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Peter Cochrane's Blog: How can firms manage with so many bosses?

More management equals less output...
When the ratio of managers to productive people exceeds a certain level, organisational collapse inevitably follows

When the ratio of managers to productive people hits a certain level, organisational collapse inevitably followsPhoto: Shutterstock

Written in a coffee shop in Cartagena, Colombia, and dispatched to silicon.com via a free 25Mbps wi-fi link.

Societies have never been good at moving from one big tech-induced change to another.

The industrial revolution wrought havoc on populations. Production lines were thought to dehumanise people, and modern agriculture is still vilified, instead of being celebrated. And people now worry that technology will drive us towards some singularity where people are no longer required.

We are talking mass unemployment, people replaced by machines, old ways and conventions abandoned, history and tradition rendered worthless.

And it has always been that way, but it's never been so rapid and never on such a scale. Short development times and automated manufacturing can now invoke massive change in less than two years.

Will this race ever stop? Not a chance. Can we learn to adapt faster and minimise the social disruption? I doubt it.

Our political, education, social systems and institutions are rooted in a past going back more than 200 years. Such systems are almost impossible to change and sooner or later we will have to restart from a clean sheet.

It's as if jobs are going out of fashion. The dwell time of managers is now about two and a half years while people hang onto a job for only about five years.

Recently published figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show between 0.9 per cent and 2.5 per cent of the workforce just spontaneously decide to quit. In a time of prolonged recession these figures are surprisingly...

About

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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