Is The Organisation Of The Future A Network?

28 August, 2015 Share socially
There is generally a boss who leads, managers who implement the rules and a broader workforce who follow instructions. Efficiency is traditionally measured by how well the rules are met, rather than through levels of creativity, independent thinking and collaborative working.

But since the mainstream adoption of social networking, and more recent thinking around ideas like ‘the learning organisation’ these structures are starting to be challenged.

On social networks there are no hierarchical structures: companies, governments, brands and all institutions are the same. People’s ideas are equal and they can spread and influence others further and faster than ever before.

Furthermore, on social networks people are very collaborative; they tend to unite over all kinds of causes. They like to feel helpful, to know they are part of something bigger and special. For example this is illustrated in the recent campaign: Give Our Dad A Bone (Marrow Transplant) by the three Ireland sisters.


A campaign like #IGiveASpit would not have been as successful if there wasn’t a collaborative medium for this cause to be shared on.

Some corporations have taken notice of this phenomenon and they are gradually changing their structures from ‘vertical’ to horizontal. They see the benefits of human collaboration and they are trying to incorporate this into their cultures. They are recognizing the importance of listening to their employees as this can impact on their reputation. With people being able to express their opinions on social media platforms, companies are more exposed and vulnerable than ever before.

These new organisations know that this radical change will improve the company’s productivity in a very innovative way. By getting more “human” and less “tyrannical”, they really get to know more about each employee & the talents they can offer.

Major companies like Virgin, Zappos, DuPont and General Motors are implementing new ways to empower employees with greater responsibilities. These companies are encouraging employee creativity and giving them more decision making power. They promote team work, collaboration and integration among their people. An example of this is Zappos; they have just announced a move to a radical form of organisational structure called holocracy  – which sees the customer-centric brand dissolve traditional management hierarchies and move to a model of ‘self-management’. This is part of a broader trend, not least emerging from the rise of social networks in the last 10 years, away from the ‘pyramid’ or vertical model of organisational design towards something flatter and more democratic.

As a brand, Zappo’s is committed to being totally customer-centric and has already pioneered ways of working that help it to deliver on this brand promise – doing what many organisations promise but fail to deliver: making brand their central organising principle.

Organisations that work like networks value individuality and the qualities that make us unique. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate traditional ‘top down’ structures and start promoting creativity, individuality and humanity amongst organisations across more sectors. Adopting a more horizontal structure that motivates and integrates people will help do this.

Let’s keep encouraging a future of collaboration and talented networks!

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