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Cisco ‘Socialism’

An interesting profile of Cisco CEO John Chambers in Fast Company details how he instituted a radical, decentralized, bottom-up approach to product development and management. Well worth a read.

In fact, the only thing wrong with it is the title. What Chambers did — eliminating a top-down management structure — is actually the antithesis of socialism. Socialist systems are the ones dominated by centralized, command decision making, not individual initiative and enterprise. In fact, what Chambers did is apply the lessons of free market capitalism to corporate America. One of the enduring ironies of America is that corporations as an bloc favor the free market — until they ask for a bail-out — yet internally and individually govern in a top-down, hierarchal fashion because that’s presumed to be the only effective way to manage a company.

Ah, well. It may be inaccurate, but it makes for a sexy headline.