A horizontal world and vertical organisations

I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to Charles Leadbeater on two occasions at yesterday’s Scottish Learning Festival.

I’d first encountered Charles at an ADES conference nearly three years ago and it would be fair to say that his ideas have  contributed to how I’ve developed as a public service manager in the intervening period.

I was struck by something that Charles said yesterday about how the world is becoming a “flatter” place through the connected nature of people’s lives through access to the web, yet organisations continue to be essentially “vertical”, i.e only concerned with themselves and seeing their interests and needs as paramount.

If there’s anything I’d like to achieve over the next five years it would be to help organisations like councils and schools break free from their vertical domains.

2 thoughts on “A horizontal world and vertical organisations

  1. I very much like the idea of the world as a “flatter place” – as long as associations of lack of colour, vibrancy and character do not form part of this adjective. What attracts me about “horizontality” is that, we can each see what the other is up to; how goals are achieved; where we are going and who has the character, relevant experience and savoir faire to help us get there. Contrast this to more traditional hierarchical structures where only those above can look down on the modus operandi of others. They see clearly where we are going. We, with notable exceptions, rely on hearsay and press releases for news of developments and aspirations upstairs.

  2. A subject recently close to my heart due to recent study is The Learning Organisation. Many authors on this subject feel that Educational and Public bodies are incapable of achieving the learning organisation ideal (e.g. Senge) as they have inherent hierarchical structures which is not effective in linking individual, team and organisational learning.

    Alan notes above that one of the drawbacks i.e. access to information and I believe like your speaker at the Learning Festival notes, the web and IT technology is helping to break down those barriers and assist educational establishments to enhance their “environmental scanning” and how they use that information within their organisation.

    It will also require more focused “systems thinking” and “shared vision” if as an organisation we are to form sustainable strategies for education and public service management. East Lothian through Challenge for Change and the resulting working groups I feel is in many ways starting to address these issues and allow more transparency and as you point out lets us see” what the other is up to”.

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