Communication is organization (cit.). Technological "factor" and legal factor are not enough #CitaregliAutori

I gladly share with the SGI community (and with all interested persons) this contribution previously published on Nòva24, Il Sole24Ore (April, 2015)  

#Citate the Authors


Despite all the critical issues, in terms of access and use, of the digital and cultural divide, revealed by studies and research, the Internet is increasingly revealing that new communicative and cognitive ecosystem (1998) which allows "new" social actors to try to undermine (even if, as has been said several times, for the moment the opportunities mainly concern elites and pressure groups, more or less enlightened), not only structures, hierarchies, relationships of power, “inside” and “outside” the complex organizations, but also old mechanisms for prioritizing political and media agendas. It is a complex and delicate phase in which not only the "forms" and methods of communication (sharing, access, processing, distribution, etc.) and of social production of knowledge but also, and above all, the citizenship (locally and globally), the very concept of "being a citizen" and, therefore, democracy. On the agenda is the absolutely crucial question of the information and knowledge asymmetries; and it is – I often repeat – at the very least curious that we should still be talking about it after more than twenty years, with some indicators that have even worsened.

Therefore, the need for one continues to be felt new culture of communication (2005) which – it should be noted – in addition to being conceptually oriented, can no longer afford the luxury of being abstract, theoretical, and/or vaguely generic. Although on this point it is of fundamental importance to be clear: “theory” and “research” (an issue that we have already dealt with several times in the past, including here) are not separate, isolated or, worse still, as one would have us believe, antithetical dimensions: they constantly feed each other , also and above all at the level of scientific research, but not only: also at the level of organizational practice (even of daily life), the operational tools are certainly important for evaluating, but they are always the "well-formed minds" (logic, schemes , models, method, connections) and, with them, the organizational and group cultures (of which the tools are part) to make the difference. On the contrary, the theory continues to be told/narrated and, even more, perceived as something useless, almost a waste of time; by now, only the "results" seem to count (do count) and not the method/logic behind it (of vital importance); only the solutions and not the problems, only the answers and not the questions. Potentially everyone has solutions to offer (often linked to that persuasive power of language and of a certain communication which is considered as such, only if it is convincing…) with almost absolute certainty, while scientific research itself (even the so-called sciences “ hard") speaks, already from the last century, of knowledge with an exclusively probabilistic and statistical value (I also refer to a previous contribution on the condition of knowledge) .

Not understanding, in doing so, the very close correlation between the two dimensions/activities and the weight of a very serious perspective error, equal to that committed in the adoption of reductionist and deterministic explanations and in the excessive specialism/fragmentation of knowledge and disciplines, now almost completely "incapable" of an overall vision, of a global and overall point of view, of a look at that complexity of reality that can no longer be traced back to traditional scientific and non-scientific schemes and categories. A complexity which, as repeated over and over again in the past years, requires education and training in complexity (logic, method, awareness of epistemological and methodological issues, the underlying philosophy of etc.) and not just technical skills . In other words, the ambivalence, interdependence and, precisely, the complexity of systems and phenomena require a great ability to identify and know how to recognize the connections existing between the different levels of analysis (forma mentis), in order to then be able to evaluate and decide , albeit in contexts of "limited rationality" (Simon). We cannot be satisfied with describing what exists (perhaps a little methodological rigor would not hurt), with reports and statistical data, perhaps read superficially. We desperately need critical thinking (centrality of school and university) and a methodologically oriented approach to complexity, otherwise we will "navigate by sight", without a map showing us the possible routes.

And, paradoxically, precisely in such a complex phase of change in which numerous observers – in many cases, the same ones who then consider the theoretical problems secondary – with a certain delay, speak of anthropological transformation, of the need for a new paradigm, of new interpretative models and/or to redefine new conceptual categories (issues we had addressed in the mid-1990s).

Consequently, also for what concerns communication and organization ("communication is organization" - Dominici 2000, 2005 and following), a "new culture" is needed based on rigorous and methodologically valid processes of evaluation and monitoring of actions, strategies, of the policies put in place (the tools for empirical surveying have been refined, there is no theoretical-interpretative model of the change taking place…). In short, one new culture of communication which - it seems trivial but it is not - must be "built" on the recipients, starting from ex ante, ongoing and ex post evaluation processes. This is a matter of strategic importance which, in theory, could be taken for granted by now; in reality, beyond the dominant narratives in public discourse, observing and analyzing the (still) hegemonic organizational cultures - with the relative models and strategies, which constitute their operational translation - this is not yet the case and the road ahead is long.

An extremely complex road, which will certainly not turn out to be easier, more direct and "faster" if we continue to define strategies based on erroneous belief that "technological factor" and "legal factor", in addition to being the only "variables" capable of ensuring systems efficiency and effectiveness, guarantee in and of themselves social and cultural innovation (change). A discourse that also closely concerns the little consideration enjoyed by strategic "variables" such as the human and social capital it's the same quality of relationships in organizations and social systems: think of the same concepts as organizational well-being, Of social organization (the scientific literature is extremely articulated, starting from some classics of the social sciences up to the most recent works; in this sense, I suggest the analytical reflection developed by M.Minghetti, with which I also had an interesting dialogue); to the strategic value of knowledge sharing and of “shared knowledge” (2003); think of the importance of “organizational climates” and/or the management of human resources etc. They are complex "variables", often underestimated. Think also of all the issues related to the interconnected and knowledge economy, to the very concept of a "network" company/organisation, to the development of organizations as open social systems (Dominici, 2000, 2003 and following); but also to the issues of transparency, open government, public administration that is open, accessible and functional to citizen participation (which I have defined in the past as the weak link); themes and issues that require a rethinking of the very concepts of citizenship and, as mentioned several times, of "social contract". “In words”, everyone declares their adherence to these fundamental pre-requisites but actions and the quality of actions as well as, evidently, some strategies. From this point of view, we underline once again, among the critical elements, the fairly widespread belief, not only in the circles of technologists and technocrats, that technology brings with it the solution to all problems and possible unforeseen events. There is, in other words, the risk of a technological innovation without culture (Dominici 1998 and following), destined to increasingly make the knowledge society an opportunity for elites and dominant groups. I have also returned to this aspect several times. I limit myself to reiterating here that talking about inclusion, citizenship, digital democracy without at least attempting to contrast phenomena and processes that make them difficult to achieve is equivalent to legitimize a historical social context increasingly marked by cognitive and cultural inequalities which, by now, define social stratification. After all, the same argument can be made for the - absolutely important - question of "merit" which, in its centrality, if it is not crossed with other variables, risks being and involving the merit of those who have more opportunities at the start: opportunity/possibility of access to education, knowledge, culture. Until the equality of the starting conditions is guaranteed (at least we try!), talking about "merit" and "meritocracy" risks becoming pure rhetoric. In other words, we need one "communication of doing", opposite, antithetical, to one "communication of saying" (cit.), functional only for building a good image/reputation. There communication (which is complexity And complexity management -> information and knowledge.) would thus also be configured as real agent of emancipation and citizenship (…).


NB: On topics and issues related to the study, analysis and management of complexity of organizational systems and complex organizations I also refer to a long (but, I hope, interesting) interview Hypercomplexity and ethics with the magazine Meet the manager and I take this opportunity to point out – with particular pleasure, considering the many affinities – the interesting work of Alberto F.De Toni and Giovanni De Zan, The dilemma of complexity, Marsilio, Venice 2015 (1st ed. October 2015)

From the cover of the volume: “Karl Popper stated that «awareness does not begin with cognition or with the collection of data or facts, but with dilemmas». What must organizations do to cope with the growing external complexity? Should they increase the internal complexity to counteract the external one, or should they select part of the external complexity to "reduce" it? This is the complexity dilemma. Organizational capabilities are needed to navigate complexity. The book proposes a methodology for assessing the complexity and for measuring the capabilities necessary to manage it and the performance, in order to verify the consistency between these variables. The methodology is tested in five company cases which highlight its applicability and effectiveness. Dedicated to people aware that knowledge begins with dilemmas".

NB: Copying is a crime but, above all, it is profoundly incorrect, always mention the sources and authors. Also because…what satisfaction can be given by appropriating other people's ideas, concepts and studies by presenting them as one's own and original, I haven't understood it and I will never understand it. Happy reading and, I hope, happy sharing!


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