Hierarchy Vs Network
In It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall I looked at how changing communication methods had driven The Age of Tribes through Oral storytelling and the move from factual stories to fiction. The advent of the written word heralded The Age of Hierarchy As this developed from tablets of stone to libraries of books I argued it reached its peak 100 years ago. The slaughter of the “Great War” created an appetite for change that has only increased with time.
So what communication change has enabled The Age of the Network?
The Internet. Allowing communication to take place asynchronously, without borders and at a cost close to zero.
It is perhaps fitting that the first true Network organisation helped create the infrastructure for The Age of Network. Linus Torvalds, a Finnish software engineer was the developer of the Linux kernel, which is the beating heart of the Internet. With his network of fellow software engineers they were at the forefront of the Open Source movement. Giving their time for free and developing software which was free, the software arising from this crucible of creative energy is proven to be more secure and with fewer bugs than closed source software. As Linus said. Many eyes make shallow bugs
The other differentiating feature is that in a Network organisation; Reputation trumps Status. In the Hierarchical organisation power is retained/gained by the control of information, both upwards and downward.
In the Network, the Wisdom of Crowds kicks in, rewarding size of network combined with maximum transparency and maximum information… It is Reputation that denotes your influence. Not your race, gender, sexual preference, physical ability, who your parents were, the school you went to. It is your knowledge coupled with how you deploy that knowledge.
Take LinkedIn. Just an Online CV?.. Much, much more.
It allows others to comment on your capabilities. To see your activity in comments and posts. Even which post you have liked… Such data is used by potential employees/clients to assess your corporate fit. Post a fatuous Facebook type status post and do not be surprised if the phone stays silent.
The Network organisation is disruptive. At every level. The velocity of change is accelerating in an echo of Moore’s law. According to Kevin Kelly we now live in a state of Flux. Constant change
Improvements are a step change in areas such as cost. This means jobs. If you have a method of organising that saves costs….it will translate into redundancies. Hence the resistance to change. Given the chance; Turkeys tend not to vote for Xmas. (See my comment below)
Margaret Thatcher swept through the smoke stack industries of the Industrial revolution: Ship building, Steel, Coal. The Age of the Network will sweep through the last bastion of The Age of Hierarchy. How we govern ourselves. MP’s and Civil Servants.
Your comments ahead of our F2F this coming Saturday are most welcome
Link to F2F Video meeting https://meet.jit.si/idd332/01