We use cookies and other similar technologies (Cookies) to enhance your experience and to provide you with relevant content and ads. By using our website, you are agreeing to the use of Cookies. You can change your settings at any time. Cookie Policy.
Start a Discussion
Web 2.0

Is social the end of top-down management?

Vote 0 Votes
Chris Taylor raises the question in this blog: Is social the end of top-down management?

17 Replies

| Add a Reply
  • I don't think so.
    The social aspects, if well driven and monitored, are going to improve the effectiveness and the overall expertise of the enterprise, but the final decisions and also the way to exploit the social aspects will be in charge of the management.
    In a sense, Social BPM is the place where top-down and bottom-up are going to meet.

  • Wrote about this 15 months ago, not a new concept and the games industry have been doing it for years too…shame nobody in BPM listened back then, we might be in a different place now…………

    The most effective enterprise networks contain high-functioning people who are extremely skilled, knowledgeable, powerful, and who have strong personal networks. The informal network without the hierarchy and bureaucracy encourages the most interaction and achieves the most positive results.

    Networking has always been an essential social skill founded on the interdependence of people. We all rely on the support and cooperation of others to achieve our goals. Networking within the enterprise involves bonding, sharing expertise and investing time and effort into others. It’s a natural operating model which has remained untapped for years because we always seek comfort in building walls between resources in order to correctly label them.


    Top down management doesn't work in what is becoming a social and networked society and business frameworks really need to adapt and adopt the same ethos, look at the potential benefits:

    > Timely identification of the true Subject Matter Experts and stakeholders without resorting to archaic org charts and structure trees

    > For re-organisations to understand how the business networks interact and translate them into the flexible organizational charts

    > To identify the impact of a key person leaving, both internally and externally

    > For new employees to more quickly integrate into a company by seeking expertise, build relationships and their own networks

    > To understand customer interactions and how better serve them

    > To identify the key influencers within a group

    We really should stop recycling the same info and ideas and just start doing........or someone be brave enough to put their money where their mouth is instead of talking about it in a book.

    As always,
    Yours frustratingly,

  • user-pic

    I think we are confusing two distinct issues in a company's management. You cannot replace a company's management with Social Networks. That's just silly!

    On the other hand, organizations' feedback mechanisms in the past from the market and end consumers have all been very painful - anecdotal information from salespeople, resellers, distributors and consumers who bother to provide feedback and companies who bothered to pay attention to them.

    Now Social networks provide a lighning fast feedback mechanism that is very useful if careful attention is paid to it and very catastrophic if not!. Good positive recommendations on Social Networks have a positive effect in a very slow manner. How many times have you gone ahead and bought that expensive product because a friend was happy with it? On the other hand, negative feedback can poison a company's name very quickly!

    That's why savvy corporations are listening with their ear to the social networks.

  • The discipline of management has a 100 year old history, and is firmly embedded in the existing power structure. It is not going away that easy. I think the same question could even be asked of the impact of social media on governments. Social media will have some democratizing effect, but no major impact.


  • Social will break down the barriers of "silo's" much more than they are a threat to a top down management strategy/culture. So from that perspective, where a top down management philosophy is implemented by leveraging information inequalities it will be affected.

  • There is a saying that “the fish stinks from its head” – and it implies that if an operation does not function properly, the reasons can ultimately be traced to its management hierarchy (that seems also to be the underlying assumption of the Sarbanes–Oxley act). Social has nothing to do with it – Social is about communication and collaboration, not about management and accountability.

    Social might actually accentuate the accountability of management all the way to the top and also provide it with enhanced access to its stakeholders and constituencies, so my take is that Social is a new impulse for better top-down management.

  • I don't believe that structure in large organizations (and large, when dealing with people, may be as few as a few dozen) is a function of technology. It bears the imprint of human nature. People clump together and look for someone to take the reins (except in my family,which is run by a riot of subjective opinion). Management structure, in any form, is emergent.

    Another practical concern is that workers can have access to technology but it's up to a higher strategy to insure it's used correctly.

    So no.

  • I just don't understand the premise for this question, even after reading the blog.

    Did the post office end top-down management?
    Did telephony end top-down management?
    Did email end top-down management?
    Did instant messaging end top-down management?

    Then why would social end it? Social is just another channel that facilitates the same communication that had been happening before with the post office, telephones, email, and IM. Now, will management be impacted by Social? Absolutely, just like it was impacted by other previous advancements in communication styles and technologies.

  • Should social networks really make a lasting impression in a business context, it'll be in the area of process execution and not in process management.

    Guidance, leadership, governance are neither for grassroot democracy nor are they issues for the faceless crowd.

  • Social structure of relationships is not the same as corporate culture defined (in significant part) at the top.

    Social without top-down management is usually ends in anarchy - historical experience.

  • user-pic

    I really like what Tarak Modi said. All things social will definitely impact management and ways of managing will have to be slightly altered to adhere to these new changes, but I would not say that it's the end of top-down management.

  • Social is so distant from top-down management that both have hardly any direct connection. As long as social doesn't come with the authority and means to execute and the resulting annoyance of the customer base bites really into short-term results there won't be an impact for a long time to come.

  • The queen bee shall remain the queen - no matter how much is the buzz below!

  • Social provides a great channel for feedback, holistic perspectives and other ideas that otherwise escape even the greatest minds. Social brings possibility of pulling 'top' egos down and highlights more aspects of the presence (or absence) of 'leadership' to the fore.

    Recoil at the term 'top-down' but till we find better term, that will have to do. The team is composed of many great athletes but we still need someone to lead.

  • I think the answer to this question is that neither top down nor bottom up, self organising processes are sufficient in isolation. I wrote recently about the need to think of organisations in a fractal manner as systems of systems. In this context there is always a need to set goals at each level and to coordinate the outcomes required to realise these goals. This could be considered the 'top down' approach even though the 'top down' control doesn't extend throughout the activities of the whole system but rather is bounded by the scope of setting the outcomes required to realise a particular goal.

    At the same time, however, this process happens again and again at every level - each of the sub-outcomes can be considered as organisations in their own right with their own goals and methods of realising the outcomes.

    So far this approach is independent of tooling and the question becomes how best to enable people to organise themselves to realise the outcomes they have to achieve.

    For me social tools are a way of helping organisations self-organise to realise the outcomes and contribute to the wider goals defined by the system in which they operate. While their required outcomes are bounded by the needs of the wider system (as represented by the needs of customers and the market) they are free to realise these goals in any way they choose. Social tools provide the infrastructure that enables people to collaborate, find information and reach out to customers and other organisations as they work to optimise the realisation of their immediate goals.

  • Usually usageof term The End of... in Information Technology is an exaggeration.
    Social as the end of Top-Down Management is not an exception, so Social is not the end of Top-Down Management.
    Social could be an unformal way of influencing same as other contexts and technology such as Knowledge Management and not a Management practice.
    However, Management who used to be always Top-Down is not always Top-Down sometimes it could be a Matrix.
    The change towards more freedom for employees decisions is derived from the growth of Knowledge Workers number.
    Chris Taylor's post is about BPM, as far as BPM is concerned, Case Management is the driving of less formal Top-Down management of Knowledge Workers' tasks execution.
    Read more at http://avirosenthal.blogspot.com/2011/05/case-management-missing-topic-in-stki.html

Add a Reply

Recently Commented On

Monthly Archives