June 26, 2011
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I first came in contact with the idea of an alternative form of organizing as a network in April of 1985. I was part of a small-group of early online pioneers who were experimenting with text based group communications. A group of about 50 people met over a long weekend in New York City and agree to create a professional network called the Electronic Networking Association.
Two of the people involved in that meeting were Jeffrey Stamps and Jessica Lipnack. Jeff and Jessica were already writing about network organizations and they have subsequently written several books related to network organizations and virtual teams. In one of their books, The Age of the Network: Organizing Principles for the 21st-Century (John Wiley & Sons, 1996), they started a list of characteristics to contrast a traditional organizational hierarchy with a network organization. Here’s that list:
Traditional Organization Network Organization
Extrinsic purpose Intrinsic purpose
Imposed Control Self-Control
Formal Channels Voluntary Relations
Appointed Leaders Natural Leaders
Formal Jobs Loosely Defined Jobs
Rigid Levels Flexible Levels
Over the years I have made some personal additions to that list that includes the following:
Parent-Child Relationships Adult-Adult Relationships
Need to Ask Permission You Can Act on Your Own Initiative
Someone Promotes You You Promote Yourself
Work for Someone (boss) Work with Others (colleagues)
Position and Title Oriented Relationship and Bandwidth Oriented
Big Power Low-Power
Big Muscle Big Brain
King and Council Model Network and Node Model
In future notes I will discuss some of these characteristics further. Do any of these concepts resonate with you? Do you see them in changing cultural norms? Do you have any examples of network organizations that you are part of, or that you have observed?
I look forward to your comments and links to related information.
Thanks – Chairman Ed
PS I am still learning about the WordPress blogging software and I do not know how to make two well ordered columns. Tab keys do not seem to work.