Mutterings of a consultant

June 2, 2008

Does power really go to the people?

Filed under: worklife — grantfrear @ 2:00 am
Tags: , , ,

We all have an ability to voice our views through blogs, facebook and various other web2.0 mechanisms.  This ability is however restricted (if that is the right word) to the public domain.  Very few of us have the ability and permission to engage in a similar way within the organisations within which we work.  While arguably the social domain is more interesting than the enterprise domain it seems that enterprises are missing out on a great deal.  

This was the recent topic of a post by Andrew McAfee from Harvard Business School.  He was invited to discuss management challenges and positioned this issue at the centre of the issues that he sees.  For those who have not heard of Andrew McAfee he coined the term Enterprise 2.0 and is the leading thinker in adapting Web2.0 and applying it within an enterprise.  

He makes a very good point about the use of Web2.0 within enterprises.  It does not transfer decision rights, the management team are still responsible for the decisions and management of the organisation.  In this way management power does not go to the people.  What these tools can do is connect the management to the people and to harness the enthusiasm and commitment of the people for the benefit of both the organisation and the individual.

Most organisations persist in one-way communications (top down) with a slight interruption in the form of management 360 degree feedback surveys.  Enterprise-discourse (the enterprise equivalent to social discourse) is left to the lunch room and coffee breaks.  As such it very rarely makes it to the attention of management.  The net result: lost ideas, disaffected staff, disconnected management.

Enterprise2.0 is not about handing the keys over to the team, rather a more positive and inclusive way of engaging the team.  Lets hope that today’s leaders can recognise this and have the strength to embrace it.


1 Comment »

  1. The half life of knowledge, skills and anything worthy of notable contribution to our Enterprises is rapidly shortening. No longer are skills handed through generations from father to son, master to apprentice. Increasingly more often our masters are learning from their apprentices (is it even possible to achieve a permananent state of ‘mastery’ in anything anymore?). We need to listen and learn from our staff, our apprentices (and indeed our children) to make sense and keep pace with our rapidly changing world. Arguably only through positively encouraging the participation of our teams can management hope to have sufficient information to make informed decisions. The decision rights are no transferred – ultimately the maturity of the management team still leads to the most balanced perspective and best judgement – however only by listening to the whole of Enterprise perspective, being open to new ideas and embracing change will management manage anything meaningful.

    Comment by Gareth Glover — August 1, 2008 @ 6:04 am | Reply

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