The Social Architecture Equation

I like simplicity and stripping an idea down to its bear essence. Doing so carries the risk of oversimplification, but at the same time we gain clarity. It’s like standing on top of a mountain on a clear day and looking at the landscape you have been walking on.

This is what I intend to do with the concepts of Social Architecture. When I look at my thoughts and writings and when I take into consideration the feedback and reactions that I got since I published the manifesto two years ago, this is what it comes down to: a simple equation.


We cannot be blind for the fact that the current reality of organizations is always measured against a social currency of authority. All the molecules are ordered in a structure called compliance.

Social Media are an expression of a fundamental societal shift (paradigm shift) and we are in the middle of it. The safe structure that is provided by the social currency of authority is challenged by a different social currency, i.e.: the currency of influence. Influence orders the molecules in a structure of community.

In short:

  • The world as we know it: authority creates compliance (a safe structure / comfort zone)
  • The shift we are experiencing: influence creates community (a different structure / comfort zone)

Important: We cannot achieve commitment in an organization by using either compliance or community. We need both:

  • Compliance gives us control, certainty, goal-setting and measurability. It is expressed in terms of hierarchical positions, divisions, departments, sections, positions and rewards.
  • Community delivers us trust, relationship and belonging. It is expressed in terms of roles, projects, teams, tribes, groups and clubs.

If we want to reach commitment, we need both, like the human body needs the structure of a skeleton AND the flexibility of the muscles to move.

Social Architecture is where compliance and community come together. Hence the equation of social architecture: “compliance + community = commitment”. Unfortunately, most of the organizational change projects are only delivering compliance… and that is why they are not reaching commitment.