It’s Not What You Think
- New Horizons in Management series
The horizontal revolution is changing the way work is organized and the way that work is managed. Like the Industrial Revolutions in the centuries before, it is a radical departure from the relatively stable past and, for many, holds an uncertain future. We refer to it as horizontal because organizations that pass through it often are referred to as ﬂat and the process through which the ﬂatness has taken place as downsizing, rightsizing, or restructuring. But, this revolution is concerned with much more than a change in organizational shape or a reduction in managerial layers. Indeed, it is a collection of smaller revolutions, each of which has contributed a chaos of its own. The upheaval caused by the Industrial Revolutions of late 18th-century England and mid-19th-century America must have felt like overnight occurrences to those populations who had not known anything like it before, and they would have empathized with the modern societies now in the throes of yet another revolution. Far from being a tidy paradigm shift, the horizontal revolution is “business as usual” for some, but a disintegration of the predictable for others. Historians, in retrospect, will see these changes clearly, pointing to obvious pre-revolutionary factors, but, in the thick of it, most people will perceive these changes to be blurry at best. The two revolutions have much in common. Both were characterized by a convergence of key factors, and both transition periods altered the preceding paradigm within a relatively short time – less than 100 years. But, both...
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