Fascinating stories about two presidential campaigns and how they embody modern management

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_organizations, a modern tale of management :

 

Contemporary organisational innovation

A prime example of progression from the antiquated hierarchical structures with its layers of middle management staffed by gate keepers congesting the flow of communications can be found in the 2008 Presidential Campaign conducted by Barack Obama. Obama’s team harnessed the potential of social media to create a flat structure. Local activists were communicated with directly from campaign headquarters. Individuals became leaders in their own domain. They were able to access campaign material, and register supporters immediately upon accessing material provided online via the campaign website.
This innovative form of campaign allowed Obama to raise $750 million, primarily from small donors, along with registering one and half million volunteer campaign workers in twenty seven thousand campaign groups. However, following the appointment of Jim Messina as the campaign manager for the 2012 Presidential campaign the 2008 strategy was declared antiquated – indeedSteven Spielberg reportedly advised Messina to blow up the 2008 campaign it was so out of date.
In a future where any task that can be described as predictable or repetitive will invariably be delegated to forms of artificial intelligence, the old hierarchical command and control systems will become largely redundant. Success will be premised on speed and innovation, on the ability of organizations to synthesize real time information and perform strategic pivots that will allow immediate access to new opportunities. The 2012 Presidential election presaged how this may look in practice. Whilst the campaign remained grassroots oriented, continuing to harness social media, the engine behind the effort was a metrics driven campaign. The sheer magnitude of the data organizing effort was staggering, but all within one single comprehensive database.[23][24]
In what was the largest political campaign in US political history, the technical staff utilized consumer data along with demographic information to devise a more accurate model of the electorate – in small slices. By taking cognizance of the ‘Long Tail’ of human preferences,[25] analysts were able to develop micro campaigns that targeted key demographic groupings that many had predicted would not vote due to the impact of the economic downturn and high unemployment that underscored the administration’s failure to deliver a quality of prose in government that had been promised by the poetry of the campaign. By identifying who the voter actually was through data mining and attaching a support score of 1–100 for each individual voter, the campaign team were able to build a macro picture of the election by breaking it down in its component parts.[26]
The campaign itself became an evolutionary process designed to react to ‘just in time information’ that allowed the campaign to pivot in a new strategic direction to meet identified demand.[24] This development from rigid hierarchical structures to an infrastructure deliberately designed to support innovative, but empirical evidenced decision making, represents the future of organizational development. Steve Jobs spoke of the need for future organizations to be run by ideas not hierarchies.[27]

The problem when employers and employees pretend it’s for life

Today, few companies offer guaranteed employment with a straight face; such assurances are perceived by employees as naive, disingenuous, or both. Instead, employers talk about retention and tenure with fuzzy language: their goal is to retain “good” employees and the time frame is . . . indefinitely. This fuzziness actually destroys trust—the company is asking employees to commit to itself without committing to them in return. (…)
  
Both parties act in ways that blatantly contradict their official positions. And thanks to this reciprocal self-deception, neither side trusts each other. Not surprisingly, neither side profits as fully as it might from their relationship. Employers continually lose valuable people. Employees fail to fully invest in their current position because they’re constantly scanning the marketplace for new opportunities. 

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh

To put it bluntly – on good and bad organizations

In good organizations, people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally. It is a true pleasure to work in an organization such as this. Every person can wake up knowing that the work they do will be efficient, effective, and make a difference for the organization and themselves. These things make their jobs both motivating and fulfilling.

In a poor organization, on the other hand, people spend much of their time fighting organizational boundaries, infighting, and broken processes. They are not even clear on what their jobs are, so there is no way to know if they are getting the job done or not. In the miracle case that they work ridiculous hours and get the job done, they have no idea what it means for the company or their careers. To make it all much worse and rub salt in the wound, when they finally work up the courage to tell management how fucked-up their situation is, management denies there is a problem, then defends the status quo, then ignores the problem


From http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/, quoting Ben Horowitz The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz 

 

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Benoit Hardy-Vallée

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