Social Computing, HierarchiesPosted: December 29, 2009
There is a rather interesting one about how the latest trends in social computing are making people change the way they are thinking about people-to-people connections. You can read it here. This is essentially about how the changing nature of collaboration, powered by social computing would lead to changes to people management and the resulting enterprise value chain. What i found quite interesting were a few of the things mentioned here.
Somewhat related to my previous post, the article makes an interesting point:
When enterprise real-time collaboration becomes associated with learning and knowledge sharing, it can be self-reinforcing …
The important point here is the idea of collaboration becoming associated with learning. The important point here is to understand that in addition to learning by doing (something which is reflected in “on-the-job training”), people also learn from the things others do, from the experiences of others, and this is where social computing plays important role.
What is also important is to see how it is coming to the front that people connections are at least as relevant as traditional forms of learning, as can be seen from the part where the piece says that connecting people to expertise is going to be a very important aspect of learning for the organization. I agree that formal training will always have a role to play in enhancing skills, but at the same time, it must be understood that people connections can enhance the effectiveness of formal training by enhancing the post-training engagement as well.
Another thing this piece says is that hierarchies will be replaced by social influence maps. While i dont completely agree with this (i think hierarchies will continue to exist, though the shape they take would be different in different organizations based on the level of acceptance of social connectivity as a way of doing work), i also like the way they have explained this.
Top down goals will continue to set aligned business objectives, but how those objectives are met will happen through informal networks …
This is why i believe that in organizations which go the e2.0 way, hierarchies and communities are going to co-exist. Both are probably going to influence the way the other is structured, but both are going to complement each other in the organization. One way could be that the networks and communities become the tools for the way the work is done while hierarchies define what needs to be done, or another could be that hierarchies define the creation of communities and networks (which, while being counter-intuitive does happen to an extent) for getting work done, or hierarchies make their way into networks and communities. Like i said, the extent to which these changes would happen would depend on the culture of the organizations, and the extent of value the organziation perceives from these changes.