Network management

Lorcan 2 min read

Gary Hamel, management guru, has a couple of posts about about management in the network age. On the web, he says, authority trickles up, not down.
The first, on a WSJ blog is called ‘The Facebook generation vs the Fortune 500’, and in it he discusses the expectations of Generation F: “At a minimum, they’ll expect the social environment of work to reflect the social context of the Web, rather than as is currently the case, a mid-20th-century Weberian bureaucracy”.

With that in mind, I compiled a list of 12 work-relevant characteristics of online life. These are the post-bureaucratic realities that tomorrow’s employees will use as yardsticks in determining whether your company is “with it” or “past it.” In assembling this short list, I haven’t tried to catalog every salient feature of the Web’s social milieu, only those that are most at odds with the legacy practices found in large companies. [Growing up online will profoundly shape the workplace expectations of the Facebook Generation]

I thought there was much of interest here, although I wondered if there was a touch of playing to the gallery involved also. Individually, there are no strong surprises on the list, although it would be interesting to read of organizations which model a variety of these behaviors:
1. All ideas compete on an equal footing.
2. Contribution counts for more than credentials.
3. Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.
4. Leaders serve rather than preside.
5. Tasks are chosen, not assigned.
6. Groups are self-defining and -organizing.
7. Resources get attracted, not allocated.
8. Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
9. Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
10. Users can veto most policy decisions.
11. Intrinsic rewards matter most.
12. Hackers are heroes.
In the second, on a HBR blog, he reports the outcomes of a meeting of management leaders to discuss major management challenges in this environment.

Before arriving, each of the 35 attendees participated in an hour-long interview. The double-barreled question: What is it about the way large organizations are currently managed that will most imperil their ability to thrive in the decades ahead; and given this, what fundamental changes will be needed in management principles, processes and practices? [25 Stretch Goals for Management – Gary Hamel –]

The outcome here is a set of 25 “moonshots for management”. As an example, here is Number 7: “Redefine the work of leadership. The notion of the leader as a heroic decision maker is untenable. Leaders must be recast as social-systems architects who enable innovation and collaboration.”
And here is number 16 “Empower the renegades and disarm the reactionaries. Management systems must give more power to employees whose emotional equity is invested in the future rather than in the past.”

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