Six years ago I wrote a post about what the connected company looks like. Many of the ideas in the post are worth revisiting in light of more recent conversations about new forms of organized work. Which is why the term organization is more descriptive of the direction of current vectors.
I've made edits to the post.
The Internet has changed the scale at which we can observe and participate in activities that express our nature — that of being social. Tools to access information and each other, even measure ourselves have become more ubiquitous. Thanks to smartphones, the computers in our pockets, more people are joining in across social status, geography, age, etc. Disruption to business models follows the rapid technology adoption and location-independence.
Before the Internet, companies were the center of our active social lives — we arranged where we lived and played to be around where we worked. Businesses often replaced the local community as the center of our attention and time spent.
Companies have continued their progression toward the most efficient possible version of themselves without the injection or re-insertion of the human voice in them. Many have done such a good job of exploiting the resources at their disposal — human or otherwise — that they have, in fact, become socially useless.
Yet the organization with its ability to make and keep collective promises has not run out of juice — it needs a radical tune up.
Enter the connected organization
The connected organization is not merely the company that lets its employees get on social and be social, though that might be part of what the change it sorely needs. A connected organization is one that places importance and value on people and ideas.
There may be only 150, well, yes, for some of us even up to 400 connections, we can manage to pay attention to, nurture, and care for closely. For the rest, we scale by team and networks.
There have been many conversations over the years about what that connected organization looks like.
The character and make of the connected organization
(1.) Joining a connected organization happens by network, attraction, and invitation
This is valid at all levels. Value creation needs to be something everyone understands. Umair Haque talks about thick value, Auren Hoffman describes it as A-player behavior. Kathy Sierra talks about helping people kick ass.
Add love to respect and trust. Love is a better alternative to fear — it teaches us empathy, a rare quality that is missing in many and yet has become increasingly valuable in business. A better alternative to the culture of scarcity and exclusion is an attitude of abundance in inclusion.
(2.) Working in a connected organization means learning, growing, and giving growth to others
It happens by design, by example, and by practice. It doesn't matter which department or job function we're in. Education, training, and interaction create the formula for thinking while doing together.
Walk into any office of any company today and what do we see? Dis-connected people trying to keep up with email — or staring at a screen rather that looking each other in the eye. Why? People do not feel they can contribute and make a difference.
(3.) Collaborating in a connected organization means using the best tools for the best results
A connected organization hires good people then trusts and respects them. In fact, it respects them every step of the way even when not hiring them. Flexibility is a two-way street because work depends more on potential collaborations and results than putting butts in seats.
In this respect, connected (or creative) cities are more resilient than organizations. Place matters, but not in the sense it used to as destination. Conversation remains one of the best tools for shaping understanding — whenever possible, we should be in favor.
(4.) Implementing in a connected organization means managing energy and not time
In The Power of Full Engagement Jim Loher and Tony Schwartz say managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance. To make smart trade-offs we should start by defining our purpose, then distilling our truth, so we can identify the gap between the two.
A good question to get started “How are we spending our energy now?”
(5.) Facilitating conversations inside and outside the connected organization means designing business through interactions
The term interactivity has become a computing buzzword, but its meaning illuminates an ultimate goal — to create a totally immersive experience. It also infers a correlation between things carrying the ultimate goal of human communication.
When we look at the information architecture of an organization what do we see? What are the interdependencies? If interactions are designed to be transformative experiences, then the business where the interactions occur, will be transformed.
This is as much about trying a different approach as it is about stopping the non productive practices.
Partnering with like-minds, integrating external collaborators, building teams of practice are all in service to value expressed as the business of the connected organization. People are looking for a company that will join them. This is the connected organization.
Character is built on the choices we make. We can control character. Character creates reputation. Reputation in turn builds trust and credibility.
Connected is a depth thing. Many organizations take the heart out of you. The people who do connection put it back.
It's our job to care.
[image the Internet Splat Map]