Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Web 2.0 and the Future of Management

Jim Lee at APQC has recently posted a blog entry titled Et tu, web 2.0? In it he reviews a number of Web 2.0 technologies and rates their usefulness in the context of his own impressions, needs and contexts. At the end of the post, he asks Gen Y'ers to share their experience with Web 2.0 stuff. (Which is why I'm commenting here and not on his blog.. I'm a bit "long in the tooth" to qualify as a Gen Y'er.)

Jim has been exploring the use/usefulness of Web 2.0 technologies for a while, even questioning the value of his APQC blog. I think his questions are in line with what many of us are considering when looking at Web 2.0 in the context of business value and purpose.

I picked up on a couple of interesting themes in his blog;

  • the value of Web 2.0 tools if you're on the road almost 100% of the time
  • some of the tools don't work for him , which it think is as much related to preferred learning style as anything else
  • and most interestingly, he mentions "knowledge marketplace"
The last point really caught my attention, as I'm reading Gary Hamel's absolutely brilliant book (at least in my opinion), The Future of Management.

In the context of key trends and external forces that are affecting individuals and companies alike, requiring dramatically greater adaptability, Gary points to the shortcomings of the current management paradigm built on the core principles of standardization, specialization, hierarchy, alignment, planning and control, and influencing human behaviour using extrinsic rewards. He then suggests that the key is management innovation, which he defines as "anything that substantially alters the way in which the work of management is carried out, or significantly modifies customary organizational forms, and, by so doing, advances organizational goals."

He also suggests that adopting new principles is at the core of management innovation, and offers:
  • variety, diversity, experimentation, depoliticizing / depolarization of decision making
  • resource allocation flexibility through a market model
  • enabling activism through democracy (devolution of accountability, distributed leadership, unalienable dissention rights)
  • engagement and mobilization through meaning and common cause
  • increasing the odds, and successful contribution, of serendipity

When I think of these, I see a role for Web 2.0 / social media in supporting and enabling management innovation. The effective integration of social media content, features, functions and capabilities (e.g. collaborating, creating, publishing, linking, sharing, commenting, reviewing, rating, aggregating, dis-intermediating, combining and re-combining) has the potential to enable a shift in management paradigm, to support the change from old to new, and provide the part of the support infrastructure for working in new and innovative ways.

BTW: James Gardner has an interesting view of Web 2.0 social media in his blog post titled "The New Divide: The workforce gap."

As well, McKinsey has published a management innovation related article titled Innovative Management: A Conversation with Gary Hamel and Lowell Bryan.