Magazine article People & Strategy

Social Architecture: A Balanced Call to Action

Magazine article People & Strategy

Social Architecture: A Balanced Call to Action

Article excerpt

When reading this Perspective, I was struck with what an inflection point the professional change community is living through. Most disciplines periodically experience bifurcations, where a clear "before and after" point of reference emerges. Something takes place that separates the eras when practitioners did and didn't have access to certain knowledge or technology. The change execution profession is living through one of these historic junctures; it is the demarcation from pre- to post-awareness of the powerful implications of what is referred to here as "social architecture."

Before the great divide, most successful endeavors involved some version of driving change down into organizations from the sponsor's perch. With the emergence of social architecture, change facilitators are able to leverage both the downward directed power of sponsorship and the upward influence of community--capitalizing on leadership's authority as well as the collective impact of collaboration.

"Hierarchy alone can no longer accomplish change" has been declared by those on the bleeding edge for some time, but, until recently, it produced little more than rhetoric and good intentions. Despite all the "engagement"- and "empowerment"-oriented activities, most implementation plans that have led to significant change have been heavily weighted toward a top-down bias. Future generations of practitioners will look back on this period as one where the profession finally evolved enough to recognize that authority and community aren't mutually exclusive--when leadership directives and social media networking began to be seen as equal partners in the transformational process. …

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