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The old view of the organization is something close to the old concept of a medieval city, where citizenship was defined by inhabiting and dwelling within an area defined by the castle’s walls. The new view of the organization is similar to the concept of a modern city, where citizenship is defined by moving around a network of communications (in multiple directions with multiple connections) with very permeable borders, if any. Nodes in this network are both destination and point of departure simultaneously.

The ideogram of the old city is the enclosure; the ideogram of the old organization is the organization chart. The ideogram of the new city is the underground map, the rail network or the highway chart; the ideogram of the new organization is the network.

The citizen of the old organization lives in a box on the organization chart, only occasionally getting out of the box to talk to another resident in a bigger box called ‘team’. The citizen of the new organization is a rider of the network, moving around and talking to other loose connections, some with stronger ties than others. Three ‘B’s reign in the old organization: boss, boundaries and bonuses. Three ‘Is’ reign in the new organization: influence, inter-dependence and innovation.

Having acknowledged that the hierarchical organization with its functional silos (which can be visible in companies of 5 million or 50 employees) had a bit of a problem in cross-communication, but not willing to kill the power silos altogether, the invention of the matrix as a cross-functional way of working was inevitable. It became a language key (we have a matrix system) and a clever hierarchical plot (I have two bosses: one local and the other global). And the matrix became a very, very large petri dish for team meetings.

It was invented as a way to force people out of their dwellings to work together with other people (who were also forced out of their dwellings). It sometimes seemed that the conversation between them was temporary and long enough for somebody to look at his watch and exclaim: “Oh, my God, so late already! I need to get back; bye!” And back to their boxes, they went…

“We don’t need more team players. We need riders and navigators. Big time!”

What does this mean? Well, riders of the network navigate through connections inside and outside the organization. They lead from their own connectivity and ability to imagine their world as a vast, mostly undiscovered space. They are relationship builders, not team builders. They may not have a problem with teams and may even belong to some. But they tend to regard teams as the new silos.

Riders have meetings as well: 365/24/7 meetings. They are ‘meeting up’ all the time. It is their very ‘raison d’être’. Riders want networkracy, not teamocracy. These new leaders will take the organization to territories where ‘the answers’ might be found and will do so via relationships, not through processes and systems. They are social-intelligent: a rare characteristic, often invisible in many layers of management or even in top leadership.

This is how you advertise for Riders:

“We’ve done the team stuff. We have lots of it, and it works well, thank you.

We are looking for (social-intelligent) people who can establish a web of internal and external relationships. Management has promised to keep a relatively low profile and let them roam freely.

We acknowledge that, occasionally, we will have the temptation to declare some of them ’a team’, but we promise we will refrain.

We are particularly interested in people who founded a club at 11 or created a football team at 17.” 

Or something like that.

Learn more about our thinking here.

Or reach out to my team with specific questions via [email protected].

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