Organizational Change: from whales to networks

Traditionally, when an organization grows up it usually becomes like a whale: slower and less adaptive to the environment.

The question is whether or not organizations can be both bigger and faster, … and the answer is yes, but they need to be reconceived as networks: when networks become bigger, they also become more versatile and creative.

How can an organization change from a whale-like behaviour to a network-like behaviour? We have to:

  1. Build Relationships
    The first step is to build more relationships and connections between departments and teams that previously had never worked together. Create more interactions between the teams.
  2. Establish shared purpose
    People need a reason to work together, to share information between nodes, between teams. We have to work like a neural network, like a brain, helping each other because we are solving a common goal.
  3. Create shared consciousness
    To get where we are going, we first have to know where we are; we must ensure that everyone is acting on the best available information.
  4. Encourage dissent
    Instead of being chastised for expressing a contrary or unpopular view, team members are reprimanded for withholding it. Individuals are incentivized to present counterpoints, creating an environment safe for the free exchange of ideas.

Summing-up: new challenges require new thoughts. Big organizations can also be adaptive to change if the become a network, a “team of teams“, where the different dispersed teams are constantly connected, gathering data from across the network and pushing out the information to whomever is best positioned to take swift and effective action. As the brain adapts itself to the changes, a network-like organization can respond faster to new challenges.

These Notes have been taken from:

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