Saturday, November 08, 2008
Question of the Day: Tall, flat or... spherical?
What was really different about Obama's organization? We're used to thinking about organizations in 20th century terms: do we design them to be tall, or flat?
But tall and flat are concepts built for an industrial era. They force us to think—spatially and literally—in two dimensions: tall organizations command unresponsively, and flat organizations respond uncontrollably.
Obama's organization blew past these orthodoxies: it was able to combine the virtues of both tall and flat organizations. How? By tapping the game-changing power of self-organization. Obama's organization was less tall or flat than spherical—a tightly controlled core, surrounded by self-organizing cells of volunteers, donors, contributors, and other participants at the fuzzy edges. The result? Obama's organization was able to reverse tremendous asymmetries in finance, marketing, and distribution—while McCain's organization was left trapped by a stifling command-and-control paradigm.
Umair Haque bringing poetry to business in "Obama's Seven Lessons for Radical Innovators"
I love the part about "a tightly controlled core, surrounded by self-organizing cells of volunteers, donors, contributors, and other participants at the fuzzy edges." It really sings.
Personally I have always felt right at the cusp of the fuzzy edges. But maybe that's just me.