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Easycratie Chapter 1

Easycratie Chapter 1

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Published by Martijn Aslander
First version of the English translation of the dutch book 'Easycratie' about the future of work and organizing
First version of the English translation of the dutch book 'Easycratie' about the future of work and organizing

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Published by: Martijn Aslander on Jul 11, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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In the organization models of the 20th century, the most powerful management toolsthinkable were hierarchy, power, control and a monopoly on knowledge. But in a timewhen the information society has become such a dominant player, these tools havelost much of their significance. Whether you like it or not, organizations areincreasingly being run from the bottom up, rather than top-down.
We will need tolearn how to operate in a world where these new laws and opportunities dominate.
 And this is exactly what easycracy facilitates. Easycracy has no respect forexisting organization structures. But that’s not to say that it’s the equivalent ofanarchy. It is not a political pamphlet, it’s a way of working – for bothindividuals and organizations.
the traditional manager.
The problem
Virtually every problem in today’s society is essentially one of bureaucracy. Thereare enough individuals available to provide the solutions, but the successfulexecution of these solutions is still being sabotaged by a stifling web ofbureaucracy: rules, protocols, procedures, hierarchies and a lack of collaboration.
The solution
Easycracy is a new way of working, organizing and collaborating in the 21st century– in compliance with the existing rules, but making smart use of the opportunitieseveryone has easy access to – thanks to information technology 2.0. Easycracy isthe best form of bureaucracy, and the least complicated. And the wonderful thingabout it is that you can put it into practice straight away. Whether you’re adepartment head, or a policymaking civil servant, a sole trader or a volunteer atyour local sports club. You don’t have to wait till the next elections or theupcoming management team meeting. Easycracy is a way of working.
Easycracy is an attempt to identify the best and easiest form of bureaucracy. In the last ten years,society has transformed almost unnoticed into an information society. Technology is making itincreasingly possible for knowledge to be accessed easily and for people to connect with each other ona massive scale. The combination of these two factors results in enormously powerful networks withgreat potential being created everywhere. We're living in a world of rapid change. The combination of freely accessible knowledge and connected collaborating individuals is so powerful that suddenlyopportunities for resolving major issues are omnipresent. In practice, this can lead to problems,because the solutions o
ered are often hindered by the bureaucracy within huge, inflexibleorganizations.
We tend to do things in the old familiar way. We typically work with organization models that werethought up in an era pre-dating the information society. An era that was characterized by inaccessible,security-protected information. ‘Knowledge is power' and hierarchical organization structures were thelogical result of this way of thinking. But now that information has become so accessible, thesetraditional hierarchical organization structures have become a great deal less logical. And if it's truethat ‘knowledge is power’ – and who ever doubted that? – then haven't we all become powerful, nowthat we all have access to that knowledge?It's not only the bureaucratic rules that are getting in the way of progress. At least as important are ourown deep-seated habits. We are acquiring new insights, new powers, new possibilities, but we can'talways get to grips with them – precisely because we are so used to falling back on our old ways of thinking and familiar ways of working.Easycracy is therefore just as much a process of awareness. We have to get used to the idea thatmanaging an organization top-down is quite di
erent from managing it bottom-up. And the questionis: will there be a 'top' in easycracy and in the near future? Collective intelligence, sharing knowledge insmart ways, radical transparency, openness, connecting, swarms – these are typical of the themes intoday's modern organization structures where we are no longer thinking in terms of bottom-up or top-down. Easycracy is much less linear in character and strives to link all these themes together.
Easycracy doesn't o
er any ready-made solutions, it is more a way of thinking. Easycracy o
ers pointsfor discussion that enable everyone to think up solutions for themselves and to make use of theoptions that already exist.Easycracy isn't a form of anarchy. It's not a revolutionary movement dedicated to overthrowing thesebureaucratic systems. Because there's nothing essentially wrong with bureaucracy. If we want to buy aplate of sushi at a street market stall, for example, then it's comforting to know that there are o
cialinstances responsible for checking that the sushi doesn't contain too many bacteria. And it's also goodto know that there are other instances that draw up rules to prevent the sea from being overfished, sothat our grandchildren also have the choice of a plate of sushi.What does have a stifling e
ect on individuals, and throws up obstacles to solutions, is an excessiveamount of bureaucracy. The easycratic way is to discover new ways of thinking so that problems areviewed as opportunities. And to convert these opportunities into creative solutions.
Within all large groups of people, in every organization, you will meet people who are conservative-minded and people who embrace change. This book is intended predominantly for individuals whostrive for improvements. More specifically, for people who realize that an improvement is, bydefinition, a change, however upsetting that can be, because changes are typically accompanied byinsecurities. The average easycrat would be someone who works with enthusiasm and passion.Someone who prefers to roll up their sleeves rather than cut corners. Someone who isn't looking tohide, but dares to take the initiative and stick their neck out. Someone who feels intuitively that the oldway is often no longer the right way. Someone who is socially aware, takes responsibility and wants to
increase their e
ectiveness. Someone who doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel, but wants to make useof the opportunities that are already there.
Easycracy is not specific to a certain type of organization. Government or industry, it doesn't reallymatter. Just as bureaucracy dominates in both government institutes and large commercial companies.For an easycrat it doesn't make any di
erence whether the easycratic way of working is applied in anon-profit environment to resolve a social issue, or in the context of increasing the market share of amultinational listed on the stock exchange.
And neither is easycracy linked to ranks or classes. Anyone can be an easycrat, from the CEO to theyoungest waiter, from minister to civil servant. Easycracy runs right through all existing hierarchies. Viacountless formal and informal networks, contacts exist between the high-ranked and the low-rankedwithin the existing hierarchical structure. Individuals communicate with each other and these contactsimpact not only the decision-making process, but increasingly – and with ever more significantconsequences – directly on the implementation of new initiatives.
But the traditional, conservative-thinking manager or supervisor can also benefit from knowledgeabout easycracy. Because every manager knows, deep down, that conservatism can never be more thana temporary strategy designed to help an organization survive. However perfect an organization maybe, the world around it will continue to evolve. The environment of an organization is constantlychanging. The customer's demands are changing, the needs of employees are changing, the supply inthe labour market is changing, technology is changing and the competitor's range of goods andservices is changing. And if it wasn't already complex enough, as a result of this continuous stream of changes, the threats and competition aren't just coming from the usual suspects. KLM isn't competingonly with Easyjet, but also with new high-speed trains that may become a viable alternative for airtravel. Coca-Cola isn't competing just with Pepsi, but also with a brand of drink that's launching a newand improved fresh fruit juice onto the market. The popular Dutch commercial TV station RTL isn't justhaving to compete with the other main commercial TV station SBS6 and with the public broadcastingcompanies, but also with film DVDs that can be found in record shop bins at two euros apiece. Thepopular café-bar isn't just having to deal with the threats of customers switching allegiances to thenew trendy café in town, it's also competing against people's living rooms, where the customer isallowed to smoke.
So we're not making a wild assumption when we say that every organization that chooses to takethe conservative route is digging their own grave. Sooner or later, radical changes in supply anddemand in the economy will mean the end of the previously so successful traditionalist organization.Adapting and improving the organization constantly is essential if you want to survive.
Changes are essential. With their innate desire for change, easycrats can therefore become naturalallies of the conservative, traditional manager. Because both are pursuing the same goal – making surethat the organization continues to make a useful contribution, so that the organization will have aviable future.
An indirect benefit for the traditional managers is that the easycrats are not out to pull the rug fromunder their feet. Because those in power are often deeply suspicious of change-oriented powers withintheir organization. In the 20th century management theories, hierarchy played a crucial role.

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Martijn Aslander added this note
@frans dank voor je bijdrage!
Frans Somers added this note
ff snel: het is 'being run bottom up, top down' ,1e alinea. En 'this is what easycracy facilitates' is nettere Engels qua stijl, zegt mijn inzicht gebaseerd op 2 jaar verblijf op dat eiland. Text heeft nogal een 'hollands accent' zal ik maar zeggen. Best is om een native speaker er naar te laten kijken uiteraard

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