Tag Archives: post-bureaucratic age

10 questions about social media in organisations

1. How relevant is Metcalfe’s Law to social networks?

2. If we apply modern neoevolutionary principles rather than C19th, deterministic ones, accidents and free will have an important part to play in social evolution. Does social media enable these and, if so, does social media therefore enable social evolution?

3. How instrumental is social media in creating less hierarchical organisations?

4. How are social tools changing our behaviour, if at all?

5. What is the long-term impact of the type of self-organisation identified by Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody? (We can blog on WordPress, customize our Myspace page, set up a community on Ning…)

6. Are we seeing a new type of hero emerge and, if so, what does that signify? Craig Newmark, Lauren Luke, Barack Obama and (our local hero in London) Lloyd Davis – all these people built businesses/ careers by building a community first.

7. As various factors (environmental, social, political) push for an end to the consumer age, does social media have a role to play in bringing other values to the fore (or does it simply accentuate consumerist values?!

8. How realistic is Jamais Cascio’s idea of the participatory panopticon – can we attempt to control surveillance through sousveillance? Does the Twitter/ Carter Ruck/ Trafigura episode prove we’ve turned a page, or simply that the censors will pay more attention to Twitter next time round?

9. What do we think of the UK Conservative Party’s attempts to embrace the social web? David Cameron has talked about storing NHS records on Google, his advisor Steve Hilton (partner of Google’s Rachel Whetstone) has coined the phrase post-bureaucratic age, former New Labour new media advisors like MySociety’s Tom Steinberg have swapped sides…?

10. We could argue that the many-to-many structure of social networks enables a ‘long tail’ of human opinion to be heard. But can any diverse, ‘bottom-upness’ be sustained, or will it be back to ‘business as usual’ once the Web 2.0 dust has settled? Can the durable Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) ever truly be inversed?


The unbearable lightness of being

Loved this feature on the post-bureaucratic age which Alberto Nardelli pointed out via Twitter. Apparently Stephan Shakespeare, co-founder of YouGov, recently gave a talk on the theory of ‘post bureaucracy’ that has been developed by Conservative party strategist Steve Hilton.

The facts that the Internet enables us all to have access to information that used to be privileged, that we are seeing a democratisation of influence (bloggers and Twitter, for example), forcing increased transparency and accountability in business, combined with a grudging acceptance that centralisation and globalisation no longer hold the answers…all these things mean that the world of work is going to change.

This was something I realised while writing Monkeys with Typewriters, and I can still see it clearly now in pockets of discussion and activity happening all over the place. Life really doesn’t have to be as complicated as we have made it.

Nearly two years back, David Wilcox and I sat down at One Alfred Place to discuss what David was then calling Organisation Lite.Soon after, I interviewed Lloyd Davis, whose Tuttle Club was inspired by Harry Tuttle, the engineer in the film Brazil who wages war against the over-bureaucratic machine.

Tessy Britton, new Chair of the RSA Fellowship Council, has set up a project called Social Spaces – looking to find a flexible rather than prescriptive approach to social change. There’s also the ground-breaking work of the people at consultancy ThinkPublic who had the revolutionary idea of improving public services by simply, erm, asking users what they want.

These are just a few examples of lightness in organisations.

I’m looking forward to giving a seminar next Wednesday at One Alfred Place for SOL-UK – the Society for Organisational Learning. The session kicks off at 6.45pm with a short talk about the conclusions of Monkeys with Typewriters and some background to the key behaviours and trends that emerged from the 50+ interviews I carried out for the book.

Afterwards, there’ll be a discussion about how – and if – social tools have the power to change our business world for the better – and we’ll try to come up with some positive calls to action: what can we do now to help ensure that change actually starts to happen?

I hope the discussion will join some of the dots in the quest to improve the way we work and live. If you’d like to join in, please let me know. I’ve a handful of tickets available at the SOL-UK members rate of £10. Just add a comment below or drop me a line via iKnowHow or Twitter.

Photo credit: Frank Peters