What is leadership in conversational ‘chaos’?

I was thinking about this question yesterday … my preliminary, unrefined thoughts on the subject are … that, if you accept that the hierarchical, command and control organisation structure has a limited lifespan, to be overtaken by the network (see more here), the question arises: what does leadership look like in a network-based organisation … or enterprise ecosystem?

My initial view is that, in a enterprise ecosystem, the foundations of leadership will be based on willingness to participate. Leadership will be a combination of willingness to engage and connect, and the value of those engagements and connections to the community of users and to the complete enterprise ecosystem. Leadership won’t be about power but influence. And, value to the ecosystem will be measured in terms of contribution rather than achievement.

Given the above, how will decisions be made? As much as I’d like to imagine that companies will become truly egalitarian and self-organising, I doubt they ever will. Everyone in a enterprise ecosystem will need to understand that while every perception/view is equally valid, they are not of equal importance. Understanding that every view is valid will facilitate more collaborative decision making. Importance will be a combination of that inferred by the enterprise (as currently happens) and that inferred by the community (willingness to connect/engage and value of those connections/engagements as measured by the community).

Given the fact that the best business decisions are those based on the best information (with a splash of intuition and luck thrown in), I think we can all look forward to an era of better decision making in the future. Better for individuals; better for the enterprise; better for society. Unfortunately for the accountants, better may not necessarily equate to greater financial profitability!


  1. I think the term “conversational chaos” is something that is very relevant. Bringing order to the chaos will be critical. It might not be the pattern used by everyone but I think this example demonstrates superbly how to draw leadership from the democracy of networked organisations:

  2. Thanks for pointing out the article – I agree it is incredibly refreshing. I love these two phrases in particular:

    – ‘… we created a marketplace to harvest collective genius’
    – ‘… creativity is no longer about which companies have the most visionary executives, but who has the most compelling “architecture of participation.”‘

    … wonderful!

  3. This mirrors conversations happening in Cisco re our move to a more collaborative model. Interesting to see from a Business Partner’s perspective.

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