Social business is about reinventing organizations

29 settembre 2014


In many industries, today’s businesses and organizations face the so-called “digital transformation”. A common (and misleading) approach to this social and digital change journey focuses on technology migration to new architectures or operational processes optimization and business models redesign. While all those dimensions are relevant in our currently disruptive business ecosystems, at OpenKnowledge we believe that social business transformation is more an organizational culture shift than a technological architecture move. As we daily experience working with international companies and projects, the main and fundamental issue in this transformative journey is the impact of this technological digital enhancement on organizational culture. For example: when traditional consulting companies, analysts and enterprise change agents talk about “employee empowerment”, they usually mean building an infrastructure and an architecture that is digitally-savvy, data-driven, (and, in a few cases, collaboratively-oriented). But this is not enough. As Laloux correctly points out in his recent inspiring book “Reinventing Organizations” (2014), many of the current discourses about transforming organizations focus on “empowerment” without perceiving the paradox of this expression:“Many organizations today claim to be empowering. But note the painful irony in that statement. If employees need to be empowered, it is because the system’s very design concentrates power at the top and makes people at the lower rungs essentially powerless, unless leaders are generous enough to share some of their power. In Teal Organizations, people are not empowered by the good graces of other people. Empowerment is baked into the very fabric of the organization, into its structure, processes, and practices. Individuals need not fight for power. They simply have it. For people experiencing self-management for the first time, the ride can be bittersweet at first. With freedom comes responsibility: you can no longer throw problems, harsh decisions, or difficult calls up the hierarchy and let your bosses take care of it. You can’t take refuge in blame, apathy, or resentfulness. Everybody needs to grow up and take full responsibility for their thoughts and actions―a steep learning curve for some people. Former leaders and managers sometimes find it is a huge relief not having to deal with everybody else’s problems. But many also feel the phantom pain of not being able to wield their former positional power” (Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, 2014:137). In this perspective, we need to refocus our change action in enterprises and organizations envisioning and implementing not just new architectures, processes and business models, but new organizational practices. The Laloux’s book proposes many different organization cases using stories from real-life businesses to document how these new organizations are structured and how they operate on a day-to-day basis in hiring, budgeting, team working, decision-making and, ultimately, in organizing.

You can find more info about the book and the approach at:

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

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