I want a British TED – and a parallel show for Luddites

I want a British TED

The world is divided it seems – in to those who watch TED and those who don’t.

I watch TED because I like positivity – I like my daily fix. And I admire technological advancement. I wish we had a British TED too – the best of science and technology that is coming out of the UK.

But is my wonder of TED shared?

It seems strange to me, but so many people don’t share my wonder.  They aren’t interested.  They even proclaim themselves proudly as Luddites.

What bothers the Luddites?

Of course, the original Luddites weren’t just disapproving of new technology.  They smashed  the new weaving presses too.

The people around us who claim they are Luddites, simply don’t understand the technology they decry.  But they don’t stop anyone else using it.

They share with the original Luddites, though, a sense of disapproval.  Most of all, the new technology threatens their status.

Should we bother with Luddites?

I am impatient with people who are ‘tight’.   But all fear is genuine – sincerely and acutely felt.   And I am willing to spend time to help people find a positive place in the world.

What I am not willing to do is hold up improvements for others while they have a sulk.  That’s not on the agenda at all.

The general class of bereavement counseling

When we are counseling people who are fretting about change, we are working with a ‘general class’ of issue – bereavement at the highest level, and adjournment at the level of group formation.

Because disdain of new technology belongs to broader, general class of situations, we have the know-how and experience to help people.  We work through three broad steps.

1.  Acknowledge the contribution they made to our welfare and celebrate the skills they used.  We do this fully, sincerely and elaborately.

2.  Focus attention on the opportunities that are opening ahead of us, and new patterns of relationships with new people who are coming into view.  We are concrete & specific and we introduce them, in person, to people who work in the new technologies.

3.  Help individuals, one-by-one, to formulate a personal plan.  We get down & dirty, one person at a time.

I think we should be bothered with Luddites.  If they cannot see how technological change will benefit them, then we haven’t worked hard enough to show them around the new world that it is coming.

Better Reality TV?  TED and the parallel program for Luddites?

I want a British TED, because I like to watch science, and I want to know the best of British science, up and down the land.

I’d also like to see a parallel program that offers respect for the work of people in ‘old technologies’ and welcomes them into a world that we find dear.

Shall we put reality TV and our license fees to good work?

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Group consciousness: the goal of leaders and organizational theorists

Without good governance, life is solitary poor, nasty, brutish and short

So said Hobbes of countries.  This philosophy also underlies organizational theory.  Without good structure

“.  .  .  organisations, particularly large ones, are not very conscious. There is not some malign [in]efficiency at the core of them, rather semi-conscious shuffles and bodges in various directions, which are beyond the ability of any single individual to do much about. I think that animal-herd behaviour is much the best model to describe collective humanity, however intelligent and aware the individuals within it may be.”

The goals of organizational stewards is to help us be aware at an organizational level

The goal of those of us who are organizational stewards is to create organizations that are aware at an organizational level.  How do we know what we do and the effects of our actions?  This has been the subject of organizational theory since armies began and certainly since Henri Fayol wrote down how to manage the managers in his coal mine at the turn of the century.

The “cleft stick” approach in classical organizations

Until the emergence of the internet, we concentrated on designing the communication systems within the organization on a “cleft stick” basis.  Who spoke to whom?  Who had the right to decide?  Who must be consulted?  Etc, etc.

To bring it all together, we followed the apex of the organization and indeed one of the most important rules of organizational design was showing the link between each person and the person at the “top”.

We all know how well we did on the ‘classical organization project’.  Most organizations were not stewarded well and there was little attempt to manage communication properly.  Even where communication channels were well designed, in reality, information was often not passed around as it needed to be ~ sometimes with horrendous results.

The networked organizations

The internet creates another way to provide group consciousness.  We can all talk to each other directly; and we can use search engines, such as Google to find information much more quickly than ever before.

Google is an example of a company run this way (see Gary Hamel interviewing Eric Schmidt on YouTube).  There is no need for the cumbersome organizational structures of the past precisely because there is another way of creating group consciousness.

New skills for organizational stewards in the networked world

It takes new skills, of course, to develop this raised consciousness.  We are very likely to be savvy as internet users and creators.

  • We also have to understand how to read the results of the internet – judging provenance and the reliability of information.
  • We have to read the mood.
  • We have to learn to influence through this medium.
  • And we have to show that we can deliver results in the ‘real world’ through this new organizational ether.

It is time to develop the curriculum!

Who is in?  These are the questions that spring to my mind.  Who is working in this field?  What are the classical case studies?  What are the central ideas?  What are the best ways of exploring the ideas?

What is the best way of generating consciousness in the field itself?

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

Eric Schmidt talking to Gary Hamel

Listen (no pun intended – 70 minutes).

 

Notes:

Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google.  Gary Hamel is a Professor of Management at Harvard.  Schmidt’s main message is that leaders of innovative organizations like Google must listen, listen, listen.  A good listen!

Can we manage without managers?

Quotations from Gary Hamel’s The Future of Management.

“My guess is that the most bruising skirmishes in the new millennium won’t be fought
along the battle lines that separate one competitor, ecosystem or economic bloc from
another. Rather, they will be fought along the lines that separate those who seek to
defend the prerogatives, power and prestige of their bureaucratic caste from those who
hope to build less structured, less tightly managed organizations that elicit and merit
the very best that human beings have to give.”

“Not surprisingly, most managers believe you can’t manage without managers. This is
the mother of all management orthodoxies”