Hamel vs. Davenport


I am struggling with the amount of publications on social networking and leadership, and the observation that I am contributing to this curse of abundance makes me shiver. To get some quality insights, I went to Harvard Business Online and ended up reading two related blog posts by Tom Davenport and Gary Hamel. To make it more interesting, they represented quite contrary views on the value that social networking adds to the business.

I a post entitled Where’s the “Working” in Social Networking? Tom Davenport aims at demystifying the hype around business value of social networking. People use Facebook or MySpace for social purposes and any attempts to leverage such sites at work would make them less attractive. So, we should keep them social and stick to the proven technologies for work, such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Lotus Notes.

Gary Hamel provides us with an opposite view in his post Moving Management Online (Part One). According to Hamel, we have not yet fully acknowledged the power of the Web when it comes to management. The Internet has however potential to change the way of managing people in a way that human capabilities can be both amplified and aggregated. This puts it ahead of legacy management models: markets and bureaucracies. Markets present stimulating environments which “are great at unleashing initiative and passion”, but they fail when it comes to organizing complex work. Bureaucracies, on the other hand, can cope with building a football stadium or an integrated computer system, but they kill people’s motivation by imposing rules and restrictions. In the new networked world, we are likely to see management systems which boost people’s passion and creativity and at the same time encompass coordination mechanisms which allow for major and complex undertakings.

While both posts present subjective opinions, my sympathy goes naturally to Hamel’s ideas. It is exactly the motivational factors and coordination mechanisms which are likely to be the major focus of my research on the topic of leadership in social networks.


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