Power to the Edge

by Richard Veryard
Power to the edge is about changing the way individuals, organizations, and systems relate to one another and work.

  • empowerment of individuals at the edge of an organization
  • adoption of an edge organization, with greatly enhanced peer-to-peer interactions.
  • moving senior personnel into roles that place them at the edge

Power to the edge is being presented in the military domain as the correct response to increased uncertainty, volatility, and complexity. Clearly these factors also apply to civilian enterprises, both commercial and public sector.

Carole Eigen and Philip Boxer presented on this topic at the ISPSO Symposium in Baltimore in June 2005 (paper).

Military use of the term comes from a book by David S. Alberts and Richard E. Hayes, Power to the Edge: Command … Control … in the Information Age. June 2003. Published by CCRP. PDF version available online (1.7 MB). See John Stenbit’s Forword. See also presentation material by Dr Margaret Myers. Power to the Edge Through Net Centricity – Transformation of the Global Information Grid Slides (pdf).

Groove (acquired by Microsoft in March 2005 – see my commentary) always liked this concept (for reasons that should be obvious) – see blogs by Ray Ozzie (now offline) and Michael Helfrich. See also blogs by Doug Simpson and Nathan Wallace.

I found a weblog rant to the effect that Power to the Edge is all about speeding up information flow, just another name for Reengineering. In my view, this is a fundamental misunderstanding. Obviously Power to the Edge may call for improved flow of information: quality and complexity as well as quantity and speed. But Power to the Edge is not the improved flow itself but what it enables – which is a fundamental transformation in the geometry of the organization away from a hierarchical command-and-control structure. And such structures are still as common in civilian/commercial organizations as in the military, if not more so.

Further comment: Demise of the Super Star, Governance at the Edge.

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