Teams of Leaders Concept (ToL) and E-Business Operations

Teams of Leaders Concept (ToL) and E-Business Operations

Dag von Lubitz (MedSMART Inc., USA and Bieda Poco Dargante Inst., Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch048
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Abstract

Information Technology (IT), and the subsequent broad acceptance of Information and Knowledge Management (IM/KM) methods revolutionized the way business is thought of and practiced. With e-business facilitating the ability to do more, more, faster, at a wider range, and to influence ever larger and more diverse consumer groups, the impact of technology on commerce, finance, and global economy has been frequently compared to the “paradigm shift” that Kuhn (1970) proposed as the essence of scientific revolution. Yet, despite the transformational influence of modernity on the ancient art, the fundamental principles of business have not changed: overreliance on the facilitation of business operations as the substitution for the adherence to the soundness of their conduct fuelled rampant growth of corporate laisse faire, and already twice brought the world to the brink of economic disaster (Stiglitz, 2003; Steingart, 2008).
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Globalization 3.0

Information Technology (IT), and the subsequent broad acceptance of Information and Knowledge Management (IM/KM) methods revolutionized the way business is thought of and practiced. With e-business facilitating the ability to do more, more, faster, at a wider range, and to influence ever larger and more diverse consumer groups, the impact of technology on commerce, finance, and global economy has been frequently compared to the “paradigm shift” that Kuhn (1970) proposed as the essence of scientific revolution. Yet, despite the transformational influence of modernity on the ancient art, the fundamental principles of business have not changed: overreliance on the facilitation of business operations as the substitution for the adherence to the soundness of their conduct fuelled rampant growth of corporate laisse faire, and already twice brought the world to the brink of economic disaster (Stiglitz, 2003; Steingart, 2008).

Ultimately, a new realization begins to emerge: e-business makes cut-throat competition, winning at any price, and “devil take the hindmost” philosophy (Chancellor, 1999) not only obsolete but perceived by the increasing number of business leaders as harmful if not even dangerous (e.g., Greenwald and Kahn, 2005; Mittlestaedt, 2005; Prahalad and Ramaswalmy, 2004). Instead, the notion that “we are in this boat together” is gaining an ever wider acceptance: under the influence of technology the world has, indeed, changed (e.g., Canton, 2006). It started to converge, and now some even conceive it as “flat” (Friedman, 2005.) In reality, the world is probably not “flat” but far more three-dimensional and textured than it has ever been before. Technology converted point to point interactions into a complex set of relations that, based on networks where knowledge is the most sought commodity (Wickramasinghe and von Lubitz, 2008), and we now live embedded in a rapidly evolving, globe-spanning mesh of a “network of networks” (von Lubitz, 2009; see fig.1). Simultaneously with the development of new technology-based transaction platforms, another major technology-facilitated transformation began to occur: subtly, but with an ever increasing force, business interactions begun to move away from the traditional concept of ownership and its transfer as the basis of transaction between firms, firms and their customers, and even among customers themselves. Instead, access to goods and services among organizations became the increasingly prominent form, and Friedman’s era of Globalization 3.0 (Friedman, 2005) became synonymous with Rifkin’s “Age of Access” (Rifkin, 2003). Individuals rather than state and corporate bureaucracies acquired unprecedented power, and started to actively shape the world. In contrast to the first and second stage of Globalization, the process of change altered its direction, the flow now moving upward, from the bottom up, instead of hierarchically sanctified top-down descent of orders, commands, and directives. The boost for the change was provided by the intensification of horizontal exchanges conducted across boundaries of time, space, and specialization among individuals and groups of increasingly diverse character. Technology not only altered the way we do business but caused a fundamental transformation in the way we think about business. While Globalization 2.0 (Friedman, 2005) had the characteristics of Kuhnian “paradigm shift” (Kuhn, 1970), the forces that induced Globalization 3.0 induced business mutagenesis – a permanent alteration in the hitherto immutable “genetic” structure of the organism.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teams of Ledaers (ToL): – HPLT groups united on addressing a common task within a domain-of domains environment. ToL interactions are based on the foundation of shared actionable understanding, trust, and vision. HPLTs within ToL environment can either act in full concert or aggregate as “just-in-time” swarms devoted to the solution of specific, suddenly emerging and mission-critical tasks, then disperse to participate in other strategy-dictated activities. ToL-based exchanges are both horizontal and vertical, and are also based on the maximum platform-independent utilization of all capabilities and advantages offered by IT/IM/KM Horizontal exchanges promote development of best practices and evidence-based methods. They also provide real-time upgrades to the state of actionable knowledge and significantly elevate the range and pertinence of intelligence gathering processes. Vertical interactions channel best practices, evidence-based methods, and newly generated actionable knowledge and high quality intelligence information needed to retain organizational agility, and strategic adaptability to sudden and unpredicted changes within the operational environment. ToL interactions are free from influences of organizational hierarchies, influence of rank or status of participants, and assure maximum freedom of content exchange and analysis.

Theater of operations: – the entire complex of people, processes, technologies, and methods involved in specific set(-s) of activities within a specific geographic/political realm and including both own resources, resources of allied organizations and entities, and those of the opposition. In order to have full utility, all actions executed within the theatre of operations need to have roots in a coherent strategy, be executed in a manner that promotes reaching strategy-determined objective(-s), and the execution of such actions must be characterized by coherence and cohesion. Actions performed within the theater of operations have strategic impact but are often executed as tactical events, i.e., activities affecting only a small segment of the major activity (e.g., construction of a new air/sea container terminals at strategic locations represents coherently conducted tactical action in the strategic effort to simplify transoceanic supply chain linking several collaborating and closely coupled entities).

High Power Leader Team: (HPLT) – a group of individuals, organizations, virtual organizations, or teams of individuals centered on devising solutions to a complex task or complex task aggregate. Members of the team can be either distributed (even globally) or partially co-located. All members posses demonstrable advanced professional skills, knowledge, and abilities (SKAs) and have been thoroughly trained in their practical use. All interactions within the team are built on mutual trust, competence, and shared vision, and most are conducted using the entire range of the available IT platforms and means of data/information/knowledge exchange. Rapidly developing trust promotes intensification of sharing necessary to develop broad-based solutions to the task at hand. HPLTs can be formal (created within the organization to address a specific task), informal (devoted to addressing general issues affecting the field or domain), permanent or ad hoc.

Network-centric operations: – operations based on the maximum use of multi-layered data/information/knowledge networks (mesh of networks) that facilitate command and control of all activities. Originally devised as the means to decentralize the two latter functions, it evolved into a hierarchical up-down command approach that allows the executive levels full and instantaneous access to ground level information. Consequently, in current implementation, network-centric activities serve as a “peek over the shoulder” approach.

Actionable Knowledge: – knowledge which is necessary for and required to initiate immediate response to changes in the operational environment. Hence, Actionable Knowledge includes in its fullest form both pertinent and germane forms of knowledge, the latter two providing only the supportive background. Actionable Knowledge is typically domain-restricted even if its application may affect several related domains.

Domain-of-Domains (Environment): – environment characterized by extreme complexity of interactions among individual often seemingly unrelated subcomponents, the latter existing as individual domains in their own right. In contrast to closely coupled systems, events in one domain may or may not affect events taking place within another constituent domain. Therefore, detection of critical events cap able of producing wide-ranging perturbations and crises is significantly more difficult, requires a much broader range of expertise and knowledge, and most often remains undetected by domain-centered human experts or automated monitoring systems (e.g., ERPs)

Actionable Understanding –: the state of uniform understanding of and agreement about the purpose, goal, strategy, and operational intent developed among all actors about to participate in a complex, often multidisciplinary operation performed on a very large scale within a domain-of-domains (national, international, or multinational/global) environment. Actionable Understanding is the most critical and fundamental prerequisite necessary in the development of strategy, formulation of “commander’s intent” necessary for the translation of strategy into a set of actions to be executed (theater activities) in order to reach strategy-determined objective. Actionable Understanding assures maximum flexibility in the execution of strategy-determined actions, and frees individual subcomponents of the organization from command-control influences into share-collaborate-coordinate pattern of activities.

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