Essential Reading Series: Decentralized instead of flat, digitization of the firm, re-focussing on business & overlapping digital trends!

This working week is already nearly at its end – and as every week I have been nudged to some interesting readings by my network and “filter bubble” throughout the week. Some short readings, some long ones and certainly some contributions to be kept preserved.

Therefore I thought that in the preparation for the upcoming Enterprise Digital SUMMIT it would be good idea to make a weekly wrap-up of good readings in a little series. So here we go with the first version of the “Essential Reading Series”:

  • Niels Pflaeging: Why flat hierarchies just lead you up a blind alley – a long one
    “A lot of managers and company leaders want to “flatten” their organization so as to increase efficiency and effectiveness and to reduce the ranks of middle managers and internal bureaucrats. The problem with this is that organizations shouldn’t be flat, they should be decentralized. “Flat” just means going down a blind alley, the only difference is it may just take longer to realize it. Because “flat” organizations are managed top-down.”
  • Tim O’Reilly: Networks and the Nature of the Firm
    “Technology is leading to a fundamental restructuring of the taxi and limousine industry from one of a network of small firms to a network of individuals, replacing many middlemen in the taxi business with software, using the freed up resources to put more drivers on the road.”
  • Ephraim Freed: Everybody please stop saying “social collaboration
    “I actually believe that the phrase “social collaboration” muddies the water and obfuscates the purposes of using social software within organizations. […]
    My basic proposal is simple: we as an industry and as individual digital workplace leaders need to tease out the different purposes and use cases for enterprise social software.
    We need to define the potential benefits of those different purposes, identify executive stakeholders interested in those different benefits, and design different strategies around each of those benefits. And then, we can design more targeted metrics frameworks around each area of benefit.”
  • Sam Spurlin: Creating An Organizational Design Consulting Firm for the 21st Century
    “What will the organizational design firm of the 21st century actually sell? What will be delivered? How will impact be measured? I think it goes without saying that every client engagement would be a highly unique and specialized affair starting with an intense discovery and sense-making effort.”
  • Alan Patrick: Crossing Chasms and Digital Waves
    “We’ve been used to technology disruptions happening in regular cycles, but a number of things are coinciding to increase the amplitude – multiple technology disruptions happening together, and those are sitting on top of global economic factors that are changing the supply chain and business models as well.  The “Digital Transformation” people are talking about is happening within the context of this bigger shift that we call the “Digital Wave” (see a summary of our thinking on this over here).
  • Emanuele Quintarelli: Collaboration – from ‘nice to have’ to business priority
    “Frame collaboration in business terms, in a quantifiable way. Try to show both the investment and the returns. Also, show research and case studies to make the leaders more aware of the implications and value of collaboration.
    If you build the business case with both tangible and intangible outcomes, the CEO will be more likely to be keen on spending money and giving the buy-in.”

Additional to the abstract I like also refer to the key image from the post of Ephraim Freed:


I hope this list and this new series has some value for you. Looking already forward to next week’s edition – if you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment them here – or tweet them to or @bjoern_n