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Speed, flexibility, integration and innovation are becoming the new drivers of organizational success. Institutionalizing these new success factors requires not just new technology, but also a loosening of boundaries--between the levels of the hierarchy, between the functional areas and departments, between suppliers and customers, and, increasingly, across geographic borders. Rigid lines of demarcation--be they vertical, horizontal, external, or global--get in the way of being fast, flexible, and creative. More permeable boundaries, on the other hand, permit a healthy and brisk flow of ideas, energy, and information.
It goes without saying that the attitudes and behaviors required to make the new paradigm a reality fly in the face of traditional wisdom and time-honored organizational structures. The journey to boundarylessness is psychologically threatening, because, for all intents and purposes, boundaries are what define an organization. When the walls start to come down, people at all levels lose the safety of knowing who's who and what's what.
Because loosening boundaries is a painful struggle, organizations should take it one boundary at a time, choosing the front where gains in speed and agility will make the greatest difference to …