I have described before the role of managers in many ways, often pointing to the risk of becoming ‘information traffic wardens’. The ones managing the valves of the pipes that carry information across the organization. Sometimes they open the valves and the stuff flows. Sometimes they close them, or a little bit, and the information gets stuck.
Indeed this is a pejorative view, but nonetheless a frequent representation of the reality. Valves open or closed, we are all a sort of ‘information traffic warden’. The question I often ask myself is whether in the effort to ‘share’, the sharing itself, a mechanism of the type I-do-because-I-can, takes over the meaning or even the intention of some sort of impact.
Jessica Helfand, designer, artist, academic and author, struck a cord when reading her beautiful book Design: The invention of desire. In one of her chapter she says:
And just what is it we’re sharing? Regurgitated content produced by others? In many cases, we don’t share; we re-share, positioning ourselves not so much as makers but as carriers, aligning ourselves as the purveyors of so much trivia, supporters of the eminently forgettable, participants in a spontaneous assembly line, a delivery mechanism of any number of random things—for what is more terrifying than being alone, staring at a blank screen or empty page, peering head-on into a creative void? Far easier to redesign and retrofit, to appropriate and go from there.
The figure and the concept of ‘the carrier’ made me think. We are all carriers of ideas (good or bad) or behaviours (good or bad). We all share, certainly, as Jessica says, re-share. The alternative is vegetative status, or, in today’s world ‘non participant’. Perhaps a modern version of the idiot, a word that in Old Greece meant ‘non participant’ (in the public life), as opposed to ‘the citizen’, before it degenerated into something related to intelligence.
Modern professionals, idiots we are not, participants and ‘sharers’, yes sir. But what do we carry? How much re-sharing or sharing do we do?
Are we carried away by that effortless possibility at the cost of original thoughts? Just wondering.
Dr Leandro Herrero is the CEO and Chief Organization Architect of The Chalfont Project, an international firm of organizational architects. He is the pioneer of Viral Change™, a people Mobilizing Platform, a methodology that delivers sustainable large scale behavioural and cultural change in organizations, which creates lasting capacity for changeability.
Dr Herrero is also an Executive Fellow at the Centre for the Future of Organization, Drucker School of Management.
An international speaker, Dr Herrero is regularly invited to speak at global conferences and corporate events. To invite Leandro to speak at your conference or business event contact: The Chalfont Project or email: [email protected].
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