ILD 831 Week 4  The Changing Nature of Work

Reflect on how the nature of work is changing due to the web, and implication for leadership.  In particular, what take aways do you take from Shirky’s talk and leadership in today’s world.  Is “open” a given in leadership today?  Keep the focus on the impact of the internet on your workplace and discuss ways that web-based tools can improve communication, work flow and productivity.  Describe the impact of the internet on your workplace.  Discuss ways that web-based tools can improve communication, work flow and productivity. 

Shirky (2012) aptly described how “Cooperation without coordination” is gaining strength.  Shirky (2008) noted, “the pattern of aggregating individual contributions into something more valuable has become general” (p. 252).  The economics of this movement have allowed the “brilliant, but erratic” to contribute more often (p.250).  Shirky (2008) described the open source movement as “an ecosystem”.  This changes the landscape of business and government.  Leaders lose the ability to filter out what they think is important or not important, and the people themselves decide.  Shirkey (2012) shared the example of Martha Payne, the Scottish student who photographed and blogged about her school lunches.  School administration tried to silence her voice, but the sheer number of calls the school received standing up for Payne caused the school to rescind their forbiddance of photographing and blogging about the school lunches.

 Gartner (2010) discussed how to operate in a “business ecosystem” in which “the collective” of informal groups that are linked via a “common interest, a fad or a historical accident” (p. 1) are becoming a force to be aware of.  Both authors used the term ecosystem to describe what was happening regarding information in the world.  The keyword defining an ecosystem is community.  Community can refer to a political unit or a group who share a common interest.  Both divisions have greater power when the individuals act together as a community.  Thus, leaders today should be cognizant of and “mindful about the scope and reach of interconnected markets and flows of information.  Understand how and why people are connecting, talking, sharing information.  Be prepared to listen deeply, be responsible, be accountable and be transparent (Husband, n.d.).”


Gartner. (4 August 2010). Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years [Press Release].

          Retrieved from

Husband, J. (n.d.) Wirearchy [Blog].  Retrieved from

Shirky, C. (25 September 2012). How the internet will (one day) transform government [Video].

          Retrieved from

Shirky, C. (2008).  Here comes everybody:  The power of organizing without organizations

          Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated:  New York, NY.



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8 Responses to Ecosystem?

  1. I am a Shirky fan, and I like his concept of small networks loosely connected. Communities are certainly forming online, and social media has made the ability to find and connect with others easier and easier. In the past, our parents tended to live in one place, work for one company, and hang with the same people. Now, we can be “members” of a multitude of communities based on our interests…both locally and globally.

    As leaders, we need to be connected, and we need to be aware of how our employees / students / patients might be connected … and tap into that collective possibilities.

    • lybrarylyon says:

      I agree that leaders do need to be connected and aware of their surroundings. My sports fan husband would call this court awareness. This court awareness includes knowing your opponent, but also your teammates, your coaches, your trainers and your fans. All of these groups have an impact on the game. Just like on the football field, the fans can be the 12th man and help your cause, or they can work against you. Shirky seems to epitomize the notion of court awareness at this time. I went ahead and bought his book, Here Comes Everybody (2008) to find out more on this area.

  2. bonnybarr says:

    The Shirkey (2012) talk was uplifting, and I like your tying it into the changing workforce being more about community. I think Shirkey focused more on the really big picture than just specific parts of the whole like Friedman. I loved Shirkey pointing out that it took 160 years of the printing press for the first scientific journal to be created. That really puts technology changes of recent years into perspective. I do believe that technology is definitely going to democratize the world in ways both big and small.

    • lybrarylyon says:

      It is amazing how fast the technology ball is rolling. I do wonder sometimes if things can move too fast. It seems that when that happens, the pendulum swings back in the opposite direction. Perhaps I should think of it more of as an ebb and flow of technology, but it sure feels like a tidal wave of information sometimes.

  3. millervr says:

    The story of Martha Payne is a true example of how technology has changed the world. As a young lad in Jr. High, my best friend and I created our version of a school newspaper. It was about 5 pages of jokes and gossip. We sold these papers for twenty-five cents each. They were in hot demand. But, due to a distasteful joke, the Principal called us into the office and ordered us to discontinue immediately. And so, we simply stopped. But, you can’t stop what’s already gone viral in Martha Payne’s case.

  4. Interesting post describing Shirky’s (2012) talk and his reference to calling cooperation rather coordination an ecosystem. Husband’s (2010) belief in transparency conflicts with what Shirky (2012) discussed. Shirky (2012) stated that transparency is only one-way communication whereas cooperation allows all individuals to be involved in the process and make documented changes through two-way communication. Another type of ecosystem that comes to mind is a coalition. Coalitions truly involve democratic process that allows members to bring their voice to the table and assist in making decisions to move the coalition forward. Generally coalitions are not hierarchical, but in my experience they do lack technology involvement. There might be opportunities for cooperation to be emulated by replicated a coalition in the workplace to accomplish cooperation and success. The idea of cooperation seems great in theory, but when do we trust our team members to have enough expertise, education, knowledge, experience, etc. to contribute to a project rather than hold the project back?


    Husband, Jon. (2010). What is Wirearchy? Retrieved from:

    Shirky, Clay. (2012). How the internet will one day change the government. Retrieved from:

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