Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Decentralising the CEO

I responded to a post in a forum recently about the use and 'abuse' of social networking tools within organisations. The common theme in all these discussions from our HR brethren seemed to be a mass concern at the 'time wasted' using web 2.0 tools and the sheer audacity of the workforce in spending more than a nano second on anything other than work. As I said in a recent post here, if this is your attitude you are missing the point.

When someone asked how we can address the issue my response was to encourage more internal use of the tools, embrace them and recognise the power of them. I'm sure it fell on deaf ears but I'm hoping more people will get to see this excellent article about Cisco that a fellow Twit, (or should that be Tweep?) put me onto. Check it out - http://tinyurl.com/58xxyp I love the concept of decentralising the CEO – after years of successive CEO's decentralising then recentralising their organisations it's about time someone did it to their role. How I chuckled. Justice.

But joking aside, it is the way forward and you should read this article and pass it on. And not just because you might learn something about the way these tools are bringing so much value to the organisation, which they are. More important, and nothing to do with technology, is the social and structural change that is going on inside Cisco.

One of the commenter's refers to the king of corporate democracy, Ricardo Semler of Semco and he is right to draw comparisons. Our organisation structures are based on ridiculously complex and completely outdated concepts and our current situation is testament to that. For many years those that should know better have been poo pooing the notion of shared leadership and devolving decision making, saying it 'just won't work – there will be anarchy'. Such arrogance astounds me.

Semco goes from strength to strength and I'm hoping that Cisco and many others will too. Its a creeping phenomenon that deserves way more air time.

Of course, there are many that will continue to resist, including many from the HR community who I suspect feel threatened by it. After all, in a company that has an ethos of collaboration and support rather than competition and confrontation do we really need such a large HR presence?

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