Welcome To the New Digital Grid, Connection Architects

Connection Architects

The Connection Shift calls for leaders to become connection architects. This involves emphasizing a management and leadership style that promotes building bonds between people, not separating them through hierarchy and bureaucracy. It has far more to do with the connection of people, markets, and even physical things than before, driven primarily by the interconnected nature of the internet and our digital devices. Our new digital connections have fostered new expectations.

The new digital grid isn’t just connecting physical objects, devices, and sensors, though. It’s also the virtual architecture of enterprise and business success. Today, an organization’s ability to leverage the connective tissue of the digital grid will be the difference between success and failure. In fact, the best organizations in the world are making connection architecture the new strategic pillar. Massive trends toward phenomenon such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will ultimately connect everything to everything. Massive expansion of application program interfaces (APIs) will result in the ability of virtually all connected devices to connect to almost everything. Hyperconnectivity will provide massive new value to consumers while providing innovation opportunities to organizations.

What does all this connectivity require from you and your organization? Integration. Your business must be prepared to integrate into the digital grid. This doesn’t simply mean you snag the latest technologies and turn on the Bluetooth. Interconnectivity must be applied to how people are organized and managed, too. Chains of command might be working well for you now, but how much they are actually slowing your company down will become more apparent in time. Both the Millennials and the need for innovation enforce this notion. Millennials are not fond of overly hierarchical structures and are attracted to the flat type of organization common among technology startups. And . . . they’re the people you need to hire to gain a mastery of these technologies.

Today’s management in particular has become obsessed with controlling the lowest common denominator in a company. Some even treat employees like they don’t have a brain until they reach the executive level, and even then, respect isn’t promised. Too many organizations today are overly focused on what I call “journalistic management” – recording and reporting. This leadership style leads to management forcing employees to waste time and energy on recording and reporting their moment-to-moment activities. The problem with this? It values a process-specific accountability over a results-based one.

Instead of measuring performance on the final product, leaders today are focused on the journey. In the case of enterprises, the journey matters far less than the end results. Whether the project was completed to satisfactory standards should be the only measurement of performance. But I get it. Middle management is held responsible for watching over their employees. Executives are concerned that management is not cracking the whip and that they will suffer the consequences of this negligence.

This is a ruthless cycle perpetuated by fear that only serves to leave your team disconnected and more preoccupied with maintaining their career. You may be thinking that’s the point – that you must scare and alienate your employees into doing their work by letting them know they are constantly being watched. I won’t deny this scare tactic works, but it certainly does not foster the connectivity necessary for innovation.

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