Tuesday, 20 May 2014

‘Deus ex machina’

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

In this world, big seems to be beautifully linear as well: the more information pushed down to the bottom, the more pipes or channels used, the more flow created...the better it seems. Indeed, this is a world of channels, vehicles and their language: flow, block, saturation, etc. The pathways are algorithmic, pardon my language. It means that usually the roads are more or less preset and laid out like on a geographical map. You can go from A to Z via different roads—either meandering along the scenic route or taking the highway—but you have to stick to the map. In large organizations, the organization chart represents the information highways (algorithms) for the ‘cascade down’.

Success in world I is defined by the quantity and quality of the currency that reaches its destination points. In a 1,000-employee organization, the aim of a communication campaign is to reach 1,000 points of arrival. Simple. The assumption is then that 1,000 people will understand the message and that, as a result, 1,000 people will be ‘engaged’ in a particular way (intellectually, emotionally). The latter is difficult to validate other than by invoking the corporate equivalent of the ‘deus ex machina’: the post hoc fallacy. In other words, we did communication campaign A, we improved B (results, performance, employee survey data), ergo, the communication campaign did it. In most cases, this is a very weak argument dominating a strong and convenient management belief.

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