The Dark Side of Greater Transparency – We All Look the Same

John asks if IT will slowly strangle corporate outposts:

While the home of most corporate parents (America) worries that IT may not be helping the business enough, the home of many subsidiaries (Ireland) worries that IT is a tool that will force the closure of corporate outposts ….

The key problem is that as tighter corporate controls are imposed on subsidiaries, they lose autonomy which is a key component in any unit’s ability to innovate. With their wings clipped, all subsidiaries look alike to corporate HQ and will be unable to show how they add value. Decisions on whether to keep which national operations open will then move to the bean counters — and that is the very last group of people you want in charge of anything.

Key ideas – which John writes about:
– The role of the “CIO” is changing and splitting into different focus areas.
– Companies that “know what they know” by using Enterprise 2.0 tools will be in a better position to solve problems and learn.
– But, some companies that profess openness and empowerment, are finding Enterprise 2.0 tools too much – it actually allows it to happen, but the senior executives weren’t really serious.
– If IT systems are used to impose tighter corporate controls on subsidiaries, they lose autonomy and the ability to innovate. Value-add declines, and subsidiaries begin to look like replicas of the headquarters.

My Comments
1. It would be strange indeed if the very technologies that were looked on as those releasing creative ideas and innovation among employees were actually used to enslave and dehumanize those involved. A dark idea.

2. It’s been said before, but bears repeating (yet again): technology is only part of the equation – it creates an opportunity for organizing work and relationships, but the much bigger factors are the people and business aspects. Find an organization with a bad culture, give them the greatest tools, and you’ll get the bad culture recreated – or perhaps made even worse – via the new tools.

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