Unless a business eliminates all people (is totally automated) it will always have an informal self-organizing social system that will exert a tremendous amount of influence on its operations. So, one really has two choices: ignore such emergent networks and let them function clandestinely or develop an organizational context or ecology that will “influence” most of the informal networks to support the business’s goals.
I suggest that greater emphasis needs to be placed on expanding what I call in my latest book (www.UnManagement.com) “the organizational sweet spot” where the formal and the informal systems overlap. That is, under the right conditions, the informal components will begin to overlap more and more with the formal elements of an organization’s systems, processes, applied technologies and general management.
This overlapping spot, in essence, represents the area where the formal and informal systems of an organization have reached “a meeting of the minds” over the fundamental goals, policies and processes. What is particularly noteworthy about this agreement is that it is not reached through any sort of formal negotiation. Rather, it’s emergent. Consequently, it’s in the sweet spot where most of the productive work and innovation takes place.