Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Hierarchies are oversimplifying complex things

After I started working as a Scrum Master back in my times. I felt, that there is something really dysfunctional about our workplaces. Still I was not able to put my finger on it. There was an excellent talk by Kati Saarikivi about Work as learning, meaning and interconnectedness in my previous company where I worked. In the talk there was something mind blowing and it has been puzzling me ever since.

Here comes the idea in brief:

By nature, people are creating human networks dynamically. Pretty much same way as neurons are working in brains. In other words we (group of people) organise ourselves automatically to correspond to the changing environment.

During that time, I was working as an Agile Coach and of course I started to think, how this idea reflects to companies which I have been working with. If you have ever worked in corporate, you know that organisation change is something which is constant... every year.

So this was my first tought out of it.
Workplaces nowadays does not really support this natural way of forming. If we think about all the "fun" stuff, what is happening, like policies, rules, hierarchies and matrix organisations. I came to this one.
and this one.

But I was not quite happy yet. What is the reason, why is it like this? The final piece came from Duarte Vasco, he tweeted like this.

We are trying to make sense to these complex things. How to do it? We try to categorise things. Introduce different kind of boxes with different functions. Oversimplify things with the hierarchies and matrix organisations.

So what should we do? A change in paradigm is required which makes it hard. We should embrace the environment which nurtures adaptive social networks.We should not create any artificial borders or roles. And we should not be bothered about the fact that the situation changes all the time. And above all, enjoy working together!

And how this reflects thing like Agile methods and frameworks? Kids, that's an another story. :)


  1. This is one reason why Enterprise social tools will change the way we work, they allow and encourage these networks and connections and they break down the hierarchies.

    It will be some time before things like HR catch up with the traditional career / reviews / management, by then the workforce will have changed and they will be forced to change.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      That's true. This ship is really hard to turn. Anyway, when more people are thinking differently, more faster world will change.