Esko Kilpi on Interactive Value Creation

The art of interaction, the design of digital and the science of social complexity

Category: New value creation

Kohtaamiskyky on tärkein kilpailutekijä

Jokaisen yhteisön kehittyminen on kiinni siitä, miten erilaiset ihmiset ja ajatukset kohtaavat ja mitä näistä kohtaamisista syntyy. Usein ei synny mitään mutta joskus maailma muuttuu. Liike yhdessä eteenpäin edellyttää kaikissa tapauksissa kykyä kohdata, neuvotella ja kykyä sopia: sopimuksia siitä mistä puhutaan, tai mistä pitäisi puhua, mikä on tärkeää ja mikä on vähemmän tärkeää? Työyhteisöt ovat myös sopimista siitä, kuka tekee päätöksiä, mitä vaihtoehtoja on olemassa ja mitä lopulta valitaan.

Ongelmat syntyvät kun uskomme, että juuri meidän näkökulmamme ja meille tärkeät merkitykset ovat yhtä lailla tärkeitä myös muille. Emme näe aitoja ympärillämme ja niitä värittyneitä laseja, joista kaikki katsovat maailmaa, myös me. Mikään tuotoksemme ei ole objektiivinen fakta, vaikka mediateollisuus on pitkään näin omista sisällöistään väittänytkin.

Olemme ehkä hyviä ilmaisemaan itsellemme selviä asioita itsellemme, mutta ilman vuorovaikutuksessa tapahtuvaa asioiden avaamista ja tulkitsemista, ne merkitykset, joita herätämme muissa ovat jotain aivan muuta kuin mitä kuvittelemme niiden olevan. Olemme silloin kompromissien ja nollasummapelien vankeja. Voimme puhua jostain asiasta kuukausia pääsemättä yhtään minnekään, kuten monen yhteiskunnallisesti merkittävän asian kanssa on tilanne.

Kognitiivinen tietotekniikka tutkii tätä ongelmaa ja pyrkii lisäämään ymmärrystä niistä vaihtoehtoisista, usein digitaalisista, rakenteista ja tavoista kommunikoida, joita meillä on käytettävissä. Emme useinkaan tiedosta nykyisten valintojemme kapeutta jonka takia kommunikaatiomme on helposti entistä toistavaa automaatiota. Eräs politiikan- ja työmarkkinoiden veteraani kertoi minulle: ”Samassa tilanteessa sanon aina nämä samat lauseet, koska minulta odotetaan niitä. Puhun julkisuudessa enemmän omille taustajoukoilleni, kuin pöydän toisella puolella istujille”

Tämä uudelleen ja uudelleen samaa toistava malli on erityisen tyypillistä poliittiselle puheelle.

Puhumme, kuten oletamme, että roolissani tulee puhua, emmekä kuten tässä tilanteessa voisi uutta rakentavasti puhua. Valinnat ovat aina sidonnaisia johonkin käsitykseen todellisuudesta, joka on tavallisesti sekä historiallisesti että sosiaalisesti määrittynyt. Eteenpäin menon sijaan jäämme jumiin, koska näitä perusolettamuksia ei oteta rakentavaan tarkasteluun.

Kognitiivisen neurotieteen tutkijat korostavat, että tapamme kommunikoida muovaa meitä itseämme enemmän, kuin kuvittelemme puheemme muovaavan muita.

Omat sosiaaliset viitekehyksemme määrittävät myös mitä nostamme tarkasteluun ja miten lopulta tulkitsemme maailmaa. Opimme ”oikean” tavan kommunikoida tullaksemme hyväksytyksi yhteisöön ja sen jäseniksi. Oikean puheen kautta säilymme myös yhteisön jäsenenä. Mitä pidempään olemme olleet mukana, sitä vähemmän usein kyseenalaistamme ajatusmallejamme ja sitä vähemmän ymmärrämme niistä poikkeavia ihmisiä. Sama mekanismi toimii niin, että koska ”Me” olemme lähtökohtaisesti oikeamielisten joukko ja koska ”He” eivät ole meitä, heidän täytyy olla väärässä, kaikissa tapauksissa.

Mitä vahvempaa tämä heimoutuminen on sitä vaikeampaa on erilaisuuden kohtaaminen ja myös asioista sopiminen ”heidän” kanssaan. Sosiaalinen hyväksyntä omien taholta menee aina muiden, ulkopuolisten, kanssa yhteisen ajatuksen liikkeen ja yhteisen kehittämisen edelle.

Vallitsevien, usein ajasta jälkeenjääneiden, ajatusmallien ylläpitäminen on keino pitää yllä yhteisöä, vaikka kaikki ympärillä olisikin muuttunut. Mitä vaikeammaksi ja kaoottisemmaksi ympäristö koetaan, sen enemmän turvaa oma muuttumaton yhteisö ja omat muuttumattomat ajatukset antavat. Erilaisten käsitysten kohtaamiset ovat silloin televisiokeskustelujen tutuksi tekemää raivokasta puolustustaistoa, jolla yritetään ylläpitää uhan kohteena olevaa henkilökohtaista ja yhteisöllistä identiteettiä.

Tässä tilanteessa ihmisten kohtaamista ja näkemysten luovaa rakentumista ei voi syntyä. Yhteisten asioiden käsittely muuttuu mahdottomaksi.

Demokraattinen yhteiskunta on vuorovaikutukseen perustuva luottamusjärjestelmä ja samaan aikaan luottamukseen perustuva vuorovaikutusjärjestelmä. Kompromissien sijaan, parempi kohtaamiskyky ja kyvykkäämpi neuvottelu tarkoittaa uusien mahdollisuuksia ja vaihtoehtojen luomista yhdessä, jolloin päätöksenteossa voidaan päästä nollasummapelistä plus-summapeliin.

@EskoKilpi

Omistajuus verkostomaisissa organisaatioissa

Liike-elämä ja työ ovat kehittyneissä maissa ehkä eniten ihmisten elämään vaikuttavia voimia. Useimmat meistä tekevät työnsä erilaisissa yrityksissä. Ne vaikuttavat suoraan ja välillisesti siihen millaista elämämme on. Jos voimme vaikuttaa liike-elämän lainalaisuuksiin, voimme vaikuttaa elämän lainalaisuuksiin. Jos muutamme liike-elämää, muutamme maailmaa.

Yhä suurempi osuus asiakkaiden arvosta syntyy erilaisella logiikalla, mihin olemme massatuotannon aikana tottuneet. Kasvava osuus tuotannosta, oli sitten kyseessä tuotteet tai palvelut, syntyy yhdessä asiakkaan kanssa tehtyinä tilanne- tapauskohtaisina ratkaisuina. Asiakasta ei enää nähdä arvoketjun lopussa, sen viimeisenä vaiheena, vaan sen ensimmäisenä vaiheena, ketjun liikkeellepanijana. Asiakkaan oma panos arvon luonnissa on keskeinen ja usein ratkaiseva. Asiakas ei ole enää passiivinen vastaanottaja, vaan aktiivinen toimija ja elimellinen osa arvoprosessia. Arvoketju kääntyy toisin päin kuin ennen. Työntö muuttuu imuksi. Työ muuttuu toistosta tilannekohtaiseksi vuorovaikutukseksi, luovaksi ongelmanratkaisuksi yhdessä asiakkaan kanssa.

Käytännössä tämä tarkoittaa kompleksisuuden kasvua. Monimuotoisuus ja keskinäisriippuvuus lisääntyvät, kun ei voida suoraan toistaa aikaisemmin kehitettyä ratkaisua tai etukäteen mietittyä prosessikaavaa. Tuotannon rakenteiden täytyy muuttua enemmän verkostomaisiksi ja hajautetuiksi, jotta päästäisiin lähemmäksi asiakasta. Keskitetty hallinto ja keskitetyt rakenteet osoittautuvat lähtökohtaisesti liian hitaiksi ja jäykiksi vastaamaan aktiivisen kontaktin ja asiakasvuorovaikutuksen vaateeseen. Tänään liian moni työntekijä on liian kaukana asiakkaasta ja siitä mikä on asiakkaalle tärkeää. Matka asiakkaan ongelmankuvauksesta sen ratkaisuun on liian pitkä, jos tie kulkee aina johtajan ja keskitetyn hallinnon kautta.

Arvolupauksen täytyy myös modularisoitua mahdollistamaan yhä laajempi potentiaalisten ratkaisujen kirjo. Tämä tarkoittaa kehitystä kohti alustataloutta ja rakennetta, jossa itse yritys on enemmän verkostoaan ja muita, itsenäisiä tahoja, yhdistävä, sekä ongelmia ja niiden ratkaisuja yhteen tuova linkittäjä, kuin itse rajattua ratkaisujen määrää valmistava perinteinen tuotantolaitos.

Yritys on lainopillinen ja sosiaalinen konstruktio. Yritys voi siten olla mitä toivomme ja osaamme kuvitella sen olevan. Muuttuvassa ympäristössä pärjätäkseen yrityksen ehkä pitääkin olla hyvin erinäköinen kuin nyt. Perinteisen yrityksen olemassaolon oikeutus on syntynyt sen kyvystä koordinoida arvoa luovaa toimintaa markkinoita tehokkaammin. Yritys ja sen arvontuottoprosessit ovat ihmisten yhteistyötä. Aivan samaa yhteistyötä voisi teoriassa tehdä ilman yritystä, tai erilaisten, esimerkiksi verkostomaisten, rakenteiden kautta. Yrityksen olemassaolon filosofinen lähtökohta on se odotettu tehokkuus, joka syntyy toimintaan, kun markkinoiden sijaan johtamisen kautta hoidetaan tarvittava kommunikaatio, allokoidaan resursseja ja tehdään päätöksiä siitä, miten ihmiset tekevät yhteistyötä ja miten koordinoidaan yksittäisiä tapahtumia. Teoreettisesti nämä samat sopimukset voisivat tapahtua markkina-transaktioina, joissa vapaa hinnan muodostus, kysyntä ja tarjonta ajaisivat saman asian, minkä nyt tekee asiasta päättävä työnantaja tai johtaja.

Yrityksen arvontuottoprosessien kääntyessä työntämisestä tilannekohtaiseen imuun ja osaamisvaateiden kasvaessa, keskeisimpiä päätöksiä on ketkä ovat yrityksessä ”sisällä” ja ketkä toimivat yrityksen ja sen alustan kautta, erilaisissa sopimussuhteissa verkostossa ”ulkopuolella”.

Tämän päätöksen näkyvin käytännön lopputulema on tähän asti ollut kompensaatioperiaatteiden erilaisuus eri toimijoille. Jos kyseessä on ”ulkopuolella” sopimussuhteessa oleva toimija, lähtee kompensaatio mitattavissa olevasta ja etukäteen sopimuksellisesti määritetystä tuotoksesta. Tuotoksen tekemiseen liittyvä tarvittava muu panostus, kuten oppiminen ja sen kustannukset, ei tavallisesti ole esillä. Toimittajan on kuitenkin yleensä pystyttävä jollain tavalla takaamaan kykynsä suoriutua kyseessä olevasta tehtävästä. Riski siitä, että toimittaja ei pystykään vastaamaan lupaukseensa on tavallisesti toimittajalla, eli jos tuotosta ei synny, tai se ei vastaa sopimusta, ei kompensaatiotakaan tule. Riskiä ei lähtökohtaisesti jaeta, vaikka sen toteutuminen saattaakin aiheuttaa suurta haittaa työn tilaajalle.

Yrityksen sisällä periaatteet ovat erilaiset. Riskejä, jotka liittyvät puutteellisiin tuotoksiin, alisuoriutumiseen, tai vääriin panostuksiin, on hyvin vaikea kohdistaa nykyisissä tuotantorakenteissa oikein. Tämän vaikeuden johdosta nämä riskit tavallisesti jaetaan. Yritys, ja lopulta kaikki sen työntekijät kantavat kollektiivisesti tämän piilossa olevan riskin. Kollektiivisuudesta riskin kannossa seuraa, ettei toiminnan tehostamiseen liittyviä ratkaisuja ole aina helppo tehdä. Hyvät, toimivat osat joutuvat kantamaan taakkana myös toimimattomien osien painon. Sisällä riskit jaetaan, mutta ulkopuolella, verkostossa, ei.

Palkkasuhteen, tai muunlaisen sopimussuhteen valintaan yrityksen ja toimijan väliseksi sopimukseksi on myös vaikuttanut keskeisesti juuri helppous tai vaikeus arvioida työn tuotosta ja sen arvoa.

Jos arviointi on helppoa, painottui valinta sopimussuhteeseen. Jos arviointi on vaikeaa, on palkkasuhde ollut todennäköisempi vaihtoehto. Teollisen yrityksen perusteisiin liittyy tämän johdosta koordinaatiokyvyn kääntöpuoli, systeeminen tehottomuus, jota ei ole helppo paikallistaa, koska se on rakenteellista tehottomuutta.

Kaikki voivat omista lähtökohdistaan tehdä parhaansa ja myös saavuttaa omilla mittareillaan hyviä tuloksia, mutta lopputulos on kokonaisuuden kannalta kestämätön.

Työn tuotoksen arviointi on sisällä ollut vaikeaa, mutta ulkopuolella, verkostossa, helpompaa.

Yrityksen omistus syntyy tavallisimmin niiden riski-investointien seurauksena, joita omistajat tekevät sijoittaessaan rahaa yritykseen ja sen tuotantolaitteisiin. Omistajat valitsevat sitten yritykseen johdon, joka palvelee omistajien tavoitteita, joista tärkeimpänä on pidetty omistuksen arvon turvaamista ja sen kasvattamista. Mallista seuraa, että yrityksen omistamiseen ja sen toiminnan suuntaviivojen valintaan, sen johtamiseen, liittyviä seikkoja tarkastellaan tavallisesti erillään työntekijöiden työpanosten ja yrityksen välisestä suhteesta.

Riskin käsite liittyy tässä mallissa finanssi-investointeihin ja riskinotosta seuraa omistusoikeus. Työntekijä ei tämän ajattelun mukaan kanna (yrittäjä)riskiä. Työntekijän panos on turvattu, mutta omistajan ei.

Gary Becker otti käyttöön termin inhimillinen pääoma (human capital) osoittaessaan, että suuri osa niistä taidoista ja tiedoista joita työ vaatii, olivat mahdollisia omata vain jos työtekijä sijoitti niiden hankkimiseen aikaansa ja resursseja. Erityisen tärkeitä olivat havainnot, joita Becker teki inhimillisen pääoman arvosta eri yhteyksissä. Hän osoitti, että usein osaaminen ja tieto olivat arvokkaampia juuri siinä yrityksessä, siinä kontekstissa, jossa työntekijä työskenteli, verrattuna tilanteeseen, että hän olisi vaihtanut työpaikkaa tai alaa.

Tietointensiivisen työn yhteydessä tiedon ja osaamisen tuottavuusvaikutukset ovat ilmeisiä. Tämän johdosta työntekijöiden panosta tai kuluja ei voidakaan enää arvioida geneerisinä, homogeenisinä henkilöstöerinä suhteutettuna käytettyyn aikaan tai henkilöstön lukumäärään. Oikealla osaamisella oikeassa tilanteessa on valtavan suuri merkitys. Kun erilaisella osaamisella on erilaisia tuottavuusvaikutuksia, niin tulee tärkeäksi nähdä kuka tekee mitäkin, missä ja milloin. Oikean, ehkä ulkopuolelta, tulevan henkilön läsnäolo oikeaan aikaan arvoverkon solmukohdassa saattaa muodostua yhtä lailla tärkeäksi kilpailutekijäksi, kuin mitä yrityksen perinteinen henkilöstö oli.

Tietotyöntekijän kannalta katsottuna mallista seuraa, että osaaja ottaa myös riskin hyvin samojen periaatteiden mukaan kuin rahaa sijoittava omistaja tekee. Jos jostain syystä työntekijä ei voi jatkaa toimimista ympäristössä, johon hän on kehittänyt osaamistaan, on todennäköistä, että tähän kontekstiin liittyvällä osaamisella on pienempi arvo jossain muualla. Hankittu osaaminen menettää markkina-arvoaan, eli riski toteutuu.

Riskin käsite ei siten liity vain finanssi-investointeihin, vaan myös henkisen pääoman investointeihin. Tulevaisuuden verkostomaisissa yrityksissä ja usein lyhyemmissä työsuhteissa toimiminen edellyttää uudenlaiseen riskinottoon kannustamista. Teoreettisesti riskinotosta pitäisikin aina seurata omistuksenkaltainen suhde siihen toimintaan jossa ollaan mukana. Omistaminen ei kuitenkaan tässä liity yhteisten tuotannontekijöiden omistamiseen, vaan osuuteen yhteisön tulevaisuuden tulon odotuksista.

Jälkiteollista taloudellista toimintaa tulisi tarkastella kaikkien niiden panostusten summana, joita siihen tehdään. ”Yritys” on kaikkien näiden investointien lopputulema. Osaamista voidaan tarkastella investointina monien samojen periaatteiden mukaan joita olemme käyttäneet finanssi-investointien kanssa. Yritys-spesifin osaamisinvestoinnin tulisikin ajatuksellisesti noudattaa oman pääoman ehtoisen investoinnin logiikkaa, vieraan pääoman ehtoisen investoinnin sijaan. Näiden kahden ero on se, että vieraan pääoman ehtoisen investoinnin tuottovaade on ennalta määrätty. Oman pääoman ehtoinen investointi tuottaa hyvin, jos yrityksellä menee hyvin. Jos yrityksellä menee huonosti on tuottokin huono. Tavoitteena pitäisi olla tilanne, jossa osaamisen tuottovaikutukset voitaisiin jakaa tulevaisuuden tuloista sopimusteknisesti pidemmällä aikajänteellä, erityisesti siitä katteesta, jota yhteistyö tuottaa. Tämä mahdollistaisi uudenlaisen riskinoton nyt syntyvissä hajautetuissa, verkostomaisissa rakenteissa, joissa työpanosta ja siihen liittyvää kompensaatiota on vaikea kuvata etukäteen. Teknisesti tämänkaltainen riskinjako on nyt ensimmäistä kertaa toteutettavissa lohkoketju-pohjaisten älykkäiden sopimusten kautta.

Olemme siirtymässä uuteen taloudellisen toiminnan ympäristöön jossa on usein vaikeampi arvioida ulkopuolelta tulevaa panosta kuin sisällä toteutettua työtä.

Uudet taloudelliset tilat ja verkostomaiset, tilapäiset, työsuhteet edellyttävät uudenlaista riskinottoa, uutta riskin jakoa ja uutta, oikeudenmukaista, tulosten jakoa. Uuden (työ)suhteen pitäisi olla samanaikaisesti sekä palkkasuhde että omistuksen kaltainen suhde, kolmas suhde, jota meillä ei vielä ole. Mallista seuraa, että investoijan tulisi saada sitä suurempi osuus tulevaisuuden tulon odotuksesta, mitä tilanne-spesifisimpiä investoinnit ovat ja mitä vaikeampaa niiden tuottovaikutuksia on arvioida etukäteen ja sopia niistä.

Tavoitteena tulisi olla kaikkien yritystoiminnan osapuolien vapaaehtoinen sitoutuminen yhteiseen toimintaan, sen perustehtävään ja tavoitteisiin. Tämä tarkoittaa aktiivista osallisuutta, mutta myös uutta työn suhdemaailmaa, joka on paljon monimuotoisempi kuin nykyinen työnantaja – työntekijäsuhde ja esimies – alaissuhde. Uusi työ tarkoittaa myös vastuunottoa sijoitetusta panostuksesta riippumatta sen luonteesta. Tavoitteena tulee olla sijoituksen arvon säilyminen ja kasvu sekä kyky sopimusteknisesti hyötyä sen mahdollistamista tuloksista. Kaikilla investoijilla on silloin sama tavoite: saada hyöty investoinnin kautta syntyvistä tulevaisuuden tulon odotuksista ja osuus pitkän tähtäimen tuotoksesta. Teknologisesti tämä on nyt ensimmäistä kertaa mahdollista toteuttaa. Investoinnin ja sen tuoton välisen kausaliteettiketjun todentaminen tulee olemaan tulevaisuudessa helpompaa uusien lohkoketjupohjaisten tietokantojen avulla.

Tietotyön ollessa yhä tavallisempi tapa tuottaa arvoa yhteiskunnassa tarvitsemme uuden käsitteistön, joka antaisi kestävämmän lähtökohdan ymmärtää kuinka jälkiteollinen yritys voisi olla houkutteleva kohde sekä finanssi-investoinneille että osaamisinvestoinneille. Voi olla, että työkin on jatkossa samanlainen investointiportfolio kuin mitä finanssi-investoinnin tekijä tänään tavoittelee. Riskin jakaminen useaan kohteeseen voi olla paljon järkevämpää kuin laittaa kaikki munat samaan koriin. Vanhempamme tekivät yhden pitkän työuran. Meillä on ollut niitä useita peräkkäin. Lapsillamme voi olla useita työuria samanaikaisesti. Kaikki riski-investoinnit eivät koskaan tuota hyvin, mutta jotkut niistä saattavat olla hyvin kannattavia – jos olemme omistajia!

Lean interaction

In lean vocabulary, anything that does not create value experienced by the customer, anything that slows one down in serving the customer’s need, or does not contain potential for learning, is waste. Making something that does not solve the customer problem is waste. Waiting is waste. Any extra processing steps are waste.

The concept of lean has lately been transferred from manufacturing to other practices such as media services. People are used to lean thinking when it comes to technology and industrial processes, but it is still rare to understand what being lean means in communication-centric businesses. This is because many managers still trivialize the power of interaction.

We still don’t appreciate that work is communication: we live and work in a network of conversations. Being lean today means understanding that these conversations are never neutral. They always affect the quality and pace of the customer outcome. Communication either accelerates or slows down. Communication either creates value or creates waste. Communication can create energy and inspiration or can take energy away and reduce inspiration. Waste today means getting stuck or running in cognitive circles in the conversations we are having. Communication enables but also restricts

The sciences of uncertainty and complexity have helped us to understand that organizations can be seen as patterns of interaction between human beings. The interactions in the linear mass industries were very different from the interactions in the dynamic, unstable, Internet-based world. To cope with this, we need to learn to embrace unpredictability and complexity as inescapable constants.

Many managers still possess the skills that meet the challenges of static conditions. In a static, reductionist environment, you knew how each role fitted within the larger system. You knew how the repetitive process worked, and you didn’t want deviations. You knew what it took to make the products and you didn’t want people changing anything or inventing things . You wanted everyone to do their planned part and not get in each other’s way. When roles and organizational units are separated from other roles and units, communication is the task of the manager. You, as a manager, do the coordination and share the information necessary for each to make their planned contribution and nothing more.

In dynamic business conditions, the management practices described above are not only unhelpful, but cause damage and create waste rather than value. If you cannot predict you have to invest in real-time learning and iterations instead of predictions. Success is first and foremost based on the value of interaction, context awareness and responsiveness. What we still need to learn is that this responsiveness is not possible if we are many handshakes away from the customer context that we should respond to.

The agile manifesto points out that individuals in interaction are more important than processes and tools. Working prototypes are more important than documentation. Customer collaboration is more important than contracts and, most importantly, responding to change is more important than following a plan.

Knowledge is the act of interacting and new knowledge is created when ways of interaction, and therefore patterns of relationships, change. The creative assets of an organization are the patterns of interaction between its members. Assets are destroyed when relationships are missing or are dysfunctional.

Enabling new habits of communication and improving the quality of the conversation are today among the most important processes of lean development.

 

 

Sense making and protocols as the future of management

Management thinking is moving towards an understanding of human action as a process of sense making. What an organization becomes emerges from the sense-making relationships of its members, rather than being determined by the choices of few powerful individuals.

Management is historically seen as a collection of tasks involving planning, organizing, controlling and incentivizing. A competent manager is believed to be able to analyze organizational and task requirements plus the emotionally loaded human motivations. Successful management has then been able to remove conflict and uncertainty and accurately predict and plan the future.

The future is accordingly described as goals and performance targets. Following this logic, the role of management is to control the movement into a chosen future. But what management really is, is about reduction of anxiety. Anxiety levels in the individual experiences most often depend on the perceived level of control people have over themselves and their environment. This drives our need to believe that someone is, or should be, in control.

The opposites of being in control, such as responsiveness as opposed to planning, not knowing as opposed to knowing or differences as opposed to consensus should be removed by management. Success is equated with equilibrium.

However, the ability to do this in a complex world that is highly sensitive to the tiniest changes is questionable. Neither can rational causality be applied to humans because human action is not deterministic. The idealistic view of a manager as one who is in control is not consistent with our practical experience, or with modern science. From the point of view of the sciences of complexity, an organization is not even a system, but should be understood as a pattern, or as interconnected patterns in time.

These interconnected patterns are the results of self-organizing processes across the network forming the organization. Many events, local interactions generate emergent outcomes that cannot be traced back to any specific management action. Looking towards the future, we create what happens next, without knowing what will happen next.

The organization, then, is no longer self-regulating in a cybernetic sense, but self-influencing in a complex sense. Self-influence as a concept is not necessarily positive, it can lead both to self-sustaining and self-destructive behaviors.

The key management capability is not being in control, but to participate and influence the formation of sense making and meaning. It is about creating a context that enables connectedness, interaction and trust between people.

Most people believe that the role of leaders is to choose strategic directions and then persuade others to follow them. A modern view of strategy is about exploration and experiments, a search process of trial and error. The openness to the possible through the search process leads to having to live with anxiety and not knowing. Work needs to equal learning.

Protocols

Almost all management practices we have from goal setting to budgeting are cybernetic in the sense that quantified targets are set at some point in the future and the path toward the goal is planned and then controlled. Variance is continually fed back to determine needed management adjustments to bring performance back to the target path. The still dominant ways of management thinking are based on Newtonian dynamics with the belief that a manager can find leverage points for interventions to initiate a known change. The manager’s role is with these “if-then” causal rules.

What (cybernetic) management used to be, is tomorrow done by algorithms and the new enabling/constraining protocols. It is about individuals acting with each other according to the fewest number of rules that can produce global, emergent patterns of coherent, interactive behavior.

Post-blockchain smart contracts make possible, in economically viable ways, that person A can be part in the work/learning of person B. B again plays part in the work/learning of person C, who plays part in the work/learning of A. Work is by default networked cognition. Value creation is event-based and contextually highly interdependent cooperation.

No one agent is choosing the number and strength of connections for other agents in the network. While no agent can be in control of a complex system, it is evolving in a controlled manner because of the conflicting constraints, the differences in the network. This is why the goal is not to reach consensus. What an organization becomes emerges from the relationships of its members rather than being chosen by some individuals.

The fundamental dynamic of evolution is not competitive selection, but interactive cooperation. Management in the new economic spaces is then about self-influencing cooperation.

From transaction costs to network effects

Resonance occurs whenever two things vibrate in tune. If you strike a tuning fork, an identical fork on the same table will begin to vibrate. Energy is continuously exchanged between the forks, which are in resonance. Resonance is such a powerful phenomenon that soldiers marching across a suspension bridge break stride just in case their coordinated marching should resonate with the natural vibrations of the bridge. If this would occur, the bridge would absorb the energy of the marching soldiers and the structures could even oscillate out of control and break.

Quantum theory says that each (quantum) entity has both a wavelike and a particle like aspect. The particle like characteristic is fixed but the wavelike is a set of potentialities that cannot be reduced to the existing parts of the entity. If two or more of these entities are brought together, their potentialities are entangled. Their wave aspects are interwoven to the extent that a change in the potentiality in one brings about a corresponding change in the potentiality of the other. A new shared reality emerges that could not have been predicted by studying the properties or actions of the two entities. It is really about learning that scales.

The famous experiments with the fundamental entities of visible light have proven that we cannot claim that a photon is a wave or a particle until it is measured, and how we measure it determines what we see. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” as Max Planck put it.

The basic units of the industrial era were transacting entities enabled by market, price and coordination mechanisms. It was a world of particles separated from other particles.

As a social innovation the industrial era enterprise was born when the volume of economic activity reached a level that made administrative coordination more efficient and more lucrative than market coordination of these particles.

The important innovation of the modern firm was to internalize activities by bringing many discrete entities under one roof and under one system of coordination. The multi-unit business corporation replaced the small, single-unit enterprise because administrative coordination enabled greater productivity through lower (transaction) costs per task than was possible before.

Managers essentially carried out the functions formerly handled by price and market mechanisms.

The practices and procedures that were invented at the dawn of industrialism have become a standard operating system and are still taught in business schools. The existence of this managerial system is not questioned. It is the defining characteristic of the business enterprise.

But two aspects of work have changed dramatically.

The most successful firms are themselves multi-sided markets in interaction with entities “outside”, customers and network partners. These firms are the new platforms.

Secondly, the products/services the platform firm sells to its clients are not offerings of the firm per se, but offerings created by specific network players in specific situations of “local” network interaction.

Thus, aiming to become a platform requires a vision that extends beyond one’s firm and aims to build and sustain an ecosystem that benefits from more partners joining the network. During the industrial era, economists called this phenomenon network “externalities”. Now it is more properly called network effects.

This conceptual difference is hugely important because what assets were for the industrial firm, network effects are for the post-industrial firm.

We all have mindsets of the world that serve as maps that guide what we see and how we understand the world around us. The maps can be helpful but also outdated and incorrect. The approach that managers do the coordination is just too slow and too costly in the low transaction cost environments we live in. It is now more expensive to internalize than to link and network.

Traditional business economics focus on supply side economies of scale derived from the resource base of the company. It scales much more slowly than the demand side network effects the new firms are built on. Network effect based value can increase exponentially at the same time as costs grow linearly. If you follow the valuations of firms today there is an ever-widening gap between the network-economy platforms and incumbents driven by traditional asset leverage models. Investors and markets have voted.

People participate based on transparent information and high quality communication systems enabling “resonance”. The contributing individuals are not managers but customers and other network partners. The more of them there in active “resonance” the more assets there are.

The main mission of digital platforms is to make network effects possible. Platforms are (just) means to tackle network effects the same way the industrial corporations were (just) means to tackle transaction costs.

The big shift is from market transactions to network interactions. The world of business looks very different when we change the way we look at things from transaction cost economics to network effect economics.

The past and the future of work

The most modern definition of work is “an exchange in which the participants benefit from the interaction”. Interestingly, cooperation is also described as “an exchange in which the participants benefit from the interaction”.

The way we view work life is influenced by the way we view the world. This view rests on the most fundamental assumptions we make about reality. In the present competitive view of the world, we often think that the most capable are those who are the most competitive, and accordingly that competition creates and secures capability and long-term viability in the world (of work).

But what if high performance is incorrectly attributed to competition and is more a result of diversity, self-organizing communication and non-competitive processes of cooperation?

Competitive processes lead to the handicapping of the system that these processes are part of. This is because competitive selection leads to exclusion: something or somebody, the losers, are left outside. Leaving something out from an ecosystem always means a reduction of diversity. The resulting less diverse system is efficient in the short-term, competition seems to work, but always at the expense of long-term viability. Sustainability, agility and complex problem solving require more diversity, not less.

As losers are excluded from the game, they are not allowed to learn. The divide between winners and losers grows constantly. Losers multiply as winning behaviors are replicated in the smaller winners’ circles and losing behaviors are replicated in the bigger losers’ circles. This is why, in the end, the winners have to pay the price of winning in one-way or another. The bigger the divide of inequality, the bigger is the price that finally has to be paid. The winners end up having to take care of the losers, or two totally different cultures are formed, as is happening in many places today. Psychologically, competitive games create shadow games of losers competing at losing. These start-ups are trained in jails and the pitching takes place on streets very far away from the Sand Hill Road.

The games we play have been played under the assumption that the unit of survival is the player, meaning the individual or a company. However, at the time of the Anthropocene, the reality is that the unit of survival is the player in the game being played. Following Darwinian rhetoric, the unit of survival is the species in its environment. Who wins and who loses is of minor importance compared to the decay of the (game) environment as a result of the actions of the players.

In games that were paradoxically competitive and cooperative at the same time, losers would not be eliminated from the game, but would be invited to learn from the winners. What prevents losers learning from winners is our outdated zero-sum thinking and the winner-take-all philosophy.

In competitive games the players need to have the identical aim of winning the same thing. Unless all the players want the same thing, there cannot be a genuine contest. Human players and their contributions are, at best, too diverse to rank. They are, and should be, too qualitatively different to compare quantitatively. Zero-sum games were the offspring of scarcity economics. In the post-industrial era of abundant creativity and contextuality, new human-centric approaches are needed.

Before Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” and came out with the idea of the invisible hand, he had already written something perhaps even more interesting for our time. In “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” he argued that a stable society was based on sympathy. He underlined the importance of a moral duty — to have regard for your fellow human beings

Cooperative processes are about interdependent individuals and groups defining and solving problems in a shared context. Individuals competing on job markets may be one of the historic mistakes we have inherited from the industrial age. It made sense a long time ago but now we should think differently.

Interaction creates capability beyond individuals. Cooperative performance can be more than what could ever be predicted just by looking at the performance of the parties involved in a competitive game. The higher performance and robustness are emergent properties of cooperative interaction. They are not attributable to any of the parts of the system or to functioning of the markets.

Networks provide problem-solving capability that results directly from the richness of communication and the amount of connectivity. What happens in interaction between the parts creates a reality that cannot be seen in the parts or even all of the parts. What we have called the “whole” is an emergent pattern of interaction, not the sum of the parts.

The same principle explains why we have financial crises that no one planned and wars that no one wants. On the other hand, the great societal promise is that interaction in wide-area networks, with enough diversity, can solve problems beyond the awareness of the individuals involved.

What defines most problems today is that they are not isolated and independent but connected and systemic. To solve them, a person has to think not only about what he believes the right answer is, but also about what other people think the right answers might be. Following the rhetoric of game theory: what each person does affects and depends on what everyone else will do and vice versa.

Most managers and decision makers are still unaware of the implications of the complex, responsive properties of the world we live in. Enterprises are not organized to facilitate management of interactions, only the actions of parts taken separately. Even more, compensation structures normally rewards improving the actions of parts, not their interactions.

Work that humans do used to be a role, now it is a task, but it is going to be a relationship: work is interaction between interdependent people. The really big idea of 2016 is to reconfigure agency in a way that brings relationships into the center. The mission is to see action within relationships.

Amyarta Sen has written that wealth should not be measured by what we have but what we can do. As we engage in new relationships and connect with thinking that is different from ours, we are always creating new potentials for action. In competitive/cooperative games the winners would be all those whose participation, comments and contributions were incorporated in the development of the game.

From the industrial economy to the interactive economy

Over the past years, mobile technologies and the Internet have laid the foundation for a very small size, low-cost enterprise with the potential for managing large numbers of business relationships.

The impact of these new actors has been hard to grasp because we are used to thinking about work from a different perspective. Our thinking arises from a make-and-sell economic model. Most managers still subscribe to this and think that the core of creating value is to plan and manage a supply chain. A supply chain is a system of assets and transactions that in the end make the components of the customer offering. At the beginning of the supply chain are the raw materials and the ideas that start the sequence leading, hopefully, to a sale.

This is now being supplanted by a different paradigm; a relational, network approach enabled by new coordination technologies. The manufacturer may even be just one of the nodes in the network and the customer is not a passive consumer but an active part of the plan.

The old model companies are ill equipped for this digital transformation. Mass-production and mass media organizations are still much more prepared to talk to customers than to hear from them, not realizing that one-way communication was just a fleeting accident of technological development. It is not that customers didn’t have needs and reflections they would have liked to communicate.

We are passing through a technological discontinuity of huge proportions. The rules of competition may even be rewritten for the interactive age. The new interactive economy demands new skills: managing the supply-chain is less important than building networks and enabling trust in relations. You could perhaps call the new reversed sequence an on-demand-chain. It is the opposite of the make-and-sell model. It is a chain of relationships and links that starts from interaction with the customer and leads up to the creation of the on-demand offering. As Steve Jobs put it in a different context: “you start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it.”

Adapting the interactive model is not as easy as identifying customer segments or a niche market because communication can no longer be confined to sales and marketing, or to the ad agency, as in the make-and-sell model. Also to talk about a “segment of one” is misleading because one-way communication changes here to true two-way dialogue. The interactive enterprise must be able to integrate its entire network around the needs of each individual customer context. The on-demand-chain means continuous on-demand learning and continuous change. Your dialogue with an individual customer will change your behavior toward her and change that customer’s behavior toward you. People develop together in interaction.

A learning relationship potentially makes the whole network smarter with every individual interaction creating network effects. Accordingly, the enterprise increases customer retention by making loyalty more convenient than non-loyalty as a result of learning. The goal is to create more value for the customer and to lower her transaction costs. This kind of relationship ensures that it is always in the customer’s self-interest to remain with the people who have developed the relationship to begin with. The main benefit for the network partners may not be financial. The most valuable thing is to have access to “community knowledge”, a common movement of thought. It means to be part of a network where learning takes place faster than somewhere else.

In the mass-market economy, the focus was to create a quality product. With increased global competition and with so many quality products around that is not enough any more. To succeed you need high-quality relationships. When customers are identified as individuals in different use contexts, the marketing process is really a joint process of solving problems. You and your customer necessarily then become cooperators. You are together trying to solve the customer’s problem in a way that both satisfies the customer and ensures a profit for you.

The relational approach is the third way to work. It is not about having a fixed job role as an employee or having tasks given to you as a contractor. The most inspiring and energizing future of work may be in solving problems and spotting opportunities in creative interaction with your customers.

The industrial make-and-sell model required expert skills. The decisive thing was your individual knowledge. Today you work more from your network than your skills. The decisive thing is your relations.

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Not firms but commons and market networks

Many people see peer-to-peer platforms as game changers in the world of work with the potential of reinventing the economy and giving individuals the power of the corporation. Others are sceptical and warn that the new architectures of participation and choice are in reality architectures of exploitation, giving rise to a new class of workers, “the precariat”, people who endure insecure conditions, very short-term work and low wages with no collective bargaining power, abandoned by the employee unions, rendering them atomized and powerless.

I have just finished reading “PEERS INC”, an excellent book by Robin Chase. It is both a practical guide and a textbook that explains what is happening today in the (almost) zero transaction cost economy, the digitally enabled new world that has given rise to peer-to-peer platforms as the most modern iteration of the firm.

Robin Chase explains well how the patterns of work and the roles of workers are becoming very different from what we are used to: the industrial production of physical goods was financial capital-intensive, leading to centralized management and manufacturing facilities where you needed to be during predetermined hours. The industrial era created the employers, the employees and the shareholder capitalism we now experience.

In the network economy, individuals, interacting voluntarily with each other by utilizing the new platforms/apps and relatively cheap mobile devices they own themselves, can create value, and, even more importantly, utilize resources and available “excess capacity” as Robin Chase calls it, in a much more sustainable way than was possible during the industrial era.

Work systems differ in the degree to which their components are loosely or tightly coupled. Coupling is a measure of the degree to which communication and power relation between the components are predetermined and fixed or not. Hierarchies and processes were based on tight couplings. The new post-industrial platforms are based on loose couplings following the logic of the Internet. Some people will work on one platform every now and then, while others will work simultaneously and continuously on many different platforms. The worker makes the decision about where, with whom and how much to work. The old dichotomy of employers and employees is a thing of the past.

In creative, knowledge-based work it is increasingly difficult to know the best mix of capabilities and tasks in advance. Recruiting is becoming a matter of expensive guesswork. Matching the patterns of work with the capabilities of individuals beforehand is getting close to impossible. What, then, is the use of the organizational theater when it is literally impossible to define the organization before we actually do something? What if the organization really should be a process of emergent self-organizing in the way the platforms make possible?

Instead of thinking about the organization let’s think about organizing as an ongoing thing. Then the managerial task is to make possible very easy and very fast emergent responsive interaction and group formation. It has to be as easy as possible for the best contributions from the whole network to find the applicable contextual needs and people.

Instead of the topology or organizational boxes that are often the visual representation of work, the picture of work is a live social graph. In markets the signalling may change; It is not just a system of prices that brings people together, but purposes, capabilities and reputation .

If you follow the valuations of firms today there is an ever-widening gap between the network-economy platforms and those companies driven by traditional asset leverage models. Investors and markets have voted very clearly. Traditional business economics focus on economies of scale derived from the resource base of the company, which scales much more slowly than the network effects the new firms are built on. The start-ups have a huge advantage over the incumbents.

In practice this means that the peer-to-peer platforms can attain the level of customer reach and network size required to capture almost any market, even as the size of the core (firm) stays relatively small.

The principles behind these trends are crucially important for the future of firms and society. It used to be argued that goods for which the marginal costs, the cost of producing one more unit of customer value, were close to zero were inherently public goods and should be made publicly available. Before the digital era, roads and bridges were commonly used as examples of these platforms. The maximum societal benefit from the initial investment is gained only if the use is as unrestricted as possible. People should have free, or almost free access to the – “platform”. Once the capital costs have been incurred, the more people there are sharing the benefits, the better it is for the whole value system.

This was the economic explanation for why roads were, and still are, under public ownership. The same logic applied to public libraries: a book can be read repeatedly at almost no extra cost.

A platform (company) should therefore be as open, as accessible and as supportive as possible to as many users as possible. This is unequivocally the route to optimum value creation. The scale of the Internet can create almost boundless returns without the core company growing at all. And against mainstream thinking, services do scale now as much as products did yesterday. One person can have a million customers and ten people can have a hundred million customers. The sheer size of an enterprise will tend to mean less in the digital network business than in the world of physical goods. The flip side is that companies don’t grow and create jobs in the way they used to. It is the networks that grow creating new earnings opportunities for people who are part of the network!

The central aggregator of enterprise value will no longer be a value chain, but a network space, where these new firms are fully market-facing and the customer experience is defined by apps. Our management thinking is slowly shifting towards understanding the new kernel of work: participative, self-organizing responsiveness.

Platforms are a valuable, shared resource making interactive value creation possible through organizing and simplifying participation. Sociologists have called such shared resources public goods. A private good is one that the owners can exclude others from using. Private was valuable and public without much value during the era of scarcity economics. This is now changing in a dramatic way, creating the intellectual confusion we are in the midst of today. The physical commons were, and still often are, over-exploited but the new commons follow a different logic. The more they are used, the more valuable they are for each participant.

The ongoing vogue of business design transforms asset-based firms to network-based platforms. Perhaps the next evolutionary step in the life of the firms is a transformation from platforms to open commons with shared protocols. Perhaps Bitcoin/Blockchain is going to be part of the new stack, the TCP/IP of business.

In the new commons and market networks, people with more potential ties become better informed and have more signalling power, while those outside and with fewer ties may be left behind. This is the new digital divide. Network inequality creates and reinforces inequality of opportunity.

In the age of abundance economics, public is much more valuable than private. Governments have always been platform creators. I sincerely hope they understand the tremendous opportunity we all face. The old demarcation line between public and private does not make any sense any more.

The principles of digital peer-to-peer commons can also enable the massive multi-stakeholder participation that is urgently needed to meet the challenge of climate change, as Robin Chase writes in her important book “PEERS INC”.

Disrupting Unemployment

The concepts that govern our thinking and language in relation to work are not just semantic entities, but influence what we perceive and what we think is possible or not possible. Usually we are not aware of how these concepts prime our thinking. We simply think and act along certain lines.

A seminal concept related to how we perceive work is the division of labor, the notion of work as activities separated from other activities, as jobs. The industrial management paradigm is based on the presupposition that activities are the independent governing factors of creating value. The organizational structure of jobs comes first. Then an appropriate system of co-ordination and communication is put into effect. The scheme of interaction conforms to the planned division of labor as a secondary feature.

What if the increasing global competition, the Internet and the huge advances in communication technologies made it possible, or even necessary, to think differently? What if interaction was seen as the governing factor? The smartphone has now become information technology’s key product. Surely, then, it has an impact on the way we work. As jobs and communication are mutually dependent, it means that if there are changes in interaction, so the activities will change.

In the mainstream conceptual model of communication (Shannon & Weaver 1948) a thought arising within one individual is translated into words, which are then transmitted to another individual. At the receiving end, the words translate back into the same thought, if the formulation of the words and the transmission of those words are good enough. The meaning is in the words.

Amazingly, our conceptualization of value creation has followed the very same model. Companies transform ideas into offerings that are delivered to customers. At the receiving end, the products translate back into the same value that the company has created. The meaning is in the product.

Management scholars have lately made interesting claims saying that although the product is the same, different customers experience the value potential of the product differently. They say that it is in fact wrong to say that companies create value. It is the way the offering is contextually experienced and used that creates value, more value or less value. The bad news is that our present conceptualizations of work make it very hard to do anything about it. The good news is that for the first time in history we can do something about it. Companies can connect with users and be digitally present when and where their products are used.

Tor Arne

But we need a new conceptualization of communication if we want to have a new conceptualization of work. Luckily, there is one. A completely different approach to communication exists. The alternative view is based on the work of George Herbert Mead. This model does not see communication as messages that are transmitted between senders and receivers, but as complex social action.

In the social act model, communication takes the form of a gesture made by an individual that evokes a response from someone else. The meaning of the gesture can only be known from the response, not from the words. There is no deterministic causality, no transmission, from the gesture to the response. If I smile at you and you respond with a smile, the meaning of the gesture is friendly, but if you respond with a cold stare, the meaning of the gesture is contempt. Gestures and responses cannot be separated but constitute one social act, from which meaning emerges.

Gestures call forth responses and products call forth and evoke responses. Value lies not in the product but in the (customer) response. Accordingly, work should then be conceptualized as an interactive process, a social act, because the value of work cannot be known in the separate “job” activity or be understood through the capabilities of the worker.

If we subscribe to this relational view, it means that people and actions are simultaneously forming and being formed by each other at the same time, all the time, in interaction. Perhaps in the future it will not be meaningful to conceptualize work as jobs or even as organizational (activity) structures like the firms of today. Work will be described as complex patterns of communicative interaction between interdependent individuals.

All interacting imposes constraints on those relating, while at the same time enabling those people to do what they could not otherwise do. Enabling and energizing patterns of interaction may be the most important raison d’être of work.

The relational view is a new conceptualization of work, potentially opening up new opportunities to disrupt unemployment. Perhaps it is time to change the focus from creating jobs to creating customers – in new, innovative ways. To quote Max Planck: “If you change the way you look at things, the things that you look at change.”

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Thank you Katri Saarikivi

The magic power of transparency and links

Eugene Garfield founded the Institute for Scientific Information in 1960.  His pioneering work was in citation indexing. This allows a researcher to identify which articles have been cited most frequently and who has cited them. Garfield’s studies demonstrated that the number of citable items, i.e. the number of papers, together with the frequency of their citation, meaning how many scientists link to the paper, is a good measure of scientific success. The system effectively measures quantity and quality at the same time.

The whole Web is a densely interconnected network of references. It is no different from the practice of academic publishing and citation indexing. Links on the Web are also citations, or votes, as the founders of Google realized. The observation of Larry Page and Sergey Brin that links are in fact citations seems commonplace today, but it was a breakthrough at the time Google started on September 7, 1998. What Google did was essentially the same as had been done in academic publishing by Eugene Garfield.

But at this time, relevance and importance were measured through counting the number of other sites linking to a Web site, as well as the number of sites linking to those sites. What Google has proved is that people’s individual actions, if those actions are performed in a transparent way, and if those actions can be linked, are capable of managing unmanageable tasks.

Cooperation and collective work are best expressed through transparency and linking.

The mainstream business approach to value creation is still a predictive process designed and controlled by the expert/manager. This is based on the presuppositions that we know (1) all the linkages that are needed beforehand, and (2) what the right sequential order in linking and acting is. Neither of these beliefs is correct any more.

The variables of creative work have increased beyond systemic models of process design. It is time to learn from the Internet

By relying on the unmanaged actions of millions of people instead of experts/managers to classify content on the net, Google democratized scientific citation indexing. To be able to manage the increasingly complex organizations of today, the same kind of democratization needs to take place in the corporate world. The transparency of tasks is the corporate equivalent of publishing academic articles. Responsive linking, rather than predictive linking, as in hierarchies and process charts, acts as a measure of contextual relevance.

Complex, creative work requires new approaches to organizing. The Google lesson for management is that the more work is based on responsive processes of relating and the more organizing is an ongoing process in time, the more value we can create!

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On the perceived relevance of academic papers.