I have been listening to some really interesting conferences via Twitter. I said in my last post how impressed I was by @willmcinnes and colleagues’ Meaning Conference #meaningconf. Yesterday it was the Workplace Trends conference, #WorkplaceTrends, where the Twitter back channel was so interesting.
For me, this comment by @Staffanandre gets to the nub of the matter:
“If management is the issue why talk about the workplace before we fix management?”
Bingo! And in fact, away from the workplace tribe, there are people trying to do exactly that. See @stevedenning’s recent article in Forbes magazine, for example.
My mind zings around making connections and I am sure yours does too. Here’s what I am connecting:
- The image is from a booklet published before penicillin was discovered and is about good hygene.
- This has always reminded me of a great lecturer I had at Warwick, Paul Stoneman. I did one of his electives on the diffusion of new technologies; he suggested that they take the same path as epidemics and follow an ‘s’ curve.
- It seem to me that the explosion of social technologies, adopted with alacrity and without permission outside of organisations – up until now largely for entertainment and now for learning – has followed the epidemic path.
- We know that Path Dependency, rigid mental models and attitudes, and the persistence the Taylorist orthodoxy are barriers to the the diffusion of social technologies within organisations.
- I have been pinning my hopes on the fact that people will use social technologies to share, explore, discover outside of organisations and then take what they have discovered back into their organisations, under the wire, and initiate change through experimenting.
The back channel conversations from #meaningconf and #WorkplaceTrends show that people are indeed eagerly learning. But we continue to discover and explore in silos. @workessence commented yesterday that:
“Interesting that through the whole day at #workplacetrends yesterday, “social business” was not mentioned once – still work to be done.”
Transformational change is transmitted socially, person to person as in an epidemic. If we are not careful though, our allegiance to tribes – workplace, HR, IT, OD (organisational design) etc will be our undoing.
Specialisation, a feature of the Taylorist approach, is a strong feature in how we have all been educated. I think we need to make strenuous efforts to look outside the boundaries of our own specialist knowledge – and the tribes that develop around it.
Go on! Look over the wall. Wot no knowledge? Plenty, as it happens.
See also Granovetter, The Strength of Weak Ties. People who belong loosely to different groups are the ones who help cross-fertilise information. The more we do of that, the more rapid will be the spread of new ideas and new ways of doing business. That really would be social business.