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« Harvard Business Review OnPoint publishes my article | Main | Traditional management is blind to the value of marketing »

August 09, 2010


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Vic Williams

'They' will take Radical management and paint 12-step-program traffic lines up to it, group-reducing it to another fad. Some, more and more I hope, are going a bit off-road, doing it, and spreading the word and the way.

Jordan 1

I'd like to share your beautiful blog! But the way I feel is weak! Would like to have the person help me

Martijn Linssen

Excellent post Steve! Indeed it is baffling to see talent and energy wasted at current scales just to uphold the status quo

I'd love to see that 5-year prediction come true. On the other hand, I think traditional enterprises will see these movements and counterreact: because they "don't want to be caught in the middle" they'll enforce current strategies and tactics even more, wanting to move up and out of the "threat from below"

The inside-out thinking will continue for very long I'm afraid. I just recently heard of an innovation where personnel files and were fully digitised: you could even scan the paper on the copier and send it to the electronic system! What a waste of time, money and energy if you look at the ROI of this.
Work assignment on the other hand, something that happens a thousand times a day in stead of once a year, is still a "human process" involving lots of email back and forth

I shared my own thoughts on the clash of E1.0 and E2.0: - maybe that's how it will go?


I don't find it all that strange to see this happening, actually. Although terribly wasteful, it's obvious power doesn't give up its privileges very easily. We have had an organizational structure built on chains of command-and-control, metrics and measurements still serving the needs of Frederick Taylor, and a rigid, analytical, detached scientific methodology that removes everything from its proper context and fragments it into incomprehensibility. Couple this with careers and fortunes made on top of what has evolved into a bloated, loathsome, and moribund infrastructure, and you've got a wee bit of inertia. The intersection of economics and politics doesn't make meaningful change all that easy either.

Nevertheless, I agree with you, Steve. It is inevitable or, nearly inevitable. Not as inevitable as, say, a devastating earthquake along the San Andreas in the next 500 years, but pretty likely to occur . . . and I'm not a gambling man. Your list of where this change will manifest itself is both prescient and very interesting. I especially like your first point, in part because I think it encompasses all the others. It seems it's in the nature of most of today's big, bureaucratic firms to "know" exactly what it is that will make them successful, and they'll be damned if they'll let any interlopers like, oh, their customers and employees to interfere with their notions of openness, transparency, accountability, collaboration, and all that other hippie nonsense.

Speaking of which, I'm growing quite fond of the concept of Hippie 2.0, as put forth by folks like Luis Suarez (@elsua), Jay Deragon (@jderagon), and others at I see this beast as the engine(s) that will lead those gains in productivity you write of. Perhaps slowly, and in fits and starts but, as you point out, coming to an enterprise near you soon. It's clear we need a new philosophy of not only how work can, and should, get done, but also why, and for whom, it should be done. As Russ Ackoff used to say (not verbatim, of course) It's not enough to be excellent problem solvers, we need to be able to solve the right problems. What I think you, I, and others see is the beginning of the best and most useful way to identify what those problems are, or to inform a change of direction when we turn out to be wrong.

Thanks for a wonderful post. In this world, I find it valuable to encounter some assurance this kind of thinking may be a bit more prevalent than it at some times seems.

Steve Denning

Hi Jordan, We all feel weak when faced with power structures that demean the human spirit. But you are not alone. Millions of people in workplaces around the world are facing similar dilemmas. If everyone capitulates, then the status quo continues. If people begin to stand up for what they believe, then a new world can begin to be born. This is about having the courage to be, to live a life worth living. It's a choice for all of us.

Steve Denning

Hi Vic, Of course "they" will try to turn this into a 12 step program, but "we", being aware of what is afoot, will be able to distinguish the real thing from the counterfeit. This is about organic change, people to people, both employees and clients. Above all, there should be laughter. If people aren't laughing, something is seriously wrong: we are back into traditional management. This is about cultivating the fire of the human spirit.

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