Changing Nature of the Organization … Cont’d …Posted: September 12, 2007
If you look at my earlier blog post here on How Knowledge is Changing Organizations you would find that one of the major shifts I am discussing there is that shift from the current form of an organization, of being a group of employees working for a single entity, to a new form of a set of individuals, pooling their skills for a single “client”. Of course, the word client is too dramatic a word here, but thats precisely the reason why I am using it.
There is a very interesting post by Andrew McAfee about The Great Decoupling where he talks about the changing nature of the relationship between information flows in the organization, and the decision making rights, and the implications of this on the structure of the organization.
This is a rather interesting concept … Because, this would imply that work, and more importantly, decision making rights, would get relocated to the places and the people best suited to do that work (best suited in terms, of course, of having the most relevant knowledge to do the work). Andrew is of the opinion that this would lead to centralization of the decision making part of the organization. I would much rather coin a phrase like “pocketization” (ok, so another word for you to much on), which basically implies that there would typically be pockets where work of a particular nature would be concentrated. While this is very similar to the functional department structure of the organization, this one would be very different, because this would recognize expertise in pockets cutting across the organization, and across levels of the hierarchy.
This essentially means that specific parts of the organization would tend to work with a greater level of autonomy, living into a greater level of decoupling between different organizational units. And this is one of the reasons why we find so much more emphasis on Intellectual Property. While information needs to flow to people who have the expertise to do that work, an important part of information is IP, and if people doing the work are going to be more autonomous, in several instances, not being part of the organization itself, IP would become more and more of a concern. Of course, this is not to say this is the only reason, but this is definitely one of the reasons.