Bringing Technology Into the Core

October 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Recently at the Web of Change Conference at Hollyhock in British Columbia, there was a session on “Organizational Transformation,” facilitated in large part by Sam Dorman and Jason Mogus (with some thoughts thrown in by Gibran Rivera and myself). In large part, the session was discussing the ways in which organizations are wanting to incorporate technology and social media into their operations and need to shift structures and cultures to do so. Sam and Jason described that many organizations have traditionally been organized so that these functions were siloed into either a technology/IT function or a communications function – and often brought in after direction was set and strategy was developed as the way to spread the word. What has become clear is that this approach not only doesn’t work, but REALLY REALLY doesn’t work. It’s critical for the folks creating the technology strategy to be integrally involved in development of direction and strategy – not just the add-ons that come later.

One of the big questions at Web of Change was how do you do this? It’s a question about how you actually change the culture of an organization, once you’ve identified the direction you want the culture to head. We talked about the model of a collaborative organization – changing from traditional hierarchical organizations to a collaborative model (one of the things IISC works with organizations regularly to do). Gibran then started talking about how, in actuality, much of what’s being done technologically needs to be replicated in person – dispersed leadership, emergent thinking and self-organized, network approaches rather than centralized, hierarchical decision-making. So the question is: what would it take to really unleash the potential of individuals to create and implement projects that bring about real change – and what organizational structure would support this?

There are some experiments. As Marianne described in a recent post on this blog, Google is messing around with some of what can be done. And, in fact, IISC is starting a change process – working with Leda Dederich to create a technology strategic plan and rethink how technology is used and incorporated into our work. We’ll certainly share more as we move along with Leda (and will ask her to pitch in with her experience as well.) But in the meantime, I’ve been wondering about what other models you may know about. Who’s doing what to bring technology into the core of what you do – while deepening the face-to-face connections between people? We all need to learn more about how to do this!

PS: As an aside, if you’d like to follow the tweets of the Web of Changers from 2009, you can easily add them all by going here, scrolling to the bottom, entering your twitter username and password and hitting “follow”. It’s an amazing group!

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