Thursday, September 17, 2009

Are We On The Right Track?

There is a post written by Luis Suarez about whether the way we are describing Social Computing, and Enterprise 2.0 is the right way, and if it is, whether it is surprising that results are not as quick in coming as one would like them to be. So this post is a little late, and i had thought of writing this last week, but knowing me, you wouldnt be surprised. The question Luis is raising is whether change would be happening anytime soon:

Maybe we are just planting the seed for that change to take place in 20, 30 or 50 years from now!

Or maybe it just wont? Maybe the change that we are talking about would be in a form quite different from the change that we are working towards. More about that, though ...

The way i look at the idea of change being too slow, i dont think this is surprising. The way i look at this change, its quite similar, in terms of magnitude, to the change from the individual mode of production to the industrial mode of production, and this didnt happen in a day. Sure, it probably took much less time than we would expect similar change to take now (after all, we are living in a world where the speed of change is increasing with every passing day). The change that we are talking about is not so much about the technology, or about people for that matter, as it is about the form, or structure of mode of production, both in terms of the processes which are required to create value, as well as the nature of the work, and the interrelations between different participants in these processes, whether individuals, or organizations. In other words, this change is about the way people interact with each other, both as individuals, as well as participants in the value-creation process, though i believe, its much more the former than the latter, unless you believe that human beings are a logical species, which, being a logical person yourself, you wouldnt subscribe to. This change is about the changing roles of participants in the value-creation process, which brings along with it changes in the decision-making structures of the organization. If you look at it carefully, the earlier transformation, to the organizational mode of production, saw movement of decision-making from the many to the few, and the change we are talking about today, is about movement the other way round.

Coming back to the question of why the change we are looking for, may not exactly be the way we are thinking it would be. As i have written before, looking at a community-based model of the organization replacing the model of the organization we have today may not be a bright idea. This is simply because an organization needs to drive in a particular direction, and for the organization to do so, the parts of the organization must be synchronized with each other, rather than pulling in different directions. Which is why, to bring coherence in the direction that communities take (assuming that at some point in the future, communities are a normal occurence in organizations), hierarchies would play a role. This may mean that the change that we could see may be somewhere between the community and hierarchy way of looking at the organization. Any thoughts on this, please leave a comment.


a ray said...

interesting post abt how still ppl take knowledge management is treated as an external factor in day to day administration, decision making .

i feel knowledge management in some form or other is used by us in reaching decisions, in particular policy level decisions. this becomes all the more relevant in crisis situations when there is either excess or lack of is in these situation most of us just depend on experience or precedence.
knowledge management is very much there- it needs to be crystallised and needs to be instilled, refreshed at regular intervals by experts-that way we can improve our decision making.

Atul said...

Quite agree. I believe Knowledge Management as a practice has been with humanity for quite some time, though i also believe that we are not completely rational decision-makers. This may be because we usually dont have the exact amount of information required, but even so, there is some aspect which is not completely rational. And it is this part, the undocumented, not rational part, which is the key to leveraging knowledge to make decisions.