Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ticking people - will flat library structures work?

LISnews points to an article about a flat library structure.
"At walking paper, Aaron Schmidt writes a post about creating a flat organizational structure at his library through encouraging a "Culture of Maybe." A nice organizational structure is fine and dandy but it is also meaningless without the right attitude to back it up. Libraries with severe hierarchies either are the result of or set the stage for a strong Culture of No. It is probably a "chicken or egg" question but either way, a library can't have a free flowing exchange of ideas in a collaborative environment if the Culture of No dominates."

In it the article the writer has these main talking points:

Encourage collaboration.
Listen to everyone.
Let natural talents develop
Make people responsible.
Set deadlines and stick to them.

Each point is spelled out and worth reading. But prior to reading the above piece I read something else over at LifeHack -- which makes me wonder if the above will actually work.

Four rules to understanding what makes people tick points out the 4 rules of human behavior -- and has a rather depressing graphic to bring the point home.

Rule One: People Mostly Care About Themselves
Rule Two: People are Motivated by Selfish Altruism (being Dominance, Reciprocity, Trade, Familial)
Rule Three: People Don’t Think Much
Rule Four: Conformity is the Norm

and then offers tips on applying the above rules

What layers are you communicating with? If people are selfish, self-absorbed and fail to think much, just working on the words you use isn’t enough. Everything about you is communicating something, and unless you get that message straight, the most persuasive argument won’t win anyone over.

Give reminders. Although some people are meticulously organized, most aren’t. Give people the reminders they need so you don’t get left out unintentionally.

What’s your social value? This isn’t your worth as a person, but what you have to offer in terms of other peoples needs and wants. It is easy to get depressed about human issues, if you don’t see the calculations behind it. Improve the value you offer and you can access the selfish altruism in us all.

So given our natural drive for self can a flat library structure work? Is a partial Culture of No necessary when you have too many people exerting dominance? Can you listen and collaborate when many people don't "think"? And if you have "leads" on a project does that create a niche social group and you have all these "norms" and no cross thought?

After reading the two pieces let me know what you think -- :-)

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