In the course of history we have been through so many changes. Some people went swiftly in accepting; while some went against all odds just not to adapt. As I read Wikinomics, every now and then I look back and always find myself amazed of how much everything in our world has changed and is changing.
Then I also realized, in every change that is happening there are some who will not be open and will still cling to the old ways. A techie person would ask, “Why don’t these people accept these gadgets and Wikis and stuff? These advances make our lives easier!” I won’t be mainly talking about New Social Media per se, but I would like to delve in why people, especially people in corporations, are afraid of Peer Production; the newest trend in adaptive organizations.
Two factors are discussed in the reading. Institutional inertia and the elderly workforce. First off, rules, routines, and norms-all that is traditional- are difficult to change or to let go. It is just like in almost everything wherein we are hesitant to let go of something that has been with us for a long time. I remember our MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority) case study last year regarding communication tools. They are, in all sense, traditional. The agency is a big fan of traditional communication tools and claims that these are all effective. The group understands that the agency, and others as well, might really find these tools effective, but we cannot ignore the fact that if they just give new social media tools a chance then more likely than not, this agency and others would be more effective and efficient. Second, the elderly workforce may resist these technological advancements. They may be afraid of the unknown, and everything that is not on their sight on their generation.
But the way I see it, non acceptance of technology, Peer Production in particular is because of some other factors and reasons as well. These are implied on the readings. I find it interesting to expound on them.
Managers are afraid to lose control over their employees. Since peer production lets people do their job the way and in a setting that is most convenient to them, management’s control is set to the minimum. Power is not their monopoly anymore. Employees will not be under you because their concern is to find results on the company’s problems no matter how and what it tolerably takes. Are you this kind of manager? Maybe, it’s time to change your mindset and see that control and power is not everything. Control and power with an inefficient and dying organization is useless.
Managers are afraid to lose control and authority on decision making. Peer production requires collaboration between people. And here the decision also not lies on the manager’s hand alone. Questions can come from all directions, and solutions and decisions too, can spring out of these interlocking and interrelated discussions. Here and in the first one, the key word is DECENTRALIZATION. One word that traditional managers are afraid of.
Managers are afraid that competitors might get access to their trade secrets. This is I think the main reason why companies make themselves impenetrable. They are so much up to competition that they shut their company from the outside world; “What is ours is ours alone”. Because peer production loosens and nearly erases all these organizational boundaries and make companies and outside people in the same playing field as collaborators, it is understandable why managers are afraid. Spies may get in easily and get access to their companies’ most kept possessions. Peer production also requires that you give out company information and maybe some tricks of the trade to the public. Traditional managers don’t want that.
But the thing that some managers don’t see is that in their shutting their companies to the outside world they are also shutting their companies to potential people, and reliable information that is what they might be really looking for. The value that they don’t see is that of collaboration. Of discussion. More input is more output. And the more problems can be solved and the more questions can be answered. And, the more things can be discovered.
This quote is already a cliche but I love it still: “The only permanent thing in this world is change.” True. When we look at history books, when we browse at science books, when we look at any book or just ask the people around us to give a thought or two about the time then and now, one concept always rises; CHANGE.
I, a student, can see how technology can boost our organizations and make people come together. Given that people of power-and everyone-use technology and new social media, and peer production wisely and responsibly, I can see a win-win situation for everyone. Maybe it’s about time managers see these, with a mind that is not self-biased; and with eyes that are open, eager, and wanting to see. Only then can they be convinced to walk through the doors of technology.
“Technology may open doors, but it can’t force people to walk through them.” –Tapscott and Williams, 2006