All comments posted on this blog do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am affiliated with. These are my personal perspectives only.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Enterprise 2.0 Organizational Structure: Importing more than just technology from Web 2.0

There's much more to web 2.0 than just the technology. For those looking to replicate the success of web 2.0 into their enterprise 2.0 initiative they should consider organizational structure for the the self-organizing community.

Long before Web 2.0, I was inspired by Jim Collin's work in Good to Great. Of the many observations made, he talked about the role of leadership. That the role of leadership is NOT to motivate people. That if you had the right people first, and provided the right opportunity, people are self-motivated. The role of leadership is to not let them get de-motivated!

I've personally experienced this and am sure many of you have as well. Where you have been a part of something you were quite passionate about. The thrill wasn't about the money, but making your mark and driving 'the right thing'.

Unfortunately, the traditional hierarchical organizational model is a bit of a hit-or-miss. Sure we may get some activities cascaded through the chain-of-command and we can get passionate about them but there are so many opportunities that don't cascade to the individual through this model. What if somewhere else in the organization there is a team doing something I know I could help them with and that I was extremely passionate about? I don't get the opportunity and the organization misses the opportunity.

Web 2.0 has some advice for us. It has proven the potential of a more heterarchical model. One where the individual self-selects the activities that best fit his/her skills & passions. Being Saint Patrick's day and all, here is a visual (The Clover) that represents the self-organized hierarchy and which happens to look a bit like a 4-leaf clover. Others have also referred to this as the Hollywood model.

This org chart should look a lot different to the standard one we see. Does it completely replace the traditional org structure? In my opinion... No... It actually co-exists. For this to work, a couple of things are missing from the visual.

First, there needs to be co-ordination of the activities within the self-organized communities. A co-ordinator allows people to know when opportunities exists, manages the set of activities holistically. Note this does not mean the co-ordinator is the "leader" of the activities.

Secondly, there will be tasks that nobody may volunteer for. For those tasks, leadership will still have to request individuals to perform the tasks and try to best match skills with the task.
Thirdly, people are still people. They need mentoring, coaching, feedback, compensation. In a fluid model like "The Clover", this can be quite difficult. My proposal here is to retain stability of a coach/boss. They may or may-not actually report into these coaches.

Way back in school I recall an economics class on "perfect discrimination". The ability to perfectly match price to the individual to maximize profit. In a way, this self-organization friendly org structure allows us to much better match that value an individual brings to the table with the work that needs to be done.


Dennis McDonald in Alexandria, Virginia USA said...

Nice post! I'd love to see an animated version of this type of figure, one where a soft boundary exists between internal and external people, representing "inside organization" and "outside organization," then an overlay of constantly shifting groups that represent the connections individuals have (constantly shifting) with multiple groups and individuals. Sort of a dynamic "network analysis diagram." Know anyone who does such a thing?

Rex Lee said...

Thanks for the comment. Interestingly, I had the same idea of animating and am looking into it. Appreciate your suggestions