Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Companies prefer authoritarianism to democracy

American companies are suffering from a personality crisis. They talk about the virtues of flattened hierarchies and bottom-up organizations, and they laud the genius of the market. But when it comes to what they actually do, companies prefer authoritarianism to democracy. Success, most corporations assume, depends on the efforts of a few superlative individuals. As a result, they treat their CEOs as superheroes, look on most of their employees as interchangeable drones, and remain fond of command-and-control strategies that wouldn't have been out of place in the Politburo. In doing so, firms are neglecting their most valuable resource: the collective intelligence of the organization as a whole. Wired 12.06: Smarter Than the CEO (James Surowiecki)

"Internal decision markets" are described as one potential way to address these issues -- helping all the employees of of a company make good decisions. I remember thinking about "collectives" back in university -- some way to have "good" centralization -- economies of scale, benefiting from shared infrastructure and back-end services -- plus still allowing individuals.

This is another equation where people changes + better tools are needed, so it is difficult to make the required changes.

(via Tim Bray's Ongoing)