COLLABORATION: 
FORMAL & INFORMAL

Organizations are supposed to create value, through organizing the work of individuals and supporting it with various resources (e.g. tools, equipment, data, space, materials).

Working alone, people can create some kinds of value but most kinds require the combined efforts of more people, sometimes many.   

Therefore Collaboration (working together) is the beating heart of all organizations and modern society. What does it look like?

Two different views are important.

  

Easiest to see is the FORMAL "skeleton" - the hierarchy of the org chart, rules and role descriptions. This is the core of the bureaucratic model of management and collaboration. Through much of human history bureaucracy was a key success factor in major civilizations such as the Roman Empire and the Industrial Revolution. 

In

Although bureaucratic management is widely criticized (almost a dirty word) it is still alive and found widely in practice.  But now it is often overlaid in parts with other approaches that try to respond to major social and economic changes, especially more demanding customers, more competition, and more educated workers. 

These other approaches see the importance of INFORMAL relationships at work and seek to benefit much more from the knowledge and intelligence of workers on all levels. In manufacturing firms quality inspectors are out; workers are responsible for the quality of their work. They find better ways to raise quality and efficiency. This goes with a workplace culture of high engagement, org. learning, good morale and respectful relationships.

 

Managing change is very different in each of  these two approaches. On the traditional bureaucratic side they say they will DRIVE change. And on the newer side they seek to cultivate the conditions to GROW the support, skills and engagement of employees to create a "Learning Organization".  [Link]

A start-up, still small, that embraced the Grow approach might function as a "learning organization" (with Adhocracy informal structure instead of bureaucratic formality). 

But after it grows much larger it is likely to become bureaucratic. At large scale managers fear chaos if they don't use bureaucracy for order and consistency. But this sacrifices  flexibility, work satisfaction, engagement, and the  entrepreneurial spirit

 

Here we see a central challenge of modern management:  how to combine these two conflicting principles - Bureaucracy and Organizational Learning

This will lead later to the BOTH/And framework (my theory of Dynamic Capability).

But first let's make sure you saw the page on ORG. LIFECYCLES.  

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