John led off with a discussion of Wirearchy. Jon’s self proclaimed passion is organizations as social systems. In ’96, Jon read Peter Drucker’s article, Beyond the Information Revolution. Drucker concluded that from here on knowledge workers own the future. Whether it takes five years, 10 years or 20 years, eventually knowledge workers will want to share in the benefits of their work. And in fact, if we look at the options boom of the late 90s, this actually arrived much sooner.
Inspired by Drucker’s observations, Husband coined the term “wirearchy” to capture the essence of the new relationships in the connected world in which knowledge really is power and knowledge can be freely shared.
Wirearchy is not about replacing hierarchy. It’s a both/and situation. We will always have hierarchies because most people do not want to work that hard. The issue, however, will be that it sharpens the game for those who do step forward. People can fact check. People can know almost as much as an executive about the conditions in which the organization operates.
Blogging and wikis have accelerated these trends.
Given that Jon was making his presentation in Canada’s capital, it was a sure bet that the question would be asked: How will government cope with the challenge of social media and self publishing? Husband noted that the Public Service Commission has stated that it wants the Government of Canada to become an employer of choice. Can it ever become this if it attempts to restrict the use of social media and maintain the traditional command and control organization? The answer is obvious. The government will be at a disadvantage in attempting to renew its workforce if it attempts to restrict the use of social media within the organization.
In approaching blogging by government, Jon suggests that the discussion should begin with a review of objectives and alternative means to achieve them, including blogs and social media. The discussion must embrace the question of how much control the government wishes to maintain. Early efforts should then proceed as a pilot project with clear guidelines. Without doubt, it will be like introducing a foreign body into the government and there will be some reaction to it.
Jon brought great perspective from outside of the Ottawa government bubble. Thanks for spending an autumn evening in Ottawa far away from Vancouver.
UPDATE: John Sobol has captured the essence of Jon’s presentation much better than I did. John’s post is well worth reading.