Jim Grubb (Cisco) talks about the challenges and opportunities of working productively across a networked organization.
[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2011 in Boston. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]
- Organizations are Changing. New organizations rarely have much structure at all. Over time, they organize along functional lines. Later, they may reorganize by type of customer or type of product. However, every time you centralize on product type, you lose the benefits of organizing by customer; if you organize by customer, you lose the benefits of organizing by function. So what happens when you reorganize by geography? Companies can try to organize by a matrix, but this can cause complications.
- What’s a Networked Organization? It doesn’t have an “org chart.” It has a “people chart.” Teams are brought together virtually on an ad hoc basis to address specific problems, regardless if those problems concern function, customer, product or geography. Once they have addressed the problem, they are dispersed to work where the next issue arise.
- How Technology Helps.Technology can help us collaborate and work, both synchronously (which is the traditional approach) and asynchronously. All of this can be done virtually and regardless of organizational, geographical and time barriers.
- Technology is not enough. You need to support the new technology with new processes and culture. And this needs to be tied to clear accountability for improved performance. This also means changing the rewards system to support this new way of working.