I have seen evidence of both organization- and network-centered activities, as I mentioned last week. These activities are seemingly independent of each other. I see tools set up to facilitate member-to-member discussions, problem solving and information sharing outside the confines of the organization. I also see hierarchical control of the flow of information, concurrent with information sharing outside the organizational structure. At times I am perplexed by the disconnect. In thinking about this, I believe that is not so much where activities are centered, but more a reflection of the degree of control desired. In rereading Shirky, I noticed the focus on “running the trains on time.” His examples involve running large, complex organizations. Perhaps it is because my organization has not experienced the kind of rapid growth necessitating a larger hierarchy that there is still a feel of ad hoc-ness about the operation.
I also think back to much larger organizations I have worked for. There was a constant struggle to make things work and the answers developed were many and varied. Shirky says “what ever methods help coordinate group action will spread, no matter how inefficient they are…” That is true from what I have experienced. Successful organizational entities built upon those inefficient methods, but there was always something that was there first, waiting to be improved upon. The changes were driven by necessity and personal commitment to success.