Cari lettori di LLO, da tempo non pubblichiamo e non è certo che lo faremo ancora in futuro. Ma oggi ho sentito la mancanza di questo spazio, e approfitto per mettervi al corrente di una piccola iniziativa di tre di noi leaderlessnauti: Paolo Bruttini, Paolo Magatti e io saremo a Londra il prossimo 22/23 novembre, alla Opus International Conference, per presentare un paper sulla Leaderless Organization che trovate qui sotto. Un pensiero che è nato e cresciuto in questo spazio, e che vogliamo ancora una volta condividere con voi……
There is great concern displayed in the organisational studies of today regarding the impacts the new digital culture is having on the social and organizational realms of society. The so-called 2.0 reality is regarded on one hand as “the big revolution”, which has profoundly changed the way people view their futures and the future of their relationships. On the other hand however, this new world we are facing is often perceived as being problematic.
Many questions arise in regards to the individual and collective understanding of this digital culture.
What do we mean exactly when we talk about the 2.0 reality? Are we able to understand what the most relevant differences of our social environment are in comparison to the past? Are we able to detect the main characteristics of the new digital culture? What is the real impact of this change, if any, within organisations and the corporate culture? What are the most significant differences in how people now relate to each other in groups and organisations?
When we began, back in 2007, to observe the so-called phenomenon of the leaderless organisations, we tried to find some possible answers to these very questions. The new organisational formats, born from the spreading of the Internet’s digital culture, displayed new mechanisms of leadership and membership that became visible in groups and organisations; but, at the same time, they engendered anxieties of more subtle forms of over control.
Since then, we’ve been exploring the Leaderless Organization in different ways – discussion meetings, group and training experiences, a blog (https://leaderlessorg.wordpress.com/) – and we have tried to combine our different points of view together through our common backgrounds as trainers, researchers, writers and psychosocial analysts. The aim of this paper proposal is to share our findings as they are now, partial, incomplete, but hopefully, we believe, consisting of some intriguing hints that could be useful to discuss.
Certainly, the World Wide Web gives rise to social innovation, hence promoting new forms of relationships (“The medium is the message”, said Marshall McLuhan back in the 70s). However, it is also evident that those new forms of relationships have at the same time contributed to a spread, within the social context, of a large amount of fear, uncertainty and loss of identity.
Some evidence can be provided:
– the speed of change in the social environment, where a high number of micro-phenomena of change create social innovation, but at the same time are perceived by people as being meaningless
– Internet’s “open communities” that are based on free sharing and flexible identities, also contribute to an enhanced common feeling of diminished social bonds
– new forms of exchange, like open source, peer to peer and social networks, change relationships within both groups and organisations, giving life to flexible forms of leadership and hierarchy. However, those same forms weaken the bond between people and organisations, which can hardly contain the basic anxieties.
Starting from these assumptions, the aim of this paper is to discuss the new issues that the “leaderless organisation” asks us to face. Our common purpose is not to give impossible answers, but to instead offer the opportunity for new questions to be asked, by exploring the 2.0 reality from three different perspectives, which each one of us has developed through her/his professional experience, therefore underlining “three contemporary paradoxes”:
1. the paradox of leadership. Charismatic leadership has often been regarded as an authoritarian form of leadership, centred around the strong personality of the leader. Is it a paradox to imagine that today the “charismatic bond” between leader and followers, as it was described by Max Weber, – which is highly visible in all the social movements that are spreading within the global context – could be a useful clue for better understanding all the new dynamics between micro and macro phenomena of change that seem to be centred in a new “power of the followers”?
2. the paradox of relationships. In today’s organisational realm, P2P (peer to peer) relationships seem to be based on the “affective” code, developed by the Italian psychoanalyst Franco Fornari. We will therefore explore how the hierarchical organization, traditionally based on the “paternal/maternal code”, gives space to auto-organizational forms based on the “brothers code”.
3. the paradox of power: the very same idea of power seems to be under an ongoing transformation, shifting from a model of power, based on a tight connection between authority – the sovereign power that defines boundaries and limits – and discipline – rules and control mechanisms – towards a “pervasive” form of power that sinks into the vital forces of the subject, like work, creativity, innovation. A new form of power, which is less visible but more diffused, could be defined as Michel Foucault said, bio-politic.