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Software Changes Corporate Culture


A new form of software called "groupware" may be changing corporate culture by freeing employees from the limitations of traditional hierarchies and creating new ways for people to work together. These changes are likely to result in differences in the qualities that managers seek in prospective employees.

Groupware enables hundreds of people to share information simultaneously. Groupware networks allow all levels of workers access to information previously available only to their supervisor and managers; networks also give the rank-and-file the ability to join on-line discussions with senior executives.

In these new interactions, people are judged more by what they say than by their rank on the corporate ladder. According to a lieutenant-colonel at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, "Rank doesn't really matter when you're on-line."

Managers find that the new networks can free up their time. Many communications that previously went through managers can now be handled directly between employees. As one manager put it, "Problems can now be resolved at the lowest practical level, freeing me to work on more pressing policy and strategy issues."

To function well in this new corporate culture, employees need a certain level of self-confidence and creativity. They also need the ability to take the initiative. Thus, as organizations begin making use of "groupware," interviewers may find those qualities assuming greater importance.