Khrushchev and the secret speech

Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev

This week Sergei Khrushchev passed away. The son of the former Soviet Union leader who became a US citizen. His actions appear to be in stark contrast with his father’s service to the country. However, looking back at history might give a different picture.

Gorbachev generally gets the credit for opening the door to the West. However you might argue that – although it was Gorbachev who swung it wide open – it was actually Khrushchev who unlocked with a closed-door session on the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union : On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences

In the speech Khrushchev opened up about mistakes of the past. He clearly aimed to set a new tone.

So both father and son showed courageous behaviour, away from the common ground. That is exactly the kind of mentality you want to have to drive innovation.

When Khrushchev in 1956 delivered his “secret speech”, he opened up something that was hidden from plane sight. Though luckily most companies don’t have a legacy of cruel dictators, almost any company with a history has some unspoken hurt that gets stuck in the system. The question is, who has the courage to address it.

In the video above historian Simon Hall describes the incident and the implication. The speech sets the stage for the aptly titled thriller The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

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