Sunday's WSJ article Online Compliments Can Haunt You, Too by William M. Bulkeley has given me the same unease I felt with Luis Suarez' post Evangelist: Think! The WSJ article and the post both highlight that although we have the technology tools and some of the personal motivation to change our organizations -- it is going to take a long time. Please let this not be true. The WSJ article reports on a lawyer's advice to managers to not provide LinkedIn recommendations for employees (or ex-employees) -- that such a recommendation could be used against the organization in a suit. Every now and then I am sharply reminded about reality. The reality is that our legal context will take a long time to sort out the best policies for these changing organizational and information approaches (I'm including copyright issues as I think about this). Luis Suarez' post opened with a reflection on how, even with all the discussion and both dollar and human investment in Enterprise 2.0, E2.0 hasn't happened yet. He continues with:
So, perhaps it won’t be happening. Perhaps that change we are all anxiously anticipating (And working really hard for), specially those folks who identify themselves as 2.0 evangelists, is not meant to take place at all. At least, in our time! Maybe we are just planting the seed for that change to take place in 20, 30 or 50 years from now! Maybe we are all just trust agents preparing the way for a change we won’t see eventually taking place, nor our kids, nor our grand-children.How long did it take for us to adjust our organizations from an agrarian context to an industrial one? How long will it take to make the adjustment to a context built on Enterprise 2.0, collaboration, seamless response to our information needs, and permeable organizational boundaries? (Interesting IFIP article that talks through the stages from domestication of fire to the domestication of the computer, pdf.) My hope is that organizations constructed on electronic infrastructures are more flexible and amenable to change. Not because the technology is flexible and so the organization must be, but rather because the technology is flexible and has hopefully has created situations where people have learned to be more adaptive because they can be. I'm hoping that our Internet-enabled organizational contexts will allow us to accelerate the pace of organizational adaptation. No, Luis, I won't be happy with a multi-generational pace of change, at least not within my own organization or those I work with. That biased sample (largely Silicon Valley based) can do better and may serve as beacons for others to follow. We have the technology, some of the organizations are on-board, we just need more people to be energized and aware of how to effectively weave the parts into new organizational forms. Perhaps we can increase the pace of organizational change by even more education and support of individuals, as well as managers, in the design of work. Many hands make light the work.