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I am interested in exploring how workplaces are actually changing (not the hype). This blog is my place for thinking out loud about what I see happening - or not happening.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Standing On The Corner, Watching All The Trends Go By

Episode Two - The Barricades are Breached!

Yesterday's post mentioned how some businesses are blocking access to social networking sites. Well, the indicators are that this strategy might not work. Here's why I think resistance is futile:

(a) Ralph Stacey says that shadow systems in organisations are where those who have not been given formally sanctioned authority take control for themselves. Shadow systems can be destructive or creative - it depends on prevailing organisational cultures and how people are treated. Politics, jockeying for position, cliques, cabals, skulduggery, the exercise of subversive power, resistance, creativity, collaboration - it's all there in the dynamic shadow system. And management cannot control it.

People will connect and communicate at will and as they see fit, with or without technology. If it is with technology, and access to social networking sites is prohibited, people can easily engage outside the organisational firewall using their mobiles.

(b) If we accept that it is probably (though not exclusively) young people who use social networking sites, then another reason why businesses may be forced to live with social networking sites is that skilled young people are scarce. They therefore have bargaining power. Block access to social working sites? What sort of signal does that give off about a potential employer? Ah, we'll just go and work somewhere else.

This article quotes someone as saying that “the Facebook generation will wipe out the command control infrastructure in business today". That is exactly the sort of unsubstantiated hype that sets my cautious academic teeth on edge. Still, I think the indicators are that contingent factors will be persuasive in increasing the take-up of Web 2.0 technologies (bearing in mind what Andrew McAfee was saying about the division between those businesss who 'get it' and those who do not).

The article says that 'the youth market' is 100% of the future market for sales of communications services and products". Young people are also 100% of future managers, which makes it more likely than not the the barricades will be breached.

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