Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Information is power and communication is about distributing it

2:44:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , , No comments
Information is power as it can generate new knowledge, knowledge that can be used to decide whether or not to take action and what action to take, how and when. Communication is about distributing that power to others, about transferring knowledge from one person to another so that more people can make the informed decisions and take appropriate actions.

Web 2.0 and social media has to do with the removal of communication barriers, democratization of communication means, access to more powerful communication tools and the unlocking of information so that it can be freely shared. This is what is happening on the web and it is changing society, organizations and life as we know it. We do not know exactly how it will change, but we know that changes are happening. These are typical characteristics of a revolution (or crisis).

How should an organization approach this revolution? I believe that one answer is to be active instead of passive, to embrace change instead of being hurt by it later, to analyze the changes mentioned above in order to see how the organization can take advantage of these before any competitors do so.

The fact that anyone can communicate and collaborate with anyone at almost no cost will inevitably have implications for traditional organizations. This is simply because traditional hierarchic organizations have been designed based on the fact that the cost of organizing people and getting them to communicate and collaborate with each other is high. Now that has changed, or even collapsed (according to Clay Shirky). Their design makes them slow-moving, reluctant to change, prone for sub-optimization, closed and undemocratic. The paradox is that competition and higher expectations from customers are forcing organizations to become more agile, receptive to change, agile, optimized, open and democratic.

To stay competitive I believe that organizations must let more information free internally but also externally, open up more and less formal interfaces to the outside world, encourage networking inside and across organizational and geographic borders, and provide every coworker with state of art communication and collaboration tools. What is even more important is to actively promote an informal consensus-driven culture that encourages experimentation and rewards sharing and mentoring, and to move away from the traditional command-and-control culture where mistakes are punished and hoarding of information is rewarded.


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