Can we organize without organization ?

In a previous post I was wondering if we were heading to what I called a project or a partnership economy. In the same way, after meeting Don Tapscott and read “Wikinomics”, the idea came to me that we could soon experience a reverse application of Coase’s theorem. Nothing but logical : if high transaction costs made organization become larger, low transaction costs on immaterial capital may cause exactly the opposite.

This is exactly the theme of an interesting discussion that emerged on Transnets[fr], following the reading of Here comes everybody.

Good timings as it’s an issue I’m heavily thinking about, wondering how far things could go, with the benefices and potential excess this global trend may cause. Transnet’s commentators notice it may have very negative social issues. Interesting, as it seems to me that when in some countries people see the interest of getting organized without organization, people here think in terms of unenployements and risk of being fired. French way of thinking? 😉

Whatever, let’s keep our feets on the ground : not everybody will be concerned. The only point is that those who’ll potentially decide to work outside the organizations are the very ones companies would like to keep onboard.

I think a median way can be found, between what Shirky proposes and what we experience now. But how would this median way look like ?

Perhaps this kind of “non organization” can be organized within the enterprise, through an intraprenurship system for example. It may sound vague but I have some ideas and a concept about that…I’ll submit it to you in a few weeks.

The risk is if companies don’t manage to build such a system inside : in this situation nobody knows what can happen. Perharps people will leave…perharps companies will externalize…no one can say.

Anothor point that emerges from Transnet’s comments, is the need for hierarchy because at one moment decisions have to be made. Not sure it’s a matter of decision making, according to me it’s ration about responsability or liabilité. Hierachy is necessary but perharps it will have to express itself in a new way : giving up the notion of position-related power to embrace the emergence of a contractual power which is the power that contracting parties have the one on the other. This would implie a new role for companies : organizing the value chain, mobilizing talents from the outside. But is this really new ? We already have on step in this system, don’t we ?

Whatever, this leads us to a first conclusion : even if individuals can organize themselves outside organizations, it doesn’t call into questions the very existence of companies as arrangers. It’s just about juridical link.

Finally, whatever we can do, alone or in group, within or inside the enterprise, force us to organize. Formally or informally we submit to rules, sometimes suffering from them, sometimes without realizing they exist. And what if the question, at the end, was about free or forced submission to rules

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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