Horizontal & Vertical Collide

As I was fine-tuning my dissertation about how respected leaders work in horizontal, boundary spanning environments, I read a story in the Washington Post.

In Staff Finds White House in the Technological Dark Ages, Kornblut writes “Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts. What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.” (A March ’09 update appears here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/01/AR2009030101745.html?sub=AR)

This brought to mind so many stories from my research participants about the challenges of bringing innovations from the horizontal into the vertical, as well as stories about the tensions between knowledge management and information technology shops.  I’ve added a postscript in the dissertation about watching the strategies Obama and his staff use to integrate two very different ways of thinking and working.

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