I’m delighted I’ve finally been able to hear and meet Jon Husband of wirearchy.com.  Jon is one of the few, very few, people working with organizations to help them evolve their organization structures to support the collaborative technologies and resulting work behaviours.  In most organizations there is this horrible disconnect between the hoopla about “working collaboratively” with “social networking tools” and the management practices, reporting relationships and performance expectations. As Husband says, the fundamentals about how we design work (& I add here, how organizations design themselves) hasn’t changed in 50 years. 50 years. Shesh. Organizations can talk the talk about “collaboration”, but to effectively implement collaborative tools and work behaviours they have to walk the walk of new organization structures, management practices and employment expectations and compensation.The hierarchical structure has been based on the belief that knowledge is arranged vertically. But this is no longer the case — now knowledge flows horizontally and chaotically (he didn’t use that term, but I think that’s an apt term — chaos isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all — out of chaos can come new thinking.)

Ok, so what does this mean for organizations? Well, it means that they will work “ok” for the time being, but until this issue is really addressed, the true benefits of all these technologies and people working collaboratively will not be realized. Husband says he’s bored with this. Me too. He also says that this issue will be addressed during the next ten years. I agree. He also talked about the fact that organizations have to choose different structures depending on what they need to accomplish. Yep – I agree there too. Kind of a blended structure approach. One structure sure doesn’t fit all.

Husband also pointed to some other sources to explore on this topic, including Gary Hamel’s Future of Management hamel.jpg, fredcavazza.net, Clay Shirky,  and Canadians Don Tapscott and Dave Pollard. (Jon is also from Canada. Great, eh?)  He
also referred to Malone’s Future of Work  which I’ve used many, many times. But Malone’s work is now 4 years old, and I’m not as travelled as Jon is, but I just don’t see the organizations evolving their structures. So…. the next ten years will be interesting. But if organizations don’t get on with the changes required to their structures and management, then it could be even MORE interesting.  I’m hoping to talk with Jon later today, and one of the issues I want to talk with him about is the impact of this on unionized environments — or maybe, to reframe that — the impact of the unionized environments on this…..