One to Many

From a one-to-one correspondence: it used to be a single job per person. It has now become a one-to-many correspondence: a single job is segmented into pieces and distributed among specialists. A development in the world of work fueled by communications technology, we now say hello to The Big Idea: The Age of Hyperspecialization.

Redefining work
Hyperspecialization has made jobs less exclusive to people who leave everyday for work for an eight-hour shift. It has made jobs available to specialists out there through various web platforms.

Hyperspecialization involves work segmentation and distribution.
• Segmentation. What used to be a single job done by only one person is broken into pieces.
• Distribution. These pieces of a single job is then assigned to different specialists from anywhere in the world with the aid of communications technology.

It’s considered as a positive development on work because it allows the parts to be done simultaneously instead of sequentially and each part is said to be of quality because it’s done by a specialist.

Perfect match?
The authors of the article identify the roles a manager plays in the integration of the pieces of tasks into a single job. But in spite of this, along with the benefits of hyperspecialization, some concerns which lead to the integration of the segmented tasks still remain.

I’d like to summarize these concerns into 3 Ps:
Process and Pieces. Segmenting a single job to pieces may involve segmenting the process as well. As a result, the pieces may not perfectly fit together.

Both the training in Organizational Communication and my personal preference have made me consistency-conscious. And thus, my desire to be involved in every process of doing a certain job. This is due to 2 reasons: it allows me to understand the issue well and it addresses problems with inconsistencies.

Integration: Would everything fit perfectly?

People. The nature of hyperspecialization also disallows workers to see and work on the job in its entirety. A different specialist per chunk. As each chunk is done by a specialist, it may indeed be of high quality as how the authors claim. But when integrated, there may be gaps among these high-quality pieces of work which may prevent it from becoming a high-quality job.

In Organizational Communication, we study the importance of organizational culture. We always pass that “getting to know the organization (or brand)” stage before we make, for example, a communications plan.
It’s not just the amount of information about a particular piece of a job that’s important; what a person knows about the organization or the brand itself is also crucial in getting the piece of job done. Thus, from outside and inside the organization may view the same job differently.

“It depends.”
It may not only be the pros and the cons of hyperspecialization which can be used in deciding whether it’s a go or a no. It’s also a question of hyperspecialization being suitable to a particular job. After all, the faster, cheaper and cheaper route may not always be the best way to get a job done.

About Alyssa B
The Composer, Alyssa Batu, is a senior Organizational Communication student at the University of the Philippines Manila. “What is OrCom all about?” has been the most frequently asked [and answered] question for her since 2008. Three years have passed and she continues to discover answers to that question. Alyssa occasionally procrastinates (‘occasionally’ here is relative, btw :p ) because she either spent too much time with Detective Conan or baking.

One Response to One to Many

  1. achijackie says:

    “It’s not just the amount of information about a particular piece of a job that’s important; what a person knows about the organization or the brand itself is also crucial in getting the piece of job done.”

    Alyssa, I agree that knowing the organization as an insider is also crucial and, most of the time, hyperspecialization outsources the “best” people for the job. But they also get the inside person to do what he or she does best, right? I think hyperspecialized organizations will do a better job if they get an insider to do the job without compromising its quality.

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