Peer-to-Peer Leadership

From P2P Foundation
Jump to: navigation, search

* Book: Peer-to-Peer Leadership: Why the Network Is the Leader. By Mila Baker. Berrett-Koehler, 2013

URL = http://www.bkconnection.com/static/Peer_To_Peer_Leadership_EXCERPT.pdf

Description

From the publisher:

"Mila Baker believes that most of today's leadership theories are old wines in new skins and still rely on the leader-follower hierarchy. Yet hierarchy is breaking down everywhere in society, from politics to religion to social relationships -- and most particularly in computers and networking.

Baker's inspiration is the peer-to-peer model of computing, which is also mirrored in social networking technologies where a network with "equipotent" nodes of power -- think peer leaders -- is infinitely more powerful than a "client-server" (i.e., leader-follower) network. By creating organizations with leaders at all levels, architects of peer-to-peer organizations can build flexibility, resiliency, and accountability."


2.

"* Shows that a radically decentralized approach can revolutionize leadership just as it has revolutionized computer networking

  • Turns leadership on its head—the job of the leader is not to tell followers what to do but to create, enable, and facilitate a network of peer leaders
  • Features examples of what some organizations are doing and what all organizations can do to implement and benefit from this new approach


Our leadership models are still stuck in a top-down, command-and-control, Industrial Age mentality. But our globalized, data-drenched, 24/7 world is just too complex, with too much information coming from too many different directions, for any single person or group of people to stay on top of it. The idea of hierarchy is breaking down everywhere, from politics to religion to social relationships—why should leadership be any different?

Mila Baker’s inspiration for a new way to lead is the peer-to-peer model of computing, which is also mirrored in social networking and crowdsource technologies. She shows that a network with “equipotent” nodes of power—think peer leaders—is infinitely more powerful than a “client-server” (leader-follower) network.

In organizations of equipotent nodes, leadership isn’t fixed or siloed — it shifts based on the particular strengths of individuals and the particular needs of a situation. Rather than being guided into narrow predetermined channels, information flows freely so those who need it can find it easily and are empowered to act on it immediately. Constant change is built into the very structure of these organizations, and giving feedback is no longer a separate (and often dreaded and ineffective) process but becomes an organic part of the workflow, enabling rapid course corrections.

Baker still advocates the need for top-level executives and senior leaders, but their job is to optimize the health of the network rather than issue commands. Companies such as Gore and Herman Miller practice these principles and have achieved long-term success—Baker provides a structure for this approach that any organization can adapt to build flexibility, resiliency, and accountability." ([1])


Contents

Summary

Mila Baker:

"This book uses the analogy of peer-to-peer information technology architecture to demonstrate how technological advances can help guide our thinking about a new paradigm for leadership and organizational design. It does not view technology as a barrier or a threat, but rather sees it as an enabler of greater understanding about the integral connections between individuals in organizations and how work can be organized for optimal success. It introduces a new way to define, measure, and express leadership in a world that is now hyper-digitally connected and brings the challenges that prevent us from altering the way we think about leadership to the surface.

Peer to peer (P2P) IT architecture is a radical, architectural shift that has transformed the computing industry and influenced how society uses computer technology. Beyond that, it has ignited an interest in examining many social peer-to-peer processes and relationships where interaction—especially in large organizations—traditionally occurs in accordance with the model of command-and-control leadership. With P2P, it becomes possible for leaders to relinquish some of that command and control, and for individuals to be equals. The book itself is organized around two important concepts—leadership and organization design.


There are three elements and patterns:

(1) node communities,

(2) equipotency, and

(3) relational dynamics.

Like the colors and patterns in a kaleidoscope, these themes weave a new tapestry for leadership and for organization design. Their interplay forms a somewhat abstract but integrated look at the whole organization.


While the first chapter takes a look at the current state of leadership, the language of leadership, and the language of the peer-to-peer architecture (P2P), chapters two through four each deal with a particularly important piece of P2P architecture: nodes and node communities, equipotency, and relational dynamics, respectively. Chapters five through eight provide guidance and background for understanding the importance of and need for a fundamental shift, as well as examples of people and organizations that have put P2P leadership and organizational structure into practice. Chapters nine and ten outline the P2P implications for leadership, for organization design, and for how P2P can be practiced in the twenty-first-century organization. I talk about how decisions in organizations are influenced by their leadership practices and their organizational design, about possibilities and a vision for the future of leadership, and about the mindset, perspective, and behaviors needed to realize a new vision. The book also highlights a few companies that are already on the P2P path and authors who are outlining new behaviors consistent with P2P network communities. In addition to presenting ideas, the book provides examples of what we could do differently to build momentum toward the vision of P2P leadership. To that end, the book is more about ideas than practices and frameworks. It is an invitation for you to put yourself in a new scenario and a new reality—one that is almost undeniably imminent, whether our organizations are ready for it or not. It is intended to provoke thought, spark questions, and conjure images of possibilities that can be tested and tried in the arenas of leadership and organizational design.

This book is for doers, thinkers, and helpers. It is for those who must take action, those who enjoy thinking and inquiry, and those who are committed to helping others. It is not for pessimists, for those who are comfortable with the outcomes of current practices, or for those who think the state of leadership is well and will continue to flourish as it is. Regardless of organizational position or status, it is for and will benefit those who think and feel passionately that we can and must improve the quality of leadership actions, research, teaching, and consulting, as well as the overall design of organizations and leadership programs.

The book is not a review of theories or a book of facts. It is not a scholarly treatise on leadership. Rather, it is a journey on a new road—a road not taken before. There is a quote carved on a bench in front of my children’s upper school that reads: “I believe in the sun even when it rains.” To this day, this quote is the first that comes to mind when I think about moving forward by embracing the opportunity presented at the moment. In that spirit, I invite you to join me on a new road." (http://www.bkconnection.com/static/Peer_To_Peer_Leadership_EXCERPT.pdf)

Chapter 1: The Language of Leadership

Leadership and the Tech Revolution 4 Individuality and Equality 7 What Is Peer-to-Peer Computing Technology and How Is It Related to Leadership? 8 The Difference between a New Theory and a Paradigm Shift 12 Summary 14


Chapter 2: Node Community

What Is a Node Community? 20 The Power of Node Communities: Instant Information Sharing 23 Power to Create Change and the Dangers of Misinformation 24 Disruption of Traditional Communication Models 26 On the P2P Path: Giant Hydra 26 The Value of Node Communities in Organizations 27 Efficient and Effective Flow of Information 28 The Expertise of the Whole Community 28 Nimbleness and Response to Change 29 Real-Time Feedback and Dialogue 30 Summary 30


Chapter 3: Organizational Equipotency

The Power of Equipotency in Organizations 36 All Nodes Are Created Equal: Everyone Leads and Everyone Follows 37 Driven by Communication (Nodes) 38 The Value of Equipotency in Organizations 39xii Contents Serving as an Enabler 40 Driving Commitment 40 Engendering Positive Intent 40 Motivating Everyone to Give Their Best 41 Implications for Organization Design 41 On the P2P Path: BMW Designworks 42 Implications for a New Leadership Paradigm 43 Summary 44


Chapter 4: Relational Dynamics

On the P2P Path: Google 50 Relational Dynamics 52 On the P2P Path: Stiletto Network 53 The Value of Relational Dynamics 54 People, Information, and Connections 55 Organizational Anarchy 55 Shared Decision Making and Governance 56 Implications for a New Leadership Paradigm 57 Summary 59


Chapter 5: From Survival of the Fittest to Survival of the Connected

Darwin Misinterpreted 66 Adaptation and Mitigation 67 Protective Processes 68 Solving Problem Solving 70 Summary 72


Chapter 6: The Flow of Information

Traditional Barriers to Communication 79 Day-to-Day Sharing: Network as Communication Infrastructure 81 Benefits of the Open Transfer of Information 82 Summary 84


Chapter 7: Nimbleness and Change

P2P and Drivers for Change 90 The Space and Time for Change 93 The Evolutionary Model 94 Contents xiii The Dialectical Model 94 The Teleological Model 95 The Life Cycle and Cultural Models 95 A Case for P2P Architecture: Herman Miller 96 Summary 97


Chapter 8: Real-Time Feedback and Dialogue

Starbucks: Two Observations, Two Outcomes 105 On the P2P Path: NYU—A Global Network University 107 A Better Way 109 Summary 113


Chapter 9: Implications for Organization Design

Why is P2P Architecture Important? 120 The Work Experience 122 On the P2P Path: Hot Spots Movement 123 The Work Environment 125 Summary 128 Chapter 10: Implications for Leadership 131 Organization Formation 135 On the P2P Path: ROWE 139 Human Resources and Organization Development 140 Questioning Traditional Leadership 142 Leadership as a Dyad Exchange Structure 145 Summary 146 Moving Forward 149 On the P2P Path: Paul Polman at Unilever 153

Excerpts

From the Preface

See: http://www.bkconnection.com/static/Peer_To_Peer_Leadership_EXCERPT.pdf

Mila Baker:

"The journey to write this book started as I completed work on a major merger project assignment at one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. After going through phases of personal leadership and experiencing the continued futility of trying to fit our existing leadership theories, models, and language into a new world reality, it became clear to me what people mean when they say insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. This became clear in three phases of my learning curve about leadership: invisible leadership, leadership theory shopping, and bold, new ways of thinking about leadership and organization design— leadership through community.

The invisible leadership phase started with my first experience as a new manager and leader. I recognized that as a newly minted PhD I had a lot of theoretical knowledge, but little practical knowledge and experience. I wanted to apply the knowledge I had learned in graduate school, but I also wanted to experiment with and test new ideas. I wanted to let others learn how to achieve results and personal success on their own. There were many people I worked with who were more experienced than I was, and while I wanted to learn from them, I didn’t necessarily want to follow exactly in their footsteps.

I focused on asking others what they thought before I expressed my point of view or perspective. I quickly learned that some individuals who reported to me were uncomfortable with being asked their thoughts. They were confused, looked for me to provide more direction, and perceived their jobs as solely following orders and doing what the manager wanted them to do. Others expressed different points of view, and I was tentative and unclear in my response. It was not until months later that one person on my staff told me how uncomfortable everyone was with being asked their thoughts; no manager had ever asked them what they thought, and they were intimidated when asked to share their thoughts because they were afraid they would not say what I wanted.

At the same time, my manager did not think I was taking control as a manager and thought that I relied too heavily on consensus of the group. He wanted me to be direct and tell those working for me what he wanted and what he had directed us to do. Demonstrating through my actions how I expected my reports to behave and make decisions turned out to be too subtle an approach and did not provide enough guidance and direction. It did not take long to realize that invisible and silent leadership translated as no leadership to many.

From the invisible leadership phase, I moved to a phase of leadership theory shopping—a phase where I tried on different leadership styles to see what seemed to work best in different contexts or situations. As an academic, I was well versed in all the current theories and regularly tried most of them to see how others would respond. I tried to absorb and use not only the leadership theories I had been introduced to as a doctoral student, but also all the new theories that arrived on bookshelves daily. Keeping up with new trends and practices felt like taking an intense crash course every few months. Every conference, seminar, and learned that some individuals who reported to me were uncomfortable with being asked their thoughts. They were confused, looked for me to provide more direction, and perceived their jobs as solely following orders and doing what the manager wanted them to do. Others expressed different points of view, and I was tentative and unclear in my response. It was not until months later that one person on my staff told me how uncomfortable everyone was with being asked their thoughts; no manager had ever asked them what they thought, and they were intimidated when asked to share their thoughts because they were afraid they would not say what I wanted.

At the same time, my manager did not think I was taking control as a manager and thought that I relied too heavily on consensus of the group. He wanted me to be direct and tell those working for me what he wanted and what he had directed us to do. Demonstrating through my actions how I expected my reports to behave and make decisions turned out to be too subtle an approach and did not provide enough guidance and direction. It did not take long to realize that invisible and silent leadership translated as no leadership to many.

From the invisible leadership phase, I moved to a phase of leadership theory shopping—a phase where I tried on different leadership styles to see what seemed to work best in different contexts or situations. As an academic, I was well versed in all the current theories and regularly tried most of them to see how others would respond. I tried to absorb and use not only the leadership theories I had been introduced to as a doctoral student, but also all the new theories that arrived on bookshelves daily. Keeping up with new trends and practices felt like taking an intense crash course every few months. Every conference, seminar, and A brief period of reflection followed my work on the pharmaceutical companies’ merger. This pause allowed me to recognize that something else was needed, not only in the way I worked, but also in the way I helped others. The status quo was no longer sufficient, and neither were the theoretical models currently in use. In one sense, it was somewhat disturbing that I had not appreciated the value of deep reflection before, since that is a core of the work of a practitioner and scholar of strategic change and leadership. But I was gratified and energized that I was now embarking on a period of reflection that would lead to a new level of thought and introspection on the work I was so passionate about. I felt confident that it would inform and direct me going forward—that it would become the footprint for the next phase of my professional life.

Fueled by the merger experience (and a re-reading of Meg Wheatley’s bestselling book, Leadership and the New Science), I began a journey to explore a bold, new paradigm for leadership and organizational design. I never thought that the theories in use were useless and should be discarded. On the contrary, I thought about them in terms of the fairy tale of the emperor and his clothes. In this instance, it was not that the emperor was not wearing any clothes so much as that he had an outdated wardrobe—a somewhat restrictive wardrobe not suited for the conditions of the twenty-first century.

Seeing the emperor dressed so poorly, I saw the need to figure out what type of wardrobe best suits leaders and organizations in the twenty-first century. Rather than construct new architectural forms and structures, my approach was to look for ways to create form and structure from natural order—similar to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural approach. I wanted to explore ways consistent with natural order and chaos. I did not want to impress one more theory upon the natural order of the time, but hoped to harness some of the power inherent in that order. For our time, that order is the architecture of the peer-to-peer network." (http://www.bkconnection.com/static/Peer_To_Peer_Leadership_EXCERPT.pdf)

Five Lessons on Peer-to-Peer leadership from Peer-to-Peer Computer Networks

Mila Baker:

1. P2P networks are not restrained by geographical proximity or boundaries.

P2P networks can function in various environments including ones so small that the only people in it are the individuals in one particular building, all the way to global networks in several continents -- as a result of which, such networks are always "on" and "live."

Lesson for Business: As even small companies go global, the inefficacy of having a central command in one place that others have to follow regardless of where they are located grows more impractical. A global leadership network is not a failing but rather a strength because it ensures accountability at all times in all places rather than only during business hours at HQ.


2. P2P networks are self-sustaining.

On the Internet, peer to peer networks handle a very high volume of file sharing traffic by distributing the load across many computers. Because they do not rely exclusively on central servers, P2P networks both scale better and are more resilient than client-server networks in case of failures or traffic bottlenecks.

Lesson for Business: Traditional leadership networks generate bottlenecks where everything has to go through a select conduit. With more more people reporting to less, a logjam is inevitable. Such logjams are circumvented when there are more conduits in a more expansive network.


3. P2P networks rarely crash.

Because the work and transfer of data is handled through so many nodes, nothing happens if one or more of those nodes crash or break as there are still others who can shoulder the work and keep the network running.

Lesson for Business: This is an obvious one. When all work is orchestrated or approved by a select number or hierarchy, any disruption of that hierarchy means that the whole organization falters or breaks down. Having a network of leaders means that if one or more are unable to perform for any reason, others can still step in and keep things running.


4. P2P networks can be configured in different ways to suit particular purposes.

Not all P2P networks are the same. Technically, many P2P networks (including the original Napster) are not pure peer networks but rather hybrid designs as they utilize some nodes for some functions such as search. Depending on the network's needs, certain nodes can serve particular purposes at one time and serve more general connection purposes at another.

Lesson for Business: The whole idea of a single person having a single role is not just inefficient but outdated. One of the great strengths of a peer network is an aligned group that can do a variety of things -- and, most importantly, have the collective brainpower to be able to advise one another on different matters and therefore have more skills across more disciplines.


5. P2P networks do not restrict the free-flow of information.

There are some networks that have tiers of access, but the most popular peer networks have open access where each person decides what information or material they wish to share but that information, once posted, is accessible to everyone on the network.

Lesson for Business: The sharing of information is one of the most crucial aspects of business communications but that can often be negatively impacted by selective sharing where not everyone has access to the same information resulting in misunderstandings and false assumptions. A transparent approach that makes all information available to everyone ensures a more informed, coordinated, and empowered group." (http://bklists.blogspot.com/2013/10/five-lessons-on-peer-to-peer-leadership.html)