Thursday, September 20, 2007

Management by Community

In his recent blog post about inputs by many, Andrew McAfee talks about

why shouldn’t companies take the next logical step and also use the tools to let the crowds themselves make decisions related to this knowledge?

This is a thought provoking question. In fact, this is happening in some places ... There are a handful of organizations which has specific businesses being run by communities ... The basic idea ... The salesrep, or the service engineer who are interacting with customers on a daily basis know more about the requirements of customers, and the problems customers face, much more than their managers sitting in the Office. Is this a valid assumption? Definitely ... Thomas Davenport, and Laurence Prusak, in their book, Working Knowledge, give the example of Kao, Japan's largest household and chemical products manufacturer, where the culture is such that all meeting, including top management meetings are open to any employee. This is ensuring that the ideas of the people who are closest to customers are being heard at the appropriate places, and incorporated in the decision making. The idea of management by communities is simply taking this one step further.

How can we do this? Expecially in an organization which is large, with a geographically dispersed workforce, which comes from very diverse backgrounds ... Thats where we need to look at technology to come in. This is where the ideas of web 2.0 come into the picture, and can enable the kind of collaboration, and "meeting of minds", which could enable a paradigm like the one I am talking about.

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