It is surprising how little most leaders, managers and know about the networks they inhabit. The overbearing focus on management, processes and managerialism is harmful. The evolution to networks and open leadership is essential.
Of course, fixed structure and deliberate control are important elements of the smooth operation of many business activities. They are best left to the operations managers, process engineers and transactions control people. These people are important, but are really only a modest fraction of the modern enterprise ecosystems.
Social networks are the foundation of open leadership, The Social Enterprise and productive business ecologies. An important conceptual model is The Social Enterprise Stack and Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model.
Management, control and architecture are important to layers 1-7. It makes things interoperate. In addition, applications (ERP, CRM, SCM) play an important management, control and architecture role at layers 8,9,10 (applications).
However, as you move further up the abstraction model, layers 11,12,13, things begin to change. Conventional management, specific architecture and rigid control give way dramatically; they lose effectiveness, interfere and become a distinct burden. At these layers, they are quickly supplanted by leadership, narrative, conversation, interpretation, visualization, governance, intangibles, optimization, informal & ad hoc networks, in short, networks and complexity. Open leadership carries the day.
The specific reason for the OSI model is so that each layer property can communicate with its corresponding layer –completely independent of medium or implementation. This is the critical principle. Sadly, it is lost on most people, particularly those believing canonical architectures and robust management are how things get organized.
For example, even though TCP/IP doesn’t map very well to the OSI model, the protocol and the open model accommodate the seamless internetworking of billions of computers and devices.
Quite honestly, it is precisely because these higher-order layers go unmanaged and uncontrolled in the conventional sense, that the Internet and the WWW exhibits complex properties. Frankly, it is what makes the Internet/WWW so useful to so many people and for so many purposes. Open leadership is essential.
Recall the ‘has-been’ network companies like DEC and IBM with their rigid, managed, controlled network ‘architectures’ (SNA, DECNet). They and many others aggressively resisted open systems for years. They were highly dismissive of open networks. They paid a very dear price. Others, like HP, embraced openness and multi-vendor internetworking. The rest is history. Indifference to the social network reorientation of work and wealth will have similar consequences.
Not surprisingly, these same folks rejected the critical progeny of OSI – open source, open systems and open content. It was precisely because of these open models depend heavily on social networks, complexity, leadership and open collaborative governance. The dharma of open networking is essential to achieving the advantages of enterprise networks and far greater prosperity.