Where we stop and you start

John Porcaro recently commented that it was

Funny that there’s still this black and white distinction between the people who work for the company, and the company itself. Among bloggers (or any who’s caught a clue-train), we know that a company is made up of individuals–indeed, it’s humans who made every single aspect of any successful (or unsuccessful) product or project.

[Thanks Johnnie] I like the refocus. Companies are on people like you and me, rather than weird, corporate behemoths of faceless grey corporates, and I think John’s right to point that out.

In fact, nowadays I sometimes think that the main divide is between people who work for the company and are on the payroll, and people who work for the company and aren’t.

That said, I’m a little uneasy at getting rid of the divide altogether. I’d like to think a company can be more than the sum of its parts. Dunno why. Hmm.

  • I think the boundary is a fuzzy one, it’s there, but it’s not sharp.

    I think you could say that the purpose of any organisation is to allow us to achieve together more than we’d manage by working alone. Not all organisations do it as well as others!

  • I think that’s fair enough. The problem is understanding how organisations (and people) manage to do it well.

    Enron had a big “war for talent” drive – so theoretically focusing on people (not “the company”) – but I think the results might be questionable. [cf Gladwell’s talent myth]

    And with a PKM hat on, my guess is that part of what helps organisations do it well is (curiously) the focus on the personal, when people in them talk to employees as people (rather than talent or knowledge workers or assets or stakeholders). Like Jobs said, what’s the point in hiring smart guys if you then tell them what to do?

  • This kind of came up at a BlogWalk last year. The subject was blogging within and beyond company boundaries, and the issue actually became but where exactly is the fuzzy boundary of a company ? Direct employees’ knowledge bases overlap with linked communities of practice etc, as do other stakeholders, including customers and suppliers.

  • Hi Ian – more reason to feel peeved at not having been there! 🙂

    Your overlapping knowledgebases reminds me vaguely of co-evolution – perhaps the trick is to work out best how to co-evolve employees (& the company’s) knowledge bases with non-employees’ knowledge bases, and perhaps CoP’s etc are one way of doing that?

    Lots of perhapsing, perhaps not much sense!