A Glasnost moment for command & control management: My slides, notes and video from CityCamp Brighton

Horribly late with this, but for the record am posting notes, videos and slides from my talk CityCamp Brighton last Friday (I know, but I did manage to publish the slides ahead of the talk at least).

Glasnost moments: The gist of it…

Ostensibly I was combining two themes I’ve talked about before – how to analyse the impact of social media and networks on an organisation (and build a business case from that analysis) and how to think about and work with the web on a personal level (see the TEDx Superskills talk).

While preparing what was effectively a hybrid presentation, then, I was caught by an idea that had been lurking in the back of my mind for some time: that change to the way that organisations (and whole industries) work may come very suddenly, after years of the prevailing order being in a state of decline.

That decline – the sclerosis of over-divided, hierarchical structures, of bureaucracy consuming more energy than the original purpose of the organisation – is common, but collapse is not necessarily on the cards. Big companies limp along for years, decades, before some external shock brings about collapse and they fade away (creative destruction in the Marxist and capitalist models) or are radically rebuilt.
It reminded me of the process of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (restructuring) in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. These processes, which led the collapse of the Soviet empire in Europe and soon after to the end of the USSR itself, were started by Mikhail Gorbachev out of perceived necessity (things in the economy were not going well) and out of a desire to preserve communism.

Once the process had changed people’s expectations and sense of what was possible, when further external shocks were experienced by the USSR and its vassal states (falling oil prices was just one of them) revolution and regime change was the outcome.

Bearing this in mind, and thinking of big organisations in all sectors – from the NHS to private corporations – we see the command and control, the centralist bureaucracies, being challenged by external crises. The ideas and approaches which are available as alternatives are horizonalist, networked approaches…

So while I talked about personal networks skills, and business change approaches based on blue-blooded business systems like Six Sigma, what I was saying to the CityCamp innovators was that speaking about networks in the language of the corporation could be seen as highly radical, as preparing the ground for command and control management’s “Glasnost moment”.

Notes and references…

This is the video of Dan McQuillan, Benita Matofska and myself speaking, in that order.


y bit is 45 minutes in if you want to watch just that bit, but I’d highly recommend taking the time to hear what the other two speakers have to say about organising in networks and sharing respectively.

There was a lot I would like to revisit in Dan’s talk, so I plan to write a post based on my notes very soon. You can read his notes and slides in a post called Hybrids, Assemblages & Tahrir Square at CityCamp Brighton.

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And here are the slides that go with my talk.

Glasnost moment for management: Networks, Literacy and Changing Organisations

View more presentations from Antony Mayfield
Links to some of the articles I used for reference and/or mentioned are:
On Revolutions (my blog post about 20 Reasons… and Dan McQuillan’s paper on the uprising in Egypt and the web/social networks)
The accidental hero of 1989 – an article from Prospect magazine that does a good job of reminding us how Glasnost and Perestroika led to the collapse of the Soviet Union
Six Sigma, the Wikipedia entry – as I say, this process is both useful and pretty straightforward, stripped to its core and de-jargonised.