Been around long enough to the “birth” of the internet, and it’s rebirth a couple of times, could this be the next rebirth?
My personal opinion is that this ought to be the way we are headed, not sure there won’t be a lot of speed bumps along the way but…
We invented social technologies, now let’s invent social organizations
Our technology tools and platforms are highly participatory and social. They take advantage of intrinsic human motivations to contribute in order to be noticed, to share opinions, to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Otherwise how would one explain remarkable success of Wikipedia and many other crowdsourced sites that rely on contributions of volunteers? Our business models, by contrast, are based primarily on monetary rewards. They are mostly hierarchical and non-participatory decisionmaking processes (Facebook’s unilaterial decisions regarding changes in privacy terms for members is but one example). And they operate without the kind of transparency of information when applied to their own operations that is at the core of communities they enable.
If we are to truly fulfill the promise of technology tools we have created, we urgently need to design new governance models and new ways of creating value. In the least, organizations whose value derives from communities they create should incorporate the governance principles of successful commons organizations and use the same technology platforms that are at the core of their operations for governance purposes.
It is not that radical of an idea to suggest that our organizational models need to change in line with the evolution of our tools. Let’s not forget that organizations we inherit are not pre-ordained or immutable—they grow out of prevailing cultural norms, economic conditions, and technology infrastructure. Marshall McLuhan famously said, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” We invented a new generation of technologies. Now we need to allow those technologies reinvent us and our organizations.
I couldn’t agree more. I do think some companies are trying to go this route – I know we are. There aren’t a lot of examples out there though so it’s hard to determine what really works and how to truly be a “transparent” organization in the right way. I’m not convinced all employees want to see and know everything. So, how do you balance all this? Time will tell but we’re giving it a shot.
The next generation organizational model is already developing – complexity economics. The sooner we transition from neoclassical economics, the better for the economy, government, and society.