In the recent two-part article, Restructuring for the social enterprise, I talked about how traditional hierarchy can no longer fit or support how the collaborative enterprise will be shaped. It was then chance which pointed to Lateral Communication and David Andrew’s book from 1984 called The IRG Solution.
I would urge you to read these Wiki articles and follow through on the research because it’s extremely important in understanding how to crystallise the ideas I’ve been postulating before on here in that an enterprise can be organised via a set of networked communities rather than top-down/ bottom-up hierarchies we’re all used to.
In fact, pulling out a direct Wiki reference here:
The term lateral communication can be used interchangeably as horizontal communication. In his text entitled “Organizational Communication,” Michael J. Papa defines horizontal communication as “the flow of messages across functional areas at a given level of an organization”. With this system people at the same level are permitted “to communicate directly without going through several levels of organization”. Given this elasticity, members within an organization have an easier time with “problem solving, information sharing across different work groups, and task coordination between departments or project teams”. The use of lateral or horizontal communication in the workplace “can also enhance morale and afford a means for resolving conflicts.
The problem with hierarchy is that it enforces unnecessary rigidity with the overall control is aims to bestow. There is a hidden network of experts which exist outside of these boundaries in an enterprise which need to be tapped into
As discussed in the article completely independent of the research take went before it the same thoughts:
The most effective enterprise networks contain high-functioning people who are extremely skilled, knowledgeable, powerful, and who have strong personal networks. The informal network without the hierarchy and bureaucracy encourages the most interaction and achieves the most positive results.
Networking has always been an essential social skill founded on the interdependence of people. We all rely on the support and cooperation of others to achieve our goals. Networking within the enterprise involves bonding, sharing expertise and investing time and effort into others. It’s a natural operating model which has remained untapped for years because we always seek comfort in building walls between resources in order to correctly label them.
What we need to do now is start to reexamine the research that has gone before in this new light and impetus that “social enterprise” is bringing. The social software solutions are starting to take us forward again but the internal enterprise structure needs to align with it to really drive the full benefit and change it claims to offer.