Organizational costs: old vs. new

Corporate organizations that predate the Internet were built based upon a military or “span of control” model. While it evolved over thousands of years from Roman times, there have been limited changes, even with the introduction of telecommunications and computers. The foundation was that a manager/leader could directly manage a specific number of direct reports. This was due to the need to gather information, understand the bigger picture, and provide leadership to the team. From the Army website, here is the traditional Army organization.


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Trains, planes, and mainframes

Railroads and trains are a special part of U.S. history.  I remember visiting Drew Lewis, CEO of Union Pacific in 1992 when their headquarters was in Bethlehem, PA.  The hallways were adorned with historic paintings and the atmosphere of adventure and exploration was intoxicating.  Railroaders have their own lingo, some of which we still use to this day.  For example “deadbeat”.  Webster’s says “one who persistently fails to pay his debts or way.”  It originated over 100 years ago when railroad workers noticed that loaded cars passing over rail joints made a different sound than empty cars.  The empty ones made a “dead beat” and were seen to not be paying their way.

For passenger transportation in the U.S.,  railroads had their time between the years when significant rails were laid and the advent of the Interstate Highway system and commercial flights.  Even with Carl Grey’s introduction of the Streamliner in 1935, the passenger train dwindled in importance with the exception of commuter loads and the Northeast corridor.

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