vSente is a marketing consultancy. We help challenger enterprises wage and win battles for market shares.

Disciplines - Advertising | Marketing | Sales
Competency - Challenge | Defend
Deliverable - Profitable Market Share
Audience - CEO's | Marketing | Sales
Scale - Small | Medium-sized Enterprise
Services - Campaigns | Workshops
Location - San Francisco | London


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Command and Control and its Role in Contemporary Marketing Organizations

Seth Godin and Steve Rubel continue to misunderstand and incorrectly use the words "command and control".

This from Seth: "Blogging doesn't seem to fit into the command and control mindset of media companies".

This from Steve: "The enterprise is afraid of letting go of the command and control structure."

The words command and control are emotionally charged for some marketers. Especially those struggling with or avoiding the necessities of business - like accountability and effectiveness. I've noticed recently a slew of marketers attaching a pejorative meaning to the concept of command and control as they try and defend many of their "new" marketing concepts which are ineffective or have turned out to be downright destructive.

There are different expressions of command and control. Command and control can be top down, centralized and autocratic, and, it can be bottom up, decentralized and democratic. There are degrees and flavors of command and control that are determined by the operating environment, type of activity and objective of the enterprise. By nature and definition command and control is not necessarily "oppressive", "autocratic", "top down" or "centralized". It's what you make it.

The Marines define command and control as the means by which a commander recognizes what needs to be done and sees to it that appropriate actions are taken. Substitute the word "manager" for "commander" and the definition is a good fit for business, and specifically for contemporary marketing organizations under fire to prove their worth within the enterprise.

The Marines describe two forms of command and control called mission and detailed. Mission command and control is designed for unpredictable, rapidly changing situations requiring decentralized organizational structure and front-line decision authority. Detailed command and control is designed for predictable, static situations driven by a centralized hierarchy. Here is how they describe the difference between mission and detailed command and control:

Detailed C&C assumes war is deterministic and predictable. Mission C&C assumes war is probabilistic and unpredictable.

Detailed C&C seeks order and certainty. Mission C&C accepts disorder and uncertainty.

Detailed C&C tends to lead to centralization, coercion, formality, tight reign, imposed discipline, obedience, optimizing, ability mostly at the top. Mission C&C tends to decentralization, spontaneity, informality, close reign, self-discipline, initiative, cooperation, satisficing , ability throughout.

Detailed C&C communications are explicit, vertical and linear. Mission C&C communications are implicit, vertical and horizontal and interactive.

Detailed C&C organizations are mechanistic and bureaucratic. Mission C&C organizations are organic and ad hoc.

Detailed C&C leadership is authoritarian and telling. Mission C&C leadership is persuasive and delegating.

Detailed C&C is appropriate to science of war and technical, procedural tasks. Mission C&C is appropriate to the art of war and conduct of operations.

Most enterprises and specifically sales and marketing organizations operate with a detailed version of command and control.

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