The end of hierarchy? (3)

By Sebastian Thielke Apr 15, 2016
The end of hierarchy? (3)

Translation of the Original Article by Sebastian Thielke 

Under Wirearchy several different strands are discussed at the moment. The unifying element is the finding that decisions must be made in the right places. And that this will rarely be held within the hierarchy, for understandable reasons.

Picture: Oliver Tacke - Think-Pair-Share on Flickr. Use under the conditions of Creative Commons - BY (Attribution).


On Thursday, April 21st 2016 a Digital Workplace Meetup with the title “The end of hierarchy? New organization models of the future”will take place in Berlin at the "St. Oberholz Zehdenicker", which is supported by us. Detailed information is here.

We want to deliver content issues and discussion events with four short articles. There will be the following four brief blogposts:

     1.     Why the end of hierarchy will come.

2.     The era of corporate democracy  or: How Andreas Zeuch sees it.

3.     Wirearchy – So that decisions are made at the right places.

4.     Next Organization: Which organizational models are currently in vogue.

Following the Meetups there will be again positioning and a summary provided by us at Beck et al. Services.



Wirearchy ...

The term Wirearchy was coined and brought into play in 1999 by Jon Husband. His reflections are easy to understand: the digital revolution eventually leads to networked organizations. Companies cannot refuse this remodeling of structures. At the same time, it turns out that information has usually taken different paths anyway than foreseen in hierarchical organizations. Almost legendary are the findings on informal paths and virtual and real communities of practice just beyond the hierarchy. From these developments out John Husband proposes the design to create networks from the outset what he just called Wirearchy - in delimitation and as counter translation for hierarchy. Accordingly, he describes Wirearchy as "dynamic flow of power", which no longer arises hierarchically, but must be obtained on the principles of information, trust and credibility.

Jon Husband coined the term Wirerarchy which triggered the discussion about the goal of digital transformation. He will be connected live during the event.

Picture: kris krüg - BlogWalk Seattle 2005 - Jon Husband on Flickr. Use under the conditions of Creative Commons - BY-SA (Attribution usage under identical conditions).


Hierarchy vs. Roles

"If anything, wirearchy is about the power and effectiveness of people working together through connection and collaboration … taking responsibility individually and collectively rather than relying on traditional hierarchical status."


In my eyes, Wirearchy represents more a transformation model, than an idea of the structure of a digital organization. A model where management ways, behavior and actions as well as organizational structures are adapted to the digital requirements and certainly realigned quite disruptively. To connect back to Part 2: Roles are defined in the projects and teams that are in charge of task execution. These roles can and must be filled by different people and especially within a limited timeframe. Driver of this model is the open Internet, which allows models of social cohesion and especially of social collaboration, both globally, as well as internally.

... so that decisions are made in the right places

A Wirearchy is made possible by the close digital connection between man and technology. The digital revolution empowers therefore that the projects and teams determine independently and democratically, namely through elections, the people to fill the role e.g. as the respective management functions. Digital disruptive it is possible to settle the decisions where they usefully also have to be taken. What can be learned from the debate on Wirearchy as a transformation model is that the transfer of competences to the employee must have consequences for the "blueprint" of the organization. In Part 4 of this small series, it comes full circle, and therefore concludes that the discussion on democratic enterprise is not an end in itself.

We are looking forward to a discussion – virtually or on April 21st in Berlin!

About the author

Sebastian Thielke Consultant Digital Transformation
Social Business and Enterprise 2.0 - Strategy Development, Enablement, Communications and Value added with the main focus on: People form the company.

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