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4.0 out of 5 stars Oh No 2.0! Leading and the Social Technological Revolution, 10 Oct 2010
This review is from: Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (Hardcover)
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Traditional organisations based upon a hierarchical structure did not always know how to deal with the new. Those that do survive those that don't die. Such is the view of those who champion the new social technologies which have become available via the Web 2.0 and whilst much has been written on the need to adapt or die very little of it has been useful on how to adapt or die. This book does at least attempt to bridge that gap, however there is much more to be learnt from the failures of others than there is to be learned from the successes of large corporations. Cisco is perhaps the most successful of the examples given in this book but the glaringly obvious that a technology company should at least have an advantage in being open to new technologies shouldn't detract from the message that even very big companies can change. That does not mean that there are not lessons to be learned and Cisco appears to have been, in the past at least, as hierarchical as any other large corporation. In order to learn it is necessary to be able to fail, however a habit of failing does not do anything for the reputation of the management and the scale of failure has to be manageable. For everything they said about the advantages of the new openness and there are many socio-psychological studies that back up the benefits of being open with customers and staff about one's failures - as long as they can be passed off as foibles as Volkswagen managed to do back in the 60's around problems with the Beetle - share/stock holders are not in it to watch you fail with their money.

This book is readable and it does, for all its relentless cheerfulness, physically address the transition issues that are going to be faced by any management team trying to harness Web 2.0 for their own commercial purposes - especially if that management team is over 30 years of age which it almost certainly is. Do not, however, fall into the trap that this is something new, Post Fordism where Fordism was derived from the production line methods perfected by Henry Ford and the gradual movement in Western society away from the collective to cults of the individual, was just as big an issue at the end of the 1980's when there was much pontificating on "Letting go" and decentralising to looser forms of organisational command and control. The old Prussian model has proved to be remarkably resilient and often followers and leaders are happier in strict organisational guidelines. What has changed now is that social technologies are taken up by large numbers of people, especially those who are brought up with them and who do not consider them faddish or of little obvious use (those under 30 and particularly those under 20 who are the future markets). There are certainly opportunities; what people are having to work out is how to exploit them. The message here as it was in LI's previous book, Groundswell, is that to exploit these opportunities one has to adapt not just to them but to make them culturally part of your organisation's outlook. Dangerous.

This book does approach some very difficult issues, but at least it takes on these ideas and tries to reconcile the old order with a new opportunity and does give some very pertinent advice. I would recommend it both as an introduction to the possibilities and also as a starting point for those who wish to make such changes.
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I. P. Gearing
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Location: UK

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