Joe’s Journal: On the Networked Society

“For well over a hundred years, all developed countries were moving steadily toward an employee society of organizations. Now the developed countries, with the United States in the lead, are moving fast toward a Network Society in respect to the relationship between organizations and individuals who work for them, and in respect to the relationships between different organizations.

Most adults in the U.S. labor force do work for an organization. But increasingly they are not employees of that organization. They are contractors, part-timers, temporaries. And relations between organizations are changing just as fast as the relations between organizations and the people who work for them. The most visible example is ‘outsourcing,’ in which a company, a hospital, or a government agency turns over an entire activity to an independent firm that specializes in that kind of work. Even more important may be the trend toward alliances. Individual professionals and executives will have to learn that they must take responsibility for placing themselves. This means above all they must know their strengths and look upon themselves as ‘products’ that have to be marketed.” – Peter F. Drucker

Peter Drucker was ahead of his time still again in this passage. [EXPAND More] The Networked Society not only showed itself “big time” in Al-Qaeda’s coordination of various terrorists plots, monstrously in the case of 9/11, which was enabled by e-mail and the Internet, but the revolution in Egypt was coordinated using sophisticated social networks, such as Facebook. Some of us are “close” network kind of people and others are “wide” network people. But, networks have changed the way we relate to one another politically, socially and economically. They have changed our behavior and in the process have changed us! President Obama used the Internet to his competitive advantage in the 2008 campaign, and it is now second nature in political campaigns. To make networks work effectively there must be trust among parties in the network. Networked organizations are what Drucker called “Systems Organizations.” They depend on maintaining good relationships through communications. And effective communications require trust. Network requires more knowledge of relevant technology. But it enables us to reach many more people with our message if it is a trusted message. Maintaining privacy is a major concern. So, in addition to knowing our strengths and our values in order to develop and place ourselves well, we should be familiar with tools that help us to place ourselves and to be productive. On July 4th and 5th, I was one of the primary speakers at a conference in Krakow, Poland, and I did it from a conference room in Saratoga Springs, New York, where I work for much of the summer. My participation was coordinated by two people in Krakow who are “networked colleagues” of mine. At the end of the conference, one of them looked into the camera and gave me advice on my work that is invaluable. Amazing! It was as though I was right in the room, but not jet-lagged. Think of the future implications for education as it becomes more technology-enabled and networked. Get ready for even bigger challenges and opportunities. Make sure you know what you’re about. Good luck.

– Joe Maciariello