From Command & Control to what?

I have been searching for the next step for a long while.

I have read and thought, long and hard about this.

I could not agree more with serious and contemporaneous thinkers: things need to change. In fact, things have been changing for the past 50 years or so. 

Not fast enough. 

Not visibly enough.

Examples have been surfacing in management books for years, decades in fact!

This and that company have a brand new way of doing business

This and that company have reinvented management!

Yes! That is what I am talking about … management!

For the past 100 years, ever since Frederick W. Taylor wrote, “The principles of scientific management” in 1911 in fact, the world has been ticking to the sounds of the “machine organization”. Slowly at first and then picking up speed, the machine organization has dominated the world as we know it.  And we loved it for it! 

After all, I am presently writing this article on a computer that is as thin and almost as light as a small book. It is even called a MacBOOK! This wonderful machine has been produced using the basic principles of Taylor concepts: uniformity, reproducibility, efficiency … the hallmark of the modern era and the Industrial Revolution. 

Our typical smartphone exemplifies this even further: accessing the whole world at the tip on a finger or two or even by talking to it. We marveled at this kind of technology while watching Star Trek in the sixties. 

“Beam me up Scotty!”

Well, there we are. Teleported in the future,

As William Gibson popularized,

“The future is already here, it is just not distributed uniformly”.

The future is here!

And it is not all joyful and happy.

The future shock has been written about since 1970 when Alvin Toffler wrote his famous book of the same name. The shock is about the speed of change and about the incapacity of humans to fully adapt to it. 


Ha !… To think that Toffler was worried about this in 1970 when he could only foresee that “sometimes” in the future we would be “connected” to a “huge “ network of computers to access any information we would need. Even he could not fathom the impact of the “www” the World Wide Web or rather the wwww … wireless world wide web. The iPhone introduced in 2007 change the game altogether! It also accelerated the way we consume communication devices and had a profound impact on society, our hunger for the “new” device, our dependence on information and social media and our contact, our ever-present contact with work.

Work is not a 9-5 thing anyone. We get up by reading the news on our phone. We go to bed by reading our last email, getting ready for tomorrow, never letting our wonderful brain do what it does best … think. We overload our brain with information that we should be able to put to good use in this foreseen and promised world of entertainment and leisure.

Oh wait … this has not come to pass yet … we work more and are more stressed than a few decades ago.

Oh yes… We have more entertainment than ever! 

  • There are more TV Series available than anyone could watch. Gone are the days when “Roots” was the wonder of the day and stopped America for a few days with its riveting story that opened the eyes of a generation about slavery and racism … past and present.
  • Digital streaming now offers more songs that anyone could listen during several lifetimes … for free!
  • Gone are the days when we would hear rumors about the new Fleetwood Mac album … rumors until, one day, oh wonders, we would walk in a record store and hear … magic!
  • YouTube now offers 300 additional hours of video content every minute. Three hundred hours of new content every minute!! Not all good I agree but gone are the days where Youtube was mainly about funny feline prowess .

But are these the days of the future that was ‘promised’ a few decades ago when flying cars were still part of that potential reality? That future where human beings were basically freed from the chores of daily work that was now supposedly accomplished by robots and computers?

The speed of our present is faster than the future of our past …

…you can quote me on this one,

Alvin Toffler is probably spinning in his grave when he looks at the Present Shock!

Work conditions have not been altered very much since the 1950s.

  • We still have offices and cubicles.
  • We still have to drive to work (I know, I know, this has changed a bit since the COVID pandemic but watch the effort form employers to have their workers back … soon!)
  • Our economy still relies mainly on oil to self-lubricate its profits and growth.

And our work structures are still very similar to what Taylor’s philosophical offspring had in mind: the pyramidal hierarchy. Hierarchy: from Greek etymology, ‘archy,’ to rule or more generally power. And aha …’hiero’ … sacred, holy, religious.

So Hierarchy … loosely translated, power from God, Power to God…

The first use of the word is from the late 1800s to describe the relation between angels … or priests.

The message is clear :

  • You are at the top, YOU get to decide.
  • You are NOT at the top … just do what you are told.

Now look at most organizations today, from governments to churches to corporations to most small businesses … there you have it a hierarchical structure.

We still have bosses, all powerful bosses!

I can hear the pundits 

    • “Is it that bad? It has always been like this…”
    • “But it makes so much sense!”
    • And sadly, “What are the alternatives?”

From Command & Control to what?

Bear with we while I joyfully destroy these three statements … in the next post!!

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