The Ripple - Edition 3/2021 (Website)

The platform of Airbnb connects prop- erty owners with travelers seeking overnight accommodations. Although Airbnb does not own any properties itself, it owns the flows of information. This interconnection makes Airbnb more valuable than most established hotel chains. Property owners and travelers continuously flock to the Airbnb platform because of the quality of their information connections - measured in ease-of-use, convenience and reliability. Moreover, the role of energy flows should also not be underestimated. It is energy which underlines the quality of the interconnections. Energy is made visible in an organizational setting through the motivation of employees and their willingness to go the extra mile to get things done. In an environ- ment which is characterized by trust and fueled by meaning, energy flow in a human context is boosted. People are energized when they understand the purpose of their work and how it contributes to a meaningful outcome.

W H E R E I S L E A D E R S H I P N E E D E D ?

From the perspective of the machine paradigm, leaders are for all practical purposes external to the organization. Therefore, it is not surprising that leadership is traditionally regarded as residing mostly at the "top" of an organization. Perched at an eagle's loft perspective, leaders can look down on their machine and objectively figure out how to “tweek” it. On the other hand when the organiza- tion is regarded as a living network, this perspective has distinct consequences for leaders. First of all, a living network normally has no clear top or bottom. There are only networks nested within networks in a living system. Seasoned managers know only too well that to accomplish tasks solely by following the hierarchical chain of command in an organizational chart can be futile. Managers often rely on a balance of authority and their informal networks to get things done. Seasoned managers intuitively understand that the power is not necessarily always located at the top.

But where does the power of networks actually reside?

It is to be found in those areas of an organization where the highest quality (as well as quantity) of interconnections reside.

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