Hierarchies, E 2.0


This is a topic which has been discussed for a while, and one which we still dont know much about. The dynamics of how hierarchy and community would interplay with each other are being figured out. And maybe thats why this question keeps coming up from time to time. There is an interesting post written by Andrew McAfee where he writes about the thought that the millennials wont change work, rather, they would get changed by the organization structure as they get settled into the working environment. While at first glance Luis Suarez in this post seems to disagree with Andrew (he says so too), i think he is trying to refine what Andrew says.

The question here seems to be, put more generically, what would be the kind of impact millennials, with their worldview, would have on organizations. Whether they would have their worldviews changed by organization structures, or whether they would influence organization structures to an extent where community, collaborative working, distributed decision-making, and distributed leadership would get a different meaning from what they have now.

I feel the two are neither very probable. What i feel would be the evolutionary path would be some kind of middle route, where hierarchies would impact the millennial’s way of working, their worldview, and millennials would impact the way organizations are structured, and to an extent, the way organizations work. I have written about this earlier and i feel that change in this scenario would be gradual, and the impact would be seen only after maybe 20-30 years. This is the time it would take (just a guess, please write a comment if you dont agree with the guess) for the interactions of the two different ways of doing things to play out and enable the new form to emerge.

I agree with Andrew that:

If all these articles were accurate, we would have witnessed almost nonstop convulsions in the workplace over the past sixty years, and knowledge work environments that look nothing like they did a few generations ago. But instead we still have org charts that mean something, jobs with narrowly defined responsibilities, promotions, bosses and subordinates, and most of the other longstanding trappings of organizational life.

Having said that, i also agree with Luis that:

To me, work happens around you; the workplace is no longer a physical location where you would go to do your working hours, report to your boss and project team and then back home. To me, work happens around you AND those knowledge workers, across the organisation, you connect and collaborate with in various social networks and communities. Not just traditional organisational structures, like in the past; business work has become a whole lot more complex than that lately, don’t you think?

Having said that, i feel that the change would be somewhere between the two. Where between the two it would be, would depend on the environment in which the change is happening. This environment would include the culture of the organization, the nature of work the organization does, and the demographics of the organization (these are just the variables which come to mind first off, there would be more, so if you can come up with some, please leave a comment).

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One Comment on “Hierarchies, E 2.0”

  1. […] the form of the organization. These discussions were happening not too long ago, something i have written about […]


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