisation of the public sphere.
A leading exponent of this notion is Howard Rheingold, an influential member of an early Internet community called "The Well", whose book Virtual Communities was published in 1993.
Rheingold's main argument is that "virtual communities could help citizens revitalise democracy, or they could be luring us into an attractively packaged substitute for democratic discourse" (Rheingold, 1993: 276).
Rheingold and others have promoted the Utopian vision of the electronic agora, an "Athens without slaves". He believes that the technology, "if properly understood and defended by enough citizens, does have democratising potential in the way that alphabets and printing presses had democratising potential" (Rheingold, 1993: 279)....
In this paper, I will explore whether Internet can lead to an increase in participatory democracy and a revitalised public sphere.
And her conclusion?
In my view, the explosion of direct participatory democracy Rheingold hoped for is highly unlikely to eventuate merely as a result of the Internet's existence.
The Internet provides opportunities for limited revitalisation of the public sphere. These are for the most part restricted to relatively privileged groups.
At least it is an increase in the activities of the public sphere, however modest.
As Internet use expands more profoundly into middle-income groups, lower-income groups and non-English speakers, it may yet present a real opportunity for greater participation, democratic communication and a true revitalisation of the public sphere.
However, this may only occur if current power structures such as governments and large corporations are willing to incorporate this process into their standard practices. Given the history of such things, this seems fairly unlikely, however exciting the possibility might seem.
The most promising aspects of the Internet as a site for a revitalised public sphere are:
„X the ability of small interest groups to find and communicate with each other
„X the ability for individuals and smaller groups with fewer resources to present their points of view to a large number of people
„X the easy availability of a much greater range of points of view
„X the longevity of materials on the Internet, from journalistic, academic and private sources, that would otherwise have a short life in print publication or other media. They provide a valuable information resource, since access to these offline would require considerable effort and skill
„X the interactivity that is possible between web sites and their audiences, enabling more two-way communication than has been possible previously, and
„X the formation of online communities.
These do not hold out the promise of a revolutionary change to participatory democracy or a new Athenian age, but they do present an opportunity for more voices to be heard in the public sphere in a new way.
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Yesterday there was a piece in the paper about two men who died after falling into a vat of wine, in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. True Story.
The first was the vintner who owned the vineyard - he was checking on a batch before going on vacation. Then, his winemaster tried to save him, and fell in. The vintner's wife then tried to drain the vat.
Evidently it was the lack of oxygen that did them in. Oh...the fragility of life - you never know.
Instant Messaging Goes Corporate
Wonder whether this will hasten awareness of wirearchy ?
Following on Noam Chomsky - Lou Gerstner, recently departed from IBM. From an excerpt of his recent book "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?"
Corporate Culture is the Name of the Game - Lou Gerstner on Invitation
Changing the attitude of hundreds of thousands of people is very, very hard to accomplish. Business schools don't teach you how to do it. You can't lead the revolution from the splendid isolation of corporate headquarters. You can't simply give a couple of speeches or write a new credo for the company and declare that the new culture has taken hold. You can't mandate it, can't engineer it.
What you can do is create the conditions for transformation. You can provide incentives. You can define the marketplace realities and goals. But then you have to trust. In fact, in the end, management doesn't change culture. Management invites the work force itself to change the culture.
Perhaps the toughest nut to crack was getting IBM employees to accept that invitation. Many used hierarchy as a crutch and were reluctant to take personal responsibility for outcomes.
Instead of grabbing available resources and authority, they waited for the boss to tell them what to do; they delegated up.
At the same time, I was working to get employees to listen to me, to understand where we needed to go, to follow me there. I needed to get them to stop being followers. This wasn't a logical, linear challenge. It was counterintuitive, centred around social cues and emotion rather than reason.
Passion, bounded by Responsibility ? Sound like Open Space
Monday, November 11, 2002
A nifty little reminder from Noam Chomsky - from www.disinformation.com
By definition there is no form of government we can completely trust - this should be second nature. We ought to challenge authority to justify itself. If it can, then that's OK. If it can't, we should dismantle it. Only trust yourself."
I want to contrast the point of information below (a clear example, IMO, of "top-down" control) with the following tidbit from Weiner, Edrich, Brown Inc. (WEB) of New York, strategic consulting futurists.
Technology and Populism (March, 1997)
Neopopulism, a 20th Century version of a 19th Century political agrarian movement, is a protest movement opposed to both big government and big business. It is generated by a decline in the middle class, income disparity, rising college costs, perceptions of corporate greed and fear of change. The Web, with its potential to be a democratizing tool and emphasis on bottom up rule making, is likely to provide additional catalysis for neopopulism. Manifestations of this movement are seen in the pervasive suspicion of government and business in Generation X, the rise of mass religious movements, the possible revival of unions, and increasing attention to corporate governance.
Institutions will have to answer to peoples' feelings that some in society benefit too much from the victimization of others. It is likely that upper class and corporate entitlements will be increasingly under attack, including deductions for philanthropy and lobbying. The populist mindset may encourage the sentiment that stealing from an organization is not the same as stealing from an individual. Sabotage, in light of the vulnerability created by dependence on technology, could also become more of a problem.
Watching it all unfold. I wonder when it will become too strange to ignore. The article is here
Behind the Smile
By BOB HERBERT
One of the definitions of slick is "deftly executed; adroit." Synonyms include "sly, shrewd, slippery, wily." These words came to mind as I watched the Republican Party's remarkable off-year election triumph last week. Give credit where it's due. Bill Clinton at his most devious was never as sly or as cunning (or as politically effective) as the Republican Party has become.
I think of the G.O.P. as the costume party. It wears a sunny mask, which conceals a reality that is far more ideological, far more extreme, than most Americans realize.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
I learned something new today - about recruiting on the Net. But from the date of the article (September 2000), I guess it's "old hat" by now.
Learning how to maneuver through the vast amounts of data that exist on the Web can be daunting. Is it worth the time and effort? Sandra Morris, 25, a research consultant for Unifi Network, formerly a division of PricewaterhouseCoopers, impressed the class with her answer to that question: PWHC now finds 90% of its hires through the Internet, uses outside agencies only about 15% of the time, and has reduced its cost-per-hire from $23,000 to $280. "We were paying exorbitant fees to outside agencies who would then just use these techniques," says Morris. "We realized that there was no reason we couldn't learn this for ourselves and bring it in-house. Everything is on the Internet. You just have to know how to find it."
Sidebar: Search and Enjoy
Looking for great talent? Don't hire a headhunter. Instead, let your fingers do the walking. Below are two techniques that Bill Craib teaches talent scouts to help them find what they're looking for on the Web. ( Each search engine uses different commands. These are for AltaVista's advanced-search function. )
Shows you what's really inside a source company by helping you see through walled-off areas of Web sites. Companies link you only to the pages that they want you to see. But search engines index all of the pages on a server, and X-raying can bring you to pages that don't have public links.
The command: Host:xyzcompany and keywords. For instance: host:cisco.com AND business development
The result: 77 Web pages, including promotion announcements, executive news, and an article about Mike Volpi, Cisco's chief strategy officer
The Web is really nothing but a series of links between related home pages. Flipping allows you to target a specific destination and can lead you to nonpublic Web pages, such as employee directories and alumni lists.
The command: Link:xyzcompany and keywords. Looking for a candidate who graduated from Harvard Business School and has experience at Deloitte? Link:hbs.edu AND Deloitte
The result: 141 Web pages, including home pages, biographies, alumni email addresses, and Web addresses
Probably important to the evolution of wirearchies, and probably beyond my understanding at this point (tho' I haven't spent the time to read it attentively).
Group Forming Networks
Two key points from a brief read:
One third of a century ago in an article entitled "The Computer as a Communication Medium," J.C.R. Licklider and Bob Taylor wrote
"What will on-line interactive communities be like? … they will consist of geographically separated members … communities not of common location, but of common interest. … The whole will constitute a labile network of networks-ever changing in both content and configuration. … the impact … will be very great-both on the individual and on society. … First, … because the people with whom one interacts will be selected more by commonality … than by accidents of proximity"
What's exciting to me about this scaling law for group-forming networks, which friends and colleagues have been kind enough to call Reed's Law, is the way it links my long-standing intuitions about the importance and value of group behavior in networks to relatively hard-nosed economic models. To someone who understands the structure of such models, the recipe for designing networks that maximize value for readers, customers, etc. becomes crystal clear. I've discussed some of the implications elsewhere.
Networked communities that support group-forming are growing in scale and reach, and network architectures that enhance group-forming processes are still being invented. Anyone who is serious about the 'net must learn to "get" the power of group-forming communities that Licklider and Taylor inspired.
Pulled this off an in-the-past post at The Obvious ?,
as it made me think about how the fundamental assumptions of work and life in the Industrial Age will have (IMO) contributed in significant ways to our difficulties in grasping "the onness of it all".
It struck me that these are all one and the same argument. Our divisions into something less than the whole causes us so many problems - them/us; have/have not; rich/poor; white/black etc etc. and yet we don't need to see things that way. Sure there are nuances in the nature of reality which the world would be dull without and which we create for ourselves just to keep us on our toes, but it is possible - as I am just truly beginning to realise - to see everything as one.
The social constructs and language we have used since the advent of factories, division-of-labour, time and motion studies, Taylorism, and all that have really helped us to let our notions of being - in community and of the human race - come unstuck. Maybe the Web is helping us glue ourselves back together, a la Small Pieces, Loosely Joined
I've been re-reading a monster document titled Introducing Internet 3.0, by two Bear Sterns Internet Infrastructure analysts, Chris Kwak and Robert Fagin. It was written in June 2001, and we're starting to see (I think) some of their conclusions beginning to appear. Some excerpts below (I think you probably have to buy the report - a summary is here
"We believe that in five years, every company will either embrace distribution and decentralization, or face significant disadvantages"...
"A fundamental wave of change is making its way through computing, networking, and communications, and we believe that distribution and decentralization, with XML as its foundation, are at the core of a transformation toward universal connectivity."...
"Some who have prevailed in Internet 2.0 - the Web era - may see their roles minimized in the coming years. The companies who have thrived during Internet 2.0 by riding the centralization wave and who have built business models solely on that trend will have to adapt or risk being obliterated by nimbler parties.....they will need to recognize the importance of weaving geographically distributed assets."...
"Internet 3.0 is not a business model or a fancy technological gimmick. It is a way of networking, organizing data and collaborating. Understanding the explicit and implicit advantages of a distributed and decentralized system leads to an overwhelming conclusion: There are too many efficiencies in distributed and decentralized sytems to ignore."
Human hyperlinks next ? Again, from the NY Times.
Voices in Your Head? Check That Chip in Your Arm
Cellphones, electronic organizers and portable DVD players would be so much less cumbersome if they were surgically implanted under your skin. Science fiction? Not any more
Should we be surprised ? The NY Times article is here
When Options Rise to Top, Guess Who Pays
As the International Accounting Standards Board moves to make corporate accounting for stock options reflect reality, it may be the rank-and-file workers who bear the cost.
"The assumption that the system is better for everybody by giving most of the pie to the top of the hierarchy is an assumption that is widely accepted by lawyers, accountants, Wall Street investment bankers and even by many academics," Mr. Blasi said. "But when you compare companies against each other, the more you increase the option grant to the top five executives above the mean, the worse your shareholder return gets."
A tidbit of tangible evidence that wirearchy actually is at work.
From Virtual Teams - Creating a Global Explosion of Productivity and Profits
, by Susan Schwartz at HR.com
Here's an excerpt:
Almost every business journal includes at least one article referencing “global” or “virtual” teams. This can mean a core group of managers directing remote operations from a centralized location, or geographically-dispersed work teams operating within a decentralized management structure. Despite the fact that these management styles are often discussed collectively, they are actually very different.
I have personally worked in both of these environments, as well as local teams in which all members were literally “under the same roof.” Despite the common belief that successful projects require face-to-face interaction, my most productive and cohesive teams were those that were decentralized across countries and time zones. In contrast, members of centralized teams seemed to spend most of their energies “pushing back” on the top-down edicts; valuable time and intellectual resources were wasted hindering – rather than achieving – project success.
Given my positive experiences with decentralized, virtual teams, I can’t help but question why:
So many corporate leaders are uncomfortable unless they are working in close proximity to their team members.
Project managers are afraid to reach beyond time zones and cultures to create fully global programs.
The phrase virtual team conjures up images of disjointed, disparate workgroups for so many people today, when – back in medieval times – virtual actually meant “powerful.”
The rest of the article here
This is very cool. Welcome to the Intersection of Business, Culture and Consciousness
is an offering setting out the very early signals about how we might be able to adapt to an increasingly turbulent environment.
It's my sense that our interconnectedness is both driving this, and creating the conditions that unsettle and frighten many people. An era of transition - from rigid hierarchies that separate and divide, to fluid, flexible and responsive wirearchies ?
Friday, November 08, 2002
The demand for new tools
David Gelernter writes in the NY Times about the kinds of desktops demanded by wirearchy:
operating systems are lapsing into senile irrelevance. An operating system connects the user (and the user's software) to the ensemble of machines we call a computer. But nowadays users no longer want to be connected to computers. They want to be connected to information, a claim that sounds vague but is clear and specific.
Every piece of digital information you own or share will appear (in the near future) in one universal structure. (Just ask Bill Gates: as he said cogently last July, "Why are my document files stored one way, my contacts another way and my e-mail and instant-messaging buddy list still another, and why aren't they related to my calendar or to one another, and easy to search en masse?") A universal structure demands universal access: you'll be able to tune in this structure from any Net-connected computer anywhere.
I have time for only one screen in my life. That screen had better give me access to everything, everywhere.
What is this universal information structure? A narrative stream, which says, "Let me tell you a story. " The system shows you a 3-D stream of electronic documents flowing through time. The future (where you store your calendar, reminders, plans) flows into the present (where you keep material you're working on right now) and on into the past (where every e-mail message and draft, digital photo, application, virtual Rolodex card, video and audio clip and Web bookmark is stored, in addition to all those calendar notes and reminders that used to be part of the future and have since flowed into the past to be archived forever).
And so the organization of your digital information reflects the shape of your life, not the shape of a 1940's Steelcase file cabinet. Storage space and computing power are dirt cheap; our task isn't to "use them efficiently," it's to "squander them creatively." Instead of searching through your stream for some document, you focus it (as if you were focusing an information beam - which is like a flashlight beam cutting through the digital fog, except that the beam is made of information instead of light). You wind up with a selection of documents, a "substream" that tells some particular story. Your narrative stream as a whole consists of all the interwoven stories that make up your life - your own personal ones as well as the stories of all the groups and communities you belong to.
This kind of information management is simpler, more powerful and more natural than the Steelcase-inspired software we've got today - the files, the folders, the desktops and all those other high-tech office accessories straight out of 1946.
More on Gelerntner at Sohodojo
Anne Galloway's blog looks very interesting - haven't digested it all, lots there to chew on re: virtual space
From Paul Krugman, writing in today's NY Times about the election results. Can't link to it easily, not sure why.
What hasn't changed is the fundamental wrongness of this administration's direction. Too many pundits, confusing politics with policy — or engaging in sheer power worship — imagine that a party that wins a battle must be doing something right. But it ain't necessarily so. Political victory doesn't make a bad policy good; it doesn't make a lie the truth.
But what do we do about it?
Some of my friends are in despair. They fear that by the time the political pendulum swings, the damage will be irreparable. A ballooning federal debt, they say, will have made it impossible to deal with the needs of an aging population. Years of unchecked crony capitalism will have destroyed faith in our financial markets. Unilateralist foreign policy will have left us without real allies. And most important of all, environmental neglect will have gone past the point of no return.
They may be right. But we have to behave as if they aren't, and try to turn American politics around.
It won't be easy. There are essentially no moderates left in the Republican Party, so change will have to come from the Democrats. And they are deep in a hole.
It's not just Sept. 11. As Jonathan Chait points out in The New Republic, the Republicans also have a huge structural advantage. They can spend far more money getting their message out; when it comes to free publicity, some of the major broadcast media are simply biased in favor of the Republicans, while the rest tend to blur differences between the parties.
A few (more) thoughts on "managing" knowledge.
I often wonder about the word management. I've spoken about it a few times in presentations, mentioning that the word management comes from the Latin "manere", which essentially means "to shackle".
When we usually speak about KM, my guess is we mean building and using knowledge to create, to innovate, or to progress something. In a business context...aren't we all searching for meaning and purpose for our work? Isn't the purpose of businesses to be in service to some human need, not just to make money and increase shareholder value? I'm not sure "shackling" is the best dynamic for addressing and accomplishing those objectives.
Building knowledge comes from combining thoughts, ideas, information and energy - connecting the dots, so to speak. Using knowledge then, I think, means dancing with those dots - treating them as a dancing partner with whom we have an intangible connection, being in flow and rythym, stepping through known patterns with the inspiration that feeds artistry, to create ...a tango, a foxtrot, a mosh pit. Dancing...singing, painting, playing music...giving expression to the human soul. Why can't our modern work be another form of giving expression to our humanity, our souls?
The artistry is applied to the context and situation, the knowledge creates something that is useful in addressing a need. I think creating knowledge happens in collaboration, and collaboration is something that, to date, our (still relatively rigid) hierarchies have tended to inhibit rather than encourage and enable. Collaboration happens between equals, and more and more people are realizing that we are rarely equals when working in hierarchical structures. Managers, in hiearchies, are often still charged with a fundamental responsibility to "shackle". In wirearchies, champions find other equals with whom to channel and connect ideas, thoughts, information and energy - we find partners, to collaborate and create.
Rather than Knowledge Management, why not Knowledge Partnering and Knowledge Creation and ...
Dee Hock has lots to say
about management tools for wirearchy:
On Chaordic Leadership
Many convictions about leadership have served me well over the years. Although each of these few examples could benefit from pages of explication, a few words may provide insight to chaordic leadership.
Power: True power is never used. If you use power, you never really had it.
Human Relations: First, last, and only principle -- when dealing with subordinates, repeat silently to yourself, "You are as great to you as I am to me, therefore, we are equal." When dealing with superiors, repeat silently to yourself, "I am as great to me as you are to you, therefore we are equal."
Criticism: Active critics are a great asset. Without the slightest expenditure of time or effort, we have our weakness and error made apparent and alternatives proposed. We need only listen carefully, dismiss that which arises from ignorance, ignore that which arises from envy or malice, and embrace that which has merit.
Compensation: Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. It can rent the body and influence the mind but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and ethics.
Ego, Envy, Avarice, and Ambition: Four beasts that inevitably devour their keeper. Harbor them at your peril, for although you expect to ride on their back, you will end up in their belly.
Position: Subordinates may owe a measure of obedience by virtue of your position, but they owe no respect save that which you earn by your daily conduct. Without their respect, your authority is destructive.
Mistakes: Toothless little things, providing you can recognize them, admit them, correct them, learn from them, and rise above them. If not, they grow fangs and strike.
Accomplishment: Never confuse activity with productivity. It is not what goes in your end of the pipe that matters, but what comes out the other end. Everything but intense thought, judgment, and action is infected to some degree with meaningless activity. Think! Judge! Act! Free others to do the same!
Hiring: Never hire or promote in your own image. It is foolish to replicate your strength. It is stupid to replicate your weakness. Employ, trust, and reward those whose perspective, ability and judgment are radically different from your own and recognize that it requires uncommon humility, tolerance, and wisdom.
Creativity: The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.
Listening: While you can learn much by listening carefully to what people say, a great deal more is revealed by what they do not say. Listen as carefully to silence as to sound.
Judgment: Judgment is a muscle of the mind developed by use. You lose nothing by trusting it. If you trust it and it is bad, you will know quickly and can improve it. If you trust it and it is consistently good, you will succeed, and the sooner the better. If it is consistently good and you don't trust it, you will become the saddest of all creatures; one who could have succeeded but followed the poor judgment of others to failure.
Leadership: Lead yourself, lead your superiors, lead your peers and free your people to do the same. All else is trivia.
It seems so common-sensical, when it's put this way.
Twelve Things To Do Now About Corporations
More from Seb - he's wading through some interesting material:
On an important aspect of the Digital Divide:
The Rockefeller Foundation has launched a three-year initiative to support the emergence of IP policies fairer to poor people and developing countries. [FOS News]
On managers, and one of the regular tasks in hierarchies
How To Pick Eagles.
All available research indicates that the ability of a manager to predict how a future employee will perform, based upon a one hour interview, is very low. [read more
] [Tony Bowden: Understanding Nothing]
Thought For The Day
. "Reality is nothing but a collective hunch."
Love this ! You've got to wonder sometimes.
From Seb's Open Research:
In today's Chronicle of Higher Education Scott Carlson reports on a PR campaign by scholarly publishers designed "in part, to quash a newfound enthusiasm among some librarians for self-publishing research results online, a practice that lets scholars bypass slow, costly academic journals."
According to Marc Brodsky, CEO of the American Institute of Physics, the campaign will focus on the advantages of publishing in traditional priced journals: "money for marketing, the prestige of a well-known journal, the expertise and mediation of an editor, and the management of peer review." (PS: As if open-access journals are not peer-reviewed, lack editors, need marketing, or cannot be prestigious. Is this the best argument priced journals have? Stay tuned for details on the campaign itself and other signs that the FOS movement is succeeding.) [FOS News]
Many scientists are still unaware that they would benefit from distributing their papers for free and of how easy it has become. Since the main problem in moving towards Free Online Scholarship is raising scientists' awareness of that possibility, the commercial publishers are in all likeliness helping speed up the transition with campaigns such as this. Way to go!
Thursday, November 07, 2002
Another take, similar to Sean Penn's, on the difficult-to-watch unfolding of neo-fascism
in the Untied States of America.
From Douglas Rushkoff - I have only read his book Playing the Future, three or four years ago. I did enjoy it - another in a long line of provocations that have rendered me unfit for "normal" human employment and consumptive behavior.
Thomas Madsen-Mygdal's mini-rant (and open question)
on the generation that will usher in wirearchy
Another "archy" word
- arguably as ambitious as wirearchy
Collaboration - I wonder if it will take another ten years before it starts to cook?
Here's a perspective on why it's been so slow out of the gate.
Watching a retrospective on CBC TV tonight about Claude Jutra, the great Quebecois filmmaker (cineaste, en francais). In the early '60's he made a film titled "Niger" - the brief scenes they showed on TV stimulated a thought about the structures of power in tribal cultures in Africa - I quickly set that against the organizational-chart wonderland of our modern companies, which set in motion a thread of thinking about reporting relationships and politics in the organizations of today.
My sense is that communications in a tribe, or between tribes, is clear and efficient, and based on fundamental values.
In today's modern corporate world, I guess it's not surprising that there's so much dissonance and turmoil, layoffs and unhappiness, need for coaching, billions spent on leadership development. Often we've continued to work with the basic mindsets about power engendered by the outmoded structural assumptions and models of the Industrial Age - models that required levels of approval, and thus created approval-seeking behavior.
Ever heard of "managing upward"? Ever wondered why Dilbert
made Scott Adams a gazillionaire (an aside - he's so consistent - the new theme these days is The Way of The Weasel
- what a chuckle) ?
Ever wondered why so many organizations seem to suffer "group-think" about how to organize? Ever heard of Ricardo Semler
, in Brazil, and learned of the dynamism and flexibility of the companies he operates?
By way of Danielle Laporte
- I found this inspiring:
This appeared in yesterday's Washington Post. Sean Penn paid $56,000
to have this appear. It took almost an entire page.
An Open Letter to the President of the United States of America
Good morning sir. Like you, I am a father and an American. Like you,
I consider myself a patriot. Like you, I was horrified by the events
of this past year, concerned for my family and my country. However,
I do not believe in a simplistic and inflammatory view of good and evil.
I believe this is a big world full of men, women, and children who
struggle to eat, to love, to work, to protect their families, their
beliefs, and their dreams. My father, like yours, was decorated for
service in World War II. He raised me with a deep belief in the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as they should apply to all
Americans who would sacrifice to maintain them and to all human beings
as a matter of principle.
Many of your actions to date and those proposed seem to violate
every defining principle of this country over which you preside:
intolerance of debate ("with us or against us"), marginalization of
your critics, the promoting of fear through unsubstantiated rhetoric,
manipulation of a quick comfort media, and position of your
administration's deconstruction of civil liberties all contradict the
very core of the patriotism you claim. You lead, it seems, through a
blood-lined sense of entitlement. Take a close look at your most
vehement media supporters. See the fear in their eyes as their loud
voices of support ring out with that historically disastrous
undercurrent of rage and panic masked as "straight tough talk."
How far have we come from understanding what it is to kill one man,
one woman, or one child, much less the "collateral damage" of many
hundreds of thousands. Your use of the words, "this is a new kind of
war" is often accompanied by an odd smile. It concerns me that what
you are asking of us is to abandon all previous lessons of history in
favor of following you blindly into the future. It worries me because
with all your best intentions, an enormous economic surplus has been
squandered. Your administration has virtually dismissed the most
fundamental environmental concerns and therefore, by implication, one
gets the message that, as you seem to be willing to sacrifice the
children of the world, would you also be willing to sacrifice ours.
I know this cannot be your aim so, I beg you Mr. President, listen to
Gershwin, read chapters of Stegner, of Saroyan, the speeches of Martin
Luther King. Remind yourself of America. Remember the Iraqi children,
our children, and your own.
There can be no justification for the actions of Al Qaeda. Nor
acceptance of the criminal viciousness of the tyrant, Saddam Hussein.
Yet, that bombing is answered by bombing, mutilation by mutilation,
killing by killing, is a pattern that only a great country like ours
can stop. However, principles cannot be recklessly or greedily
abandoned in the guise of preserving them.
Avoiding war while accomplishing national security is no simple task.
But you will recall that we Americans had a little missile problem down
in Cuba once. Mr. Kennedy's restraint (and that of the nuclear submarine
captain, Arkhipov) is to be aspired to. Weapons of mass destruction are
clearly a threat to the entire world in any hands. But as Americans, we
must ask ourselves, since the potential for Mr. Hussein to possess them
threatens not only our country, (and in fact, his technology to launch is
likely not yet at that high a level of sophistication) therefore, many in
his own region would have the greatest cause for concern. Why then, is
the United States, as led by your administration, in the small minority
of the world nations predisposed toward a preemptive military assault on
Simply put, sir, let us re-introduce inspection teams, inhibiting
offensive capability. We buy time, maintain our principles here and
abroad and demand of ourselves the ingenuity to be the strongest
diplomatic muscle on the planet, perhaps in the history of the planet.
The answers will come. You are a man of faith, but your saber is
rattling the faith of many Americans in you.
I do understand what a tremendously daunting task it must be to stand
in your shoes at this moment. As a father of two young children who
will live their lives in the world as it will be affected by
critical choices today, I have no choice but to believe that you can
ultimately stand as a great president. History has offered you such a
destiny. So again, sir, I beg you, help save America before yours is
a legacy of shame and horror. Don't destroy our children's future.
We will support you. You must support us, your fellow Americans, and
Defend us from fundamentalism abroad but don't turn a blind eye to
the fundamentalism of a diminished citizenry through loss of civil
liberties, of dangerously heightened presidential autonomy through
acts of Congress, and of this country's mistaken and pervasive belief
that its "manifest destiny" is to police the world. We know that
Americans are frightened and angry. However, sacrificing American
soldiers or innocent civilians in an unprecedented preemptive attack
on a separate sovereign nation, may well prove itself a most temporary
medicine. On the other hand, should you mine and have faith in the
best of this country to support your leadership in representing a
strong, thoughtful, and educated United States, you may well triumph
for the long haul. Lead us there, Mr. President, and we will stand
San Francisco, California
More from Shirky:
More than once, new technologies have held out the promise of wider participation by citizens, only to be corralled by a new set of legal or economic realities, and the net, which threatens many vested interests all at once, will be no exception.
Nevertheless, despite a 'two steps forward, one step back' progression, we are living through a potentially enormous shift in the amount of leverage the many have over the few. It is my aim to chronicle these changes as they happen, and to provide a framework, built from observation, which aids both interpretation and prediction.
It's my belief that notwithstanding "coralled by a new set of legal or economic realities", there remains the potent combination of the integrated technological infrastructure of software and ubiquitous interconnectivity. IMO, This combination will continue to change the behaviors of people, and the shapes and dynamics of economic and cultural ecosystems.
We can look to the writings of many who predict the more frequent appearance of "swarming" behaviours found in biological systems, or the self-organizing tendencies found in networks and ecosystems.
My guess - as the generational cohorts who occupied the workforce and governments pre-Internet begin to retire and/or occupy less active roles, and are replaced by people who have been playing video games, surfing the Net, downloading music and e-mailing each other as if e-mail had always been there (which it will have been, for them), we will see many examples of new concentrations of power and new examples of "the amount of leverage the many have over the few".
It will be interesting to watch how hard the few try to keep control, and to what lengths they will go.
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
The conclusion reached in this article by Clay Shirky seems to support the notion that something big and important - a real shift in collaborative and communicative power - is an inevitable eventuality
Here's someone who should be proselytizing about "wirearchy" instead of me.
Knowledge is power ?
I saw an entry on Tom Matrullo's blog last night that intrigued me. It went something like:
Knowledge (*) power ( *=/not=)
Knowledge is power
Power is knowledge
Power is not knowledge
Knowledge is not power
It strikes me that (as a generalization) "knowledge is power" only insofar as the knowledge is validated in a structure (almost always a hierarchy). There's lots of knowledge out there (and knowledgeable people) without power - and it (the knowledge) will only become powerrrful (grrrrr!) if and when it is used to challenge existing power structures.
At least once a day I wonder why I'm not optimistic 24/7, nor continuously more successful - in other words, I reflect on the meandering path of my life to date.
I ran across this on David Weinberger's blog
. It looks to me like I'm not the only person that doesn't think there's been constant progress.
Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Choose
Ten ways today is worse than yesterday:
Energy conservation and clean air
The Supreme Court
School testing replaces education
Arrogant, smirking ex-CEOs are now the world's sole super power
You know, without the Web and a computer, I probably would never have learned about the following issue:
Summarised from an item in the Times (Aug 11th '97) entitled 'Plastic callipers get the measure of the promiscuous male'.
A woman may be able to get forewarning of her partner's propensity to stray by noting the size of his testicles.
Dr Robert Baker of Manchester University, in a study of 80 male student volunteers, has found that those with large testicles were far more likely to be unfaithful to their partners. The average testicle size was 24 cubic centimetres, whilst the largest was 52.
Dr Baker believes that since both the faithful and unfaithful patterns have lasted through evolution, both must be equally 'fit' in passing on the male's genes. The faithful male will impregnate fewer women but is more likely to look after the offspring.
Harvey Pitt of the SEC resigned yesterday.
What I don't clearly understand is why, at some level of fundamental accounting principles, there can't be basic "checks-and-balances" installed - by law - in all financial information systems reporting software. In other words, such software couldn't be sold in the USA unless it conformed to certain basic specifications aligned with the same areas of "regulation and oversight" with which the SEC and FASB concern themselves.
This presumably could be at the level of certain key elements of GAAP, for example, that would ensure a certain basic level of honesty and transparency. Well....why not?
Organizations do it to their customers, i.e.. banks' systems force customers into certain forms of compliance behavior. I'm sure if I think a bit more, I'll come up with other examples. If I do, I'll pick up this thread again.
If it's because of free-market ideology, well, come on....we've just seen for the last couple of years how well ideology is serving our North American society.
Just sitting in a hotel room at 7.00 a.m, watching the early news about yesterday's elections in the USA. A person from AOL online was on, noting:
There were an average of 600,00 online at any one time, checking AOL's election information site - some of the benefits observed or purported:
- sample ballots, with linked information about the range of propositions
- supposedly more objective information - a "no-spin zone", so to speak. The AOL person noted that voters can "interact one-to-one" with objective information - the spin doctors are out of the equation. Hmmm...
- heavier voter turnouts
Nevertheless, the GOP have turned the corner on controlling both the House and Senate. Then Iraq, then North Korea, then the world?
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
From an article by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi titled "The Physics of the Web
". Given that many prominent thinkers have made clear links between physics, biology and social systems such as our current forms of organizations, it should be just a matter of time till people "connect the dots", realizing that accessibility to information and hyperlinking - enabled by the Internet and Web - will makle clear how the patterns of information flows will create new "permanent" models of organizational structures and necessarily new ways of leading and managing people in organizations.
Separated by 19 clicks
In 1967 Stanley Milgram, a sociologist at Harvard University in the US, surprised the world with a bold claim: any person in the world can be traced to any other by a chain of five or six acquaintances. That is, despite the six billion inhabitants of our planet, we live in a "small world". This feature of social networks came to be known as "six degrees of separation" after John Guare's Broadway play and movie. In addition, sociologists have repeatedly argued that nodes (i.e. people) in social networks are grouped in small clusters, representing circles of friends and acquaintances in which each node is connected to all other nodes, with only a few weak links to the world outside their own circle of friends.
While the existence of such local clustering and small-world behaviour agrees with our intuition, these features were not expected to be relevant beyond social systems. It came as a surprise, therefore, when Duncan Watts of Columbia University and Steven Strogatz of Cornell University found that many networks in nature, such as the brain of the worm C. elegans, as well as the network of movie actors in Hollywood and the network of power lines in western America, simultaneously have a small node separation and display a high degree of clustering. The question is whether the Internet and the Web follow this paradigm?
As we move forward into a world in which we are encircled by software, and interconnected, I see polarities emerging everywhere.
The more work and organizational processes are re-engineered and made efficient, the more people need to be able to learn from each other, share their insights and experiences, and find ways to feel engaged.
There are all sorts of initiatives and responses to these conditions popping up. For example, Margaraet Wheatley of "Leadership and the New Science
" fame, and more recently author of a new book "Turning to One Another - Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future
", has been growing the Berkana Institute and also acting as figurehead and a leader of the From the Four Directions initiative, focused on building Conversation Circles
around the globe.
A colleague and I have just carried out the first part of a two-part facilitation with about 250 participants at an annual professional conference. At first glance, a bog-standard conference - keynote speakers, workshop presenters, and exhibition hall with vendors plying their approaches and wares.
However, what we've been doing is an interesting departure, I believe - and we've gotten really good feedback so far. We've been charged with helping this profession reconceive their roles and action, and so were asked to introduce them to change models and get them started on a journey of real and substantive change.
We took the stage right after the opening keynote speaker - what happened ten minutes into our offering was interesting. We started with an invitation - an invitation to change, building from the notion that "change is inevitable, growth is optional". We then provided a brief glimpse of the core dynamics of change, using a model we've grown to love - The Four-Room Apartment of Change
, developed by Claes Janssen, a Swedish social psychologist. He discovered/invented this model while doing research for the Swedish Film Institute in the late '60's/early '70's. In his words
"Scientifically, the 4-Room Apartment is original, in that it is created by building consensus. The participants create it - I give them a questionnaire - The Outsider Scale - and they then use key words to characterize people who answer "No" to all or almost all of the questions, and people who answer "Yes" to all or almost all the questions". Built from the ultimate polarity (Yes/No), the Four Rooms are 1) Contentment, 2) Denial, 3) Confusion, and 4) Renewal.
Then, we led the participants through a series of ten minute exercises, in which triads at the tables in the conference hall shared with each other their perceptions of which room they were in (as individuals, the organization to which they belonged, and as a profession). They were then asked to develop a quick draft version of the key purpose of their role today, followed by a brief description of the major changes coming at their profession in the next three to five years.
As one might imagine, coming to a conference, listening to a keynote, and then all of a sudden being asked to engage in a series of mini learning circles based on conversations was a surprise to the participants. Most people going to a conference expect to sit and be presented with information, and so act as passive recipients rather than engaged co-creators.
As we closed this first session, we offered them templates to take with them through the next two days of workshops, so that they can continue to develop their learning, based on sound adult learning principles - and also offered them our observations about the substantial amount of energy and positive anticipation was unleashed in that first two-hour session. The buzz was palpable - the hard part was reining them in and regaining their attention each time we wanted to move forward to the next exercise.
This learning dynamic is being reinforced by themed threaded discussion groups, available on the professional association's website, in a CyberCafe which is an integral part of the conference.
During the lunch after this session, we repeatedly had people coming up to us saying "this wasn't what I expected, but it's great - we can learn so much from each other, and it's building our motivation to really get going when we go back to work - we need to change".
The whole point is to engage people, rather than having them sit back and be bombarded with PowerPoint messages, get inspired momentarily, and then forget about that inspiration by the time they're halfway through the next presentation. So far, it seems to be working well.
The second part, coming up tomorrow, will be similar, but will be focused on engaging with real change and making positive change happen. By the time they leave the conference, they will take with them a draft action plan for addressing a real change in their role, and taking this out into their organization.
More on how this goes tomorrow.
Sunday, November 03, 2002
Following on Chris's notes below on conversation and KM -
I've often thought about this. There's a core issue in KM - that of the gulf separating Tacit Knowledge (TK) and Explicit Knowledge (EK), with proponents arguing that TK is only really shareable ("manageable" ??) via conversation, dialogue, communitites of practice, and so on.
I tend to agree. At the same time I believe that in a wirearchical world there are emerging tools that allow for sharing, building, using, re-using and adding to knowledge - tools that don't have to necessarily replicate the synchronous, face-to-face aspects of conversation. What IS problematic are the other aspects of communications that are involved - culture, structure, body language, attention.
Attention, in particular, holds my fascination these days. I'm continually amazed at how hard it often is to have a fully-fleshed-out conversation with people - we are overrun with "get to the point", "make it tangible", "what's your value proposition" (which is OK in and of itself) without - often - the participants in a conversation taking the time and expending the mental and attentional effort to define and understand the context. Specialization is in, generalization is out.
This has utility, in an era defined by time pressures, but I think it's dangerous not taking the time or making the effort to listen to each other long enough to share a common field of understanding and meaning. As things get more uncertain, and compelxity accelerates, people want clear and simple answers. Hmmm....
From David Weinberger
The opposite of machine is voice
The opposite of information is trust
I have been thinking for a while about how understanding knowledge "management" could benefit from exploring the dynamics of friendship. If we are to develop and share useful knowledge, we need to trust each other.
Do you trust "instant friends", or a transaction where someone else you don't know says "this is what you need to know - here it is". How do they know that's what you need to know?
On the other hand, you trust a friend. Why? Because you've been down several roads together, you've gotten to know each others' characters and contexts, and you've probably had instances where boundaries have been crossed - and the friendship has survived. They've made mistakes - given you the wrong info, so to speak - but you've cut them some slack, probably found a way to communicate to each other about that, and as a result the context and trust have grown "deeper and wider". You've yelled at them, stopped speaking to them for a while - someone (one of you) reaches out, issues are reviewed and clarified, a negative feeling is lifted, and you go on to share more, learn more, develop more.
Passing this puck over to KM - tools exist to "share" information and knowledge, but adoption has been relatively slow. Sure, there are big integrated sysytems that are like warehouses. Sure, there's Lotus Notes. Sure, there's Groove. And so on.... Yet, the potential for sharing knowledge and starting to really cook has only just started to scratch the surface of possibility.
As I'm writing this, I am recognizing the distinction of - inside organizations versus outside organizations. Blogging is knowledge sharing, isn't it? Why does it seem to work well? Because it's the sharing of points of view without an ulterior motive - the receiver can decide what's useful, interesting, outrageous, incorrect (from their POV), and so on...
So, back to the slowish adoption of tools and sharing....Inside an organization, there's competition, territoriality, punishment for irrelevance or irreverence (at least in the formal sense). People at work are, for the most part, constrained and held hostage by structures that are often outdated, too rigid to accommodate true creative and constructive conversation. Interesting conversations happen, anyway...it's just that they have to find some other "time and place".
There's always been lots of "jazz" conversations that transfer and share lots of knowledge - but it's almost always been on the QT when it's not structured, formal and "on the agenda", as it were.
My belief is that wirearchy is clearly leading to the necessity for more open workplace cultures. What a polarity, eh - a greater drive for efficiency, more demand for results, six sigma, specialization, cost clampdowns, layoffs, longer work weeks, juxtaposed
by the pressing need for greater flexibility, responsiveness, innovation, integration.
I think we're clearly seeing the leading edge of these issues and dynamics emerging, what with all the consulting in employee engagement, emotional intelligence, participative management, coaching, real-time employee input, employee relationship management, etc. The old structures and assumptions are eroding in effectiveness, the new approach(es) aren't yet clear. However, it's clear (to me) that mass customization - of work, and of learning - is on it's way into the workplace and into our society. It has been for a while, and the marketers have understood this for some time (One-to-One
), but it hasn't really been framed in this context for the world of work. I'm pretty sure it will be, soon.
Back to KM, and the mass customization of sharing knowledge - IMO, Knowledge Management will never be fully addressed by having an integrated information system that makes whatever you need accessible when you need it - context, questioning, interpretation and fit-for-purpose will always have an essential role to play, and so what better than a Knowledge Buddy - a collaborator - with whom to have an argument, or with whom you can share a major breakthrough.
What about looking to the dynamics of effective friendships to inform this dialogue further?
Hey, and while we're at it, there's the whole (similar) fields of Family Systems dynamics from which to obtain additional useful insights. The OD word has been onto this for some time - and I've personally used Virginia Satir's work in a number of my interventions over the years.
Friday, November 01, 2002
We are here
Wirearchy is going to all the "places" described in this article.