The BBC, Enterprise 2.0 and management bollocks

I have been helping my wife edit some short videos she recently made for a client. The whole thing was shot and edited on what is disparagingly called "consumer" kit but, even though I say so myself, ended up looking remarkably professional. In fact you'd be hard pushed to tell it part from output costing thousands. In terms of story telling the means of production, and indeed of distribution, is most definitely in the hands of each of us to an extent that hasn't been true for decades.  

Then I found myself watching Strictly Come Dancing last night and marvelling at the BBC's ability to pull together such a large scale, complex, and highly professional operation. I found myself lapsing back into thinking that only a big organisation like the BBC could produce something like this. But then it wasn't "the BBC" that did it. It was a collection of highly skilled individuals working together. The number of full time craft staff has been being cut back since my own early days as a manager and certainly a high proportion of the most skilled staff are freelancers. The programme will have been put together by teams assembled on the basis of recommendation -  networks of trusting and trusted professionals. Even the directors and producers may well have been freelance. The whole thing could, and indeed might, have been pulled together without the need of the BBC.

Trust me -  I know. I was a manager of half of my 21 years at the BBC, the last few at a senior level. I know the extent to which people in suits sit in meetings "playing at shops" while others get on with doing things - very often in spite of the obstacles thrown in their way by the organisation whose espoused purpose is to support them. But it isn't. It is to perpetrate itself. It is like most, if not all, organisations that get to a certain size. They lose the plot and forget that they are there to serve an original purpose. They become a self perpetuating end in themselves.

This is the root of the biggest problem I have with most Enterprise 2.0 thinking. It is really little different from the institutional, centralised, professionalised thinking that we already have. It is about large scale corporate entities with large scale corporate budgets. It is about centralised technology decisions made by professionalised managers. It is about a monster recreating itself in its own image. It is emphatically not about getting more done better for less. To do so would take too much of a radical repositioning by people brought up from kindergarten to think that what we have now is the only way to get things done.