How to define influence in the modern organization

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Defining the new influence
  3. About Philip Sheldrake


Does your boss have more influence than you? Of course she does. Likewise, her boss. That’s how organizations work. More specifically, that’s a fundamental characteristic of functional structures with a command and control hierarchy.

But the modern workplace is changing. Flatter organizations, flash teams, collaboration beyond the walls of the corporation, and the new tools to harness these forces are conspiring against old hierarchies. So what replaces hierarchy as an indicator of influence? This report situates influence in the organizational context, highlights how information technologies are transforming our understanding of influence, and how such understanding causes us to change the way we organize ourselves.

Key findings include:

  • Managers can apply “social physics” to understand influence flow. So-called influence metrics like Klout confuse popularity for influence. Modern collaboration tools are useful for mapping the organizational equivalent of a social graph.
  • “Social badges” and indoor tracking technology may sound Orwellian, but in combination with work-related social graphing they can enable decentralized self-organization.
  • A key – and measurable – objective for managers and individual contributors alike should be to help individuals build relationships focused by need and desire, knowledge and capability, and shared objectives.



Thumbnail image courtesy of: Photodisc/Thinkstock.

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