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Roles in a social network: Adhocracry


I love finding new words (adhocracy has been around since the 1970’s but it’s new to me). Most sites about adhocracy refer to it as a company structure or some sort of “job” but it works for me equally well as a description of commons-based peer production. From wikipedia:

When done well, Adhocracy can be very good at problem solving and innovations and thrives in a changing environment. It requires sophisticated and often automated technical systems to develop and thrive. Characteristics of an adhocracy:

  • highly organic structure
  • little formalization of behavior
  • job specialization based on formal training (I disagree. LP)
  • a tendency to group the specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small, market-based project teams to do their work.
  • a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment, the key coordinating mechanism, within and between these teams
  • low standardization of procedures, because they stifle innovation
  • roles not clearly defined
  • selective decentralization
  • work organization rests on specialized teams
  • power-shifts to specialized teams
  • horizontal job specialization
  • high cost of communication
  • culture based on democratic and non-bureaucratic work

Better than bureaucracy. Go through these points and consider say the history and structure of communities for the purpose of developing open source software, maybe Linux or similar. Rinse and repeat for open source knowledge (the Wikipedia community for example). Then move through your own networks involved in collaboration and see how these features work throughout them. Except for the bit “job specialization based on formal training” – but that is obvious. The “Legend in Their Own Lunchtime” member of a community may not have formal training but their passion and research and understanding may well surpass the “experts” by a country mile. The Informed Amateur.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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