Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Stonemasons' Society meets the Organization Man: Social media version

This picture shows Alfred the Great's statue a...Image via Wikipedia
We're headed to a clash of cultures of epic proportion. There are two distinct camps. It's the workers versus management all over again.

One doesn't have to read much of the history of the industrial revolution to know that labor was abused by management, and that labor organized and fought back in a massive way. The rights they fought for weren't secured for many until well into the the 20th Century, and the mantra that drove the labor movement is alive and well today. This saying, ascribed to Alfred the Great  sums it up, “Eight hours work, eight hours sleep, eight hours of play, make a just and happy day. ” This thinking continues today. Work is work and play is play, and never the twain shall meet.

On the other side of the coin we have the Organization Man, a term coined by American sociologist William Whyte in his 1956 book of the same name:

An employee, especially of a large corporation, who has adapted so completely to what is expected in attitudes, ideas, behavior, etc. by the corporation as to have lost a sense of personal identity or independence.

In other words, as the thinking goes, you have no personal life. You work for, and represent your organization 24x7. The concept of the organizational man had died-off of late, but it seems to be making a comeback with the attempt to regulate employees' use of social media. There are a ton of thou shalt nots being written to constrain these emerging technologies.

Therein lies the impending clash. Your desire for a personal life, your eight hours of play, versus your organization's quest to manage and control your every social meda exchange. Most organizations are not comfortable with people representing themselves in places like Facebook, Twitter, and the like. When you speak, they want you to speak for the organization. Speaking for yourself is frowned upon, and if you didn't already know, you wear your organizational hat everywhere you go. You are indivisable.

Neither the Stonemasons' thinking of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, nor the Organization Man's thinking of the 1950s is right for what is happening today. This old thinking is not going to cross the void, it's not going to carry us into the future.

No one knows what the future holds, It is evolving. There are no best practices, or even good practices to help inform our decisions . The answers aren't to be found somewhere between point X and point Y. There's another dimension yet to emerge. 
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

3 comments:

Peg said...

Yeah, no matter how good, best practices are always drawn from the past (and generally compiled by credentialed professionals).

I like thinking we can find models for a possible future by seeking out the positive deviants quietly at work in many corners of everyday life.

Kevin Gamble said...

Yes indeed, past practices work for the simple and complicated space, but fail miserably in the complex.

The positive deviants stuff is most excellent. Thank you for sharing.

Kevin

test said...

The positive deviants concept works well with the stuff we talked about at the end of the Fellow conf call & as a potential population for the Sensemaking study.