I’m reading two works in tandom: Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations (you might have seen him on The Colbert Report earlier this month) and Yochai Benkler’s “Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm” (The Yale Law Journal; full texts available through link). Both concern technology-empowered participation and networking as an alternate mode of organization from the classic dichotomy of market and firm. And by firm, you can also read church. I’m reading them for their insights about church organization.
I’m getting language that reinforces my gut feelings about how churches (particularly new ones) and the Unitarian Universalist Association are burdened under the fixed costs of their own existence. More about that when I’ve finished and digested them.
But Shirky has a passage (p. 58) that suggests that professionals aren’t made to recognize seismic changes as a characteristic of their professionalism:
Much of the time the internal consistency of professional judgment is a good thing — not only do we want high standards of education and competence, we want those standards created and enforced by other members of the same profession, a structure that is almost the definition of professionalism. Sometimes, though, the professional outlook can become a disadvantage, preventing the very people who have the most at state — the professionals themselves — from understanding major changes to the structure of their profession.
So, in an aside to the ministers out there, what do you think? I think he makes a good point. Feel free to comment.