Cluetrain 2.0


“You Know Something Is Wrong…

With management theory when the Roman army established that ten subordinates per boss was the right number (decurions, centurions..), and now 2,000 years later, 100 years of management schools and 40,000 management handbooks in print we believe the right number is eight.

With management practice when those 40,000 management handbooks does not help much.

With management practice when it keeps alive a whole army of consultants that lives very well indeed and the results are barely noticeable over time.

With organisational hierarchies when millions read and enjoy Dilbert every day. Worse, that most of his work is based on reality.

With organisational hierarchies when society measures your success by “position” instead of what you created and did.

With organisational hierarchies when the worst thing you can do to your boss or your subordinate is to bypass him/her.

With tree structures when I forget where I put that file three weeks ago, and I do not even remember what the folder name was.

With modern enterprise software when the must-have-tool for the very best and biggest systems is not even a part of the system: Excel.

With modern enterprise software when reconciliation is still a major issue.

…”

I agree with a far higher proportion of Sig‘s assertions in this list than I do with the Cluetrain Manifesto‘s 95 theses. Both lists contain good ideas and numbnuts ones. I guess Sig’s strategy in limiting himself to 18 statements means his chances of success are higher than the scattergun approach of the Cluetrain authors.

I want to come back to some of the statements in detail when time permits. For the moment I will ask Sig for clarification on one:

“With the whole system when on average I pay at least 50 percent for broadly defined information (think over what you pay for the actual product, it be a shirt, car or a good story) that could easily be replaced with cheap information and communication technology.”

This stands out as the least well expressed of the 18 statements. I’m just not sure what it means and I agree with so many of the other 17 that I want to know.

Oh, and Sig: the first statement is even truer than you might think. We have come to the conclusion that the “right” number is seven plus or minus two. You say that the Romans worked on 10 subordinates per boss based on the literal translation of decurion and centurion. I believe a centurion in practice rarely had more than 70 or 80 soldiers under him and their actual working figure was much closer to ours. Progress.

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1 Response to “Cluetrain 2.0”


  1. 1 sig June 28, 2006 at 11:10

    Hi Dominic!

    Yep, that one is quite obscure, have not been able to boil it down to one paragraph yet… and will not here either :)

    (Once upon the time I touched upon the issue from an accounting point of view here: http://thingamy.typepad.com/sigs_blog/2005/02/gaaps_the_misle.html (suggesting that current accounting practices leads us astray… humbly of course :) )

    But let me try:

    First I group the following costs as “information costs” in practice: Advertising (of course), retail (to push something to touch and feel under my nose), inventories (to enable the stuff to be there to touch and feel), marketing mostly (as follows the above), much of management (not leadership as such, but the control and command and reporting bit – ususally a rather big part I suspect) and more if you give it a thought.

    A. Then I sum up the costs of the above and deduct that from “what I pay”.

    B. Or I could look to what the actual creator of the stuff I buy gets.

    For books and music B is easiest – something like 10 – 20% of what I pay is for the actual product, rest is for “information”.

    For most consumer goods I buy in shops I know that about half the price I pay is retailer margin, so I should be on the safe side there.

    On the other extreme, like a car, I would do some rough calculations using A and perhaps find that about 60% of what I pay goes towards the physical object. Retailer margin + distributor + advertising + some more should add up to 40% + according to some backside-of-envelope calculations…

    (Heh, every time I visit a showroom with marble floors and Gucci suits I know more about his poducts than the salesperson thanks to some evening use of internet. I would not miss that part at all!)

    Of course extremely rough this, and with much arguments back and forth – but not too far from the truth I think – and it all adds up.

    Now, information is the simplest thing to move, and the margins there are almost negligible – thus about half of what I spend can be replaced by cheap ICT (not in one go of course, but even nibbles of a big cake can amount to good servings).

    And as money in the end equals resource-use, well, there might be an opportunity to halve the worlds resource-use if we shoot down some old truths :)


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