From Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald at Harvard Business: News flash — Organizations consist of people. How well an organization works depends on how its people interact and work together. Thus, every organization is “social.” But so what? How do we make use of this universal fact?
Organizations work top down through social interactions structured around the organization chart, or hierarchy. And they work end to end structured around their business processes. These two dimensions — hierarchy and process — shape the way organizations see the world, its challenges and, more importantly, the portfolio of potential solutions to those challenges. There is nothing wrong with hierarchy or process. They are effective organizational approaches to managing complex operations.
But there is a crucial third dimension to organizational effectiveness. We see this when people get things done by working in the so-called “white space” in the organizational structure, or by working across the “seams” of a business process. In their ways of working and connecting with each other, they do more than just what they are told top-down and more than what is defined as their job. This is the social dimension.