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Gill Blog

Friday, February 11, 2005

New Organizational Structures in the Knowledge Economy

As we expand upon and fine tune the concept of workplace continuity, we see a noticeable shrinkage of the white space that separates a number of distinct operational silos. I am writing this note from a coffee shop after having an extended meeting with my friend Errol Saldanha. Errol is one of the world’s foremost authorities on branding, and we often meet to discuss how the underpinnings contemporary working culture are shifting, and thus impacting our own work.

We just spent over three hours discussing and debating the finer points of strategy – I am currently in the midst of a major renovation of my platform, and looked to Errol for some valuable input (come back and take a peek at our new site next week). One of the particularly interesting topics we mulled over was how a gradual shift to a knowledge-based economy would force enterprises of all sizes to reconsider their basic organizational structures.

In particular, we agreed that one of the fundamental hallmarks of the industrialized economy was the master-servant dynamic - in fact, this type of dynamic has often been at the root of most conflicts within the workplace. Its very structure is calibrated to a production-oriented model – i.e. so many inputs of labor yield a defined output of product – so we had to ask question its survivability as we wade further into an economy that becomes more knowledge-oriented. In fact, we predicted like so many things, this will join the ranks of the buggy whip and slide rule in no time. If it does, how does it bode for the future of the organization?

The key would be to create a collaborative network of specialists in key functional areas, who can be deployed at a moment’s notice to a client assignment. Technology is king within this structure, and this in turn affects the bricks and mortar strategy in the sense that the need for real estate changes as this network is spread across a wide geographic area.

As workplace continuity strategies are increasingly adopted by organizations, the one stop shop structure gradually loses its ability to compete against a virtual S.W.A.T. team of always ready professionals.


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