Chairman Ed

Connecting people, ideas and processes

Tag Archives: rhode island school of design

Network Organization Concepts and Tools

I am continuously looking for information that gives some indication of the development of tools and concepts related to new organizational forms, particularly network organizations.

I recently came across the TED video of a presentation by John Maeda, the president of Rhode Island School of Design. Although the video makes a number of interesting points about art, creativity and technology, two particular items related to network organization stood out for me.

His two column list from the video, shown below, contrasts two styles of leadership, Authoritative and Creative. For me, the list also reflects two styles of organization, hierarchical and network. This list is about the person and a similar list I produced in this earlier entry of mine contrasts characteristics of the organizational form.

Authoritative Leader Creative Leader
Symbol of Authority
More Sticks
Hierarchical
Linear Path
Plan and Execute: Launching with 1.0
Sustaining Order
Yes or No (clear)
Literal in Tone
Concerned with Being Right
Think like a General or Conductor
Delegates Actions
Closed System
One-Way
Close the Ranks
Follows the Manual
Loves to Avoid Mistakes
Reliability
Orchestra Model
Community in Harmony
Wants to be Right
Open to Limited Feedback
Your Opinion Matters
Symbol of Inspiration
More Carrots
Networked
Nonlinear Path
Iterate and Do: Living in Beta
Taking Risks
Maybe (comfort with ambiguity)
Metaphorical in Tone
Concerned with Being Real
Think like an Artist or Designer
Hands-On Driven
Open System
Interactive
Permeable
Improvises when Appropriate
Loves to Learn from Mistakes
Validity
Jazz Ensemble
Community in Conversation
Hopes to be Right
Open to Unlimited Critique
What are You Really Thinking?

In the TED video at about 12 minutes, John Maeda demonstrates a software tool that provides ways to make the network of relationships within an organization apparent. It appears to be an interesting combination of network organization diagram and functions and skills that can be hidden or made visible based on the view you desire.

He seems to be realizing that organizational authority is changing, and he is experimenting with ways to put these realizations into practice. But, he is still trapped by the restrictions of the hierarchical organization he heads and all of the behaviors that are expected of him in his traditional role. He is advancing the cause of this new way of working, and organizational form, and he is also making it obvious that there is a long way to go before we understand the tools and behaviors necessary to fully benefit from network organizations.

Have you seen any similar information that illustrates concepts or tools related to network organizations?