Monday, October 13, 2014

Reinventing Organizations

A talk and Q&A by fellow McKinsey alumnus Frederic Laloux about his book "Reinventing Organizations".  He lays out the 3 key breakthroughs of the next generation of organizations:

  1. Self-management
  2. Wholeness (I would call it Authenticity)
  3. Evolutionary Purpose

I would say the Bossless Organization is very strong on #1, and definitely compatible with #2 and #3.  It's a long video, but well worth watching.  I've started on the book too, and it is definitely a must-read.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When No Boss Is The Best Boss

I'm quoted quite a bit on the concept of the Bossless Organization in this article by Mary Jander, the Managing Editor over at Internet Evolution.  Surprisingly active comments too.  I think the concept really engages people.

"When No Boss Is The Best Boss"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Self-Management wins M-Prize

Self-management was a big winner in the newest round of Harvard Business Review/McKinsey Management Innovation Prizes, with The Morning Star Company winning the Management Innovator of the Year award and Paul Green Jr. winning for "The Colleague Letter of Understanding: Replacing Jobs with Commitments".
Morning Star is one of the world’s leading processors of tomatoes—and one of the most progressive models of a self-managed enterprise we’ve seen. The company was founded in 1970 with a distinct philosophy: people are most productive, creative and happy when they have personal control over their own lives. And the best organizations are those in which people are not managed by directive from above but when coordination happens among peers who manage their own relationships and commitments. In the last 30 years, founder Chris Rufer and his colleagues have built a company to bring that philosophy to life: no bosses, no titles, not job descriptions, and a sweeping scope of authority for every individual. ... At the heart of this peer-regulated collection of colleagues who determine their own roles and responsibilities is the “Colleague Letter of Understanding” or CLOU. Four years ago, the company introduced a custom social network to support a more dynamic, transparent, and scalable approach to self-management. Today, an ever-evolving (and immediately visible) network serves as “org chart” and peer-to-peer responsiveness replaces hierarchical control.
If you'd like to learn more, check out the Self-Management Institute.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Does power corrupt?

Science says yes.  Another strong reason for the Bossless Organization...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WSJ discusses bossless organizations!

And it's one of their most emailed stories, so it clearly struck an interest with readers.  Try this link or this one to read the whole story.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TED talk on the Bossless Organization

Back in June I had the opportunity to speak at TEDx Houston on the University of Houston campus.  It was a fantastic experience I really enjoyed.  Well, the professionally edited video of my talk is finally available: "What is Social Systems Architecture and why does it matter?"  It covers kind of a wide range of topics over 20 minutes, including material from my other blog, Houston Strategies:
  1. The Opportunity Urbanism philosophy of cities and how Houston is an exemplar of that model
  2. Branding Houston
  3. A transportation/transit solution for decentralized cities (like Houston)
  4. Organization 2.0 and the Bossless Organization model
  5. Reforming K-12 education with empowerment
As a reader of this blog, #4 is probably what you're interested in, and that starts at the 13:37 point if you want to jump ahead.

And yes, if you're wondering, I broke all the TED talk rules by packing way too much into my 20 minutes (and apologies in advance for the frequent throat clearing; lesson learned: no ice water before speaking).  But I got some very positive feedback from the audience, so at least some people appreciated the difference from the usual TED talk model.  The video does a decent job of capturing the slides too (use the bottom right-side arrows to make it full screen), but you can also download a pdf of the slides here.

Enjoy.  As always, thoughts and feedback are welcome in the comments.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Human Project

A couple friends of mine (and fellow M-Prize winners!) are raising money for a very cool project: an application to enable a conversation on the future of our species (yes, I wish they'd think a little bigger too ;-)  They're in the last few days of Kickstarter crowdsourced funding, so check out the video and then support as you're inspired - even if it's just a tweet or Facebook "like" to spread the word.  Thanks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gary Hamel: Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment

He does an amazing job here of packing the essence of Management 2.0 into a concise 15-minute video with very cool and perfectly synchronized background graphics.  Highly recommended.  Zoom it to full screen for best watching.  Original content/post here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gary Hamel's Pyramid of Human Capabilities

Love this!  Obviously the point of management 2.0 is to bring out the higher levels in employees.  More here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gary Hamel writes about the Bossless Organization in the Wall Street Journal

Here's the excerpt:
The boss-less organization: From bosses to mentor/investors
A hack from Tory Gattis

How do you move from a “command-and-control” leadership structure to one focused on motivating and mentoring? That’s the challenge Tory Gattis, founder of OpenTeams, takes on in his hack. Gattis argues that organizations need to abandon the boss-subordinate hierarchy in favor a new relationship that brings internal “mentor investors” together with intrapreneurial teams. Like Silicon Valley’s angel investors, mentors would provide funding, offer advice and make connections—but wouldn’t directly manage.

Key elements of the hack: Employees pitch ideas for investment—for a small project aimed at operational improvement or something grander. There is a large network of mentor investors who are able to provide funding and project teams are free to shop their ideas around. Investors can form syndicates to back bigger, riskier investments. Over time, successful investors and teams would command a larger share of resources.

In an organization built around Gattis’ hack, every idea would have the chance to compete on an equal footing and no single manager would have the power to kill a great idea. That would be a huge spur for innovation and proactive change.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Self-Management Institute features the Bossless Organization

Not sure how long it will last, but it's up now (and here in their archives).  Morning Star is a real company of substantial size that has no bosses and no hierarchy.  There's a lot of other good material there too, so check it out.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The problem of leadership and bureaucracy articulated

On the surface, this article titled "Solitude and Leadership" from a lecturer at West Point wouldn't seem to have a lot to do with the theme of this blog.  But it does one of the best jobs I've ever seen at articulating the core problem with bureaucratic hierarchies.  Overall it's one of the best articles I've read in years - and I read a lot of articles.  NYT columnist David Brooks gave it a best-of-2010 award.  Definitely read the whole thing, but here's a couple excerpts to get you interested:
"That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities? Because excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Pleasing your teachers, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along. Being whatever other people want you to be, so that it finally comes to seem that, like the manager of the Central Station, you have nothing inside you at all. Not taking stupid risks like trying to change how things are done or question why they’re done. Just keeping the routine going.

...environments where what is rewarded above all is conformity... I realized that this is a national problem. We have a crisis of leadership in this country, in every institution."
And that's why Management 2.0, Organization 2.0, the Bossless Organization, or whatever you want to call it is so critical to the future of not just our country, but all of human civilization.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dan Pink TED Talk on the surprising science of motivation

Great talk on why incentives often backfire and the importance of intrinsic motivation with purpose, autonomy, and mastery.  He explicitly calls for a rethinking of how we practice management.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Bossless Organization wins the M-Prize!

Way back in May, I submitted the Bossless Organization concept to the Management Innovation eXchange community as an entry in their M-Prize contest.  The community was founded by Gary Hamel - ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the world's most influential management thinker - to pioneer Management 2.0.  Last night I received notification that I was one of six winners out of hundreds of submissions:
I'm so pleased to inform you that you've won an M-Prize for the Hack you contributed to the MIX:  The Bossless Organization: From Bosses to Mentor Investors

We combed through hundreds of contributions from MIXers from around the world and from every kind of organization—looking for boldness, originality, thoroughness, and the ability to inspire and instruct in equal measure. We certainly found those qualities in your contribution!

The official announcement of the winners is tomorrow morning (10am EST). The McKinsey Quarterly will publish an article about the M-Prize and will send an alert to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. We'll celebrate you and your fellow winners on the MIX home page, M-Prize page and in a series of blog posts from me and Gary Hamel. You'll also receive recognition on the MIX and the Quarterly's Facebook and Twitter streams and in a variety of our partner's forums (from the Wall Street Journal to We'll keep you posted as these announcements go live. And, of course, you are now a lucky ticket holder for the 2011 World Innovation Forum.
Judges for the M-Prize included CEOs and thought leaders such as Harvard professor and former Medtronic CEO Bill George, W.L Gore's CEO Terri Kelly, Whole Foods' Founder and CEO John Mackey, "Future of Work" MIT professor Tom Malone, and venture capitalist Leighton Read.  I'd say that's quite a list of endorsements!

You can read an extended blog post about the contest and the winners here: "Announcing the M-Prize Winners: Audacity, Imagination, Experimentation"

I have to say I was surprised and stunned to receive such an honor.  It is an incredibly exciting development, and one that I hope acts as a spark to get more organizations to experiment with management 2.0 concepts, including the Bossless Organization.  If the concept is something of interest to you, please drop me a line (tgattis (at), most especially if you might consider trying it inside your own organization.

Update: The McKinsey Quarterly has published their article on the M-Prize winners here, including a sidebar on the Bossless Organization.

Update 2: Gary Hamel summarizes the Bossless Organization in the Wall Street Journal here.  See the second item.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SIDEARM Presentation to the Business Complexity Conference

I partnered up with Howard Park at ModelAnswers to submit a paper to the Business Complexity & The Global Leader Conference held this week at Suffolk University in Boston.  The paper is titled SIDEARM (Self-organizing for Innovation, Decisions, Engagement, Action, and Risk Mitigation), and it includes the concepts of horizontal and vertical compression (visual complex systems modeling and the Bossless Organization, respectively).  They accepted it and Howard was able to attend and present it today with this slick Prezi presentation, while I attended via Skype.  It was well-received and generated some good Q&A.  Here's the abstract:
The BP oil spill disaster has shown us all too vividly the catastrophic consequences of excessive organizational complexity and the potential risks to corporate longevity. This paper sets out a model for both the horizontal and vertical compression of organizations to simplify them for enhanced risk mitigation, with additional benefits for innovation, decision-making, employee engagement and action. Horizontal compression involves complex systems visualization, modeling, and simulation for cross-organizational integrated solutions, leading to better decision-making, action, and risk mitigation. We also propose vertical compression of the bureaucratic, command-and-control hierarchy into a flat, entrepreneurial, market-based, self-organizing Bossless Organization. This model is inspired by the Silicon Valley and open source ecosystems to improve innovation, employee engagement, and adaptation to the rapidly changing business environment. Bosses are replaced by non-controlling Mentor Investors—modeled on the angel investors of Silicon Valley—who then sponsor self-organizing, intrapreneurial project teams. Linus’ Law of the open source movement also enhances risk mitigation (and therefore corporate longevity): “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” The combined horizontal and vertical compression components of the SIDEARM model can provide a powerful and sustainable competitive advantage to any organization.
If you have any questions or would like to explore the SIDEARM model for your organization, please don't hesitate to comment here or contact Howard or myself (tgattis (at)

Friday, October 1, 2010

OpenTeams profiled in the Houston Chronicle

OpenTeams was profiled in the Business section of the Houston Chronicle this morning! The nonprofit K-12 education initiative mentioned is still in the early stages, but I'll post more on it here as it develops.  Very exciting potential.  In the meantime, if you might like to help or be involved, email me at tgattis (at)  Thanks.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The End of Management

Wall Street Journal Deputy Managing Editor Alan Murray has an excellent essay in the paper today titled "The End of Management: Corporate bureaucracy is becoming obsolete. Why managers should act like venture capitalists."  It stunned me in its alignment with the Bossless Organization (aka Organization 2.0), all the way down to the venture capital model and entrepreneurial, ad-hoc teams of peers.

It starts by arguing that, if management of the corporate bureaucracy was the most important innovation of the 20th century (Drucker), changes in the 21st century are rapidly making it obsolete: globalization, accelerating innovation, relentless competition, rapidly changing markets - they simply can't adapt fast enough. That's half of the problem - the other half is rapidly dropping transaction costs reducing the need for large, bureaucratic corporations (a la Ronald Coase). Mass collaboration is now easily accessible and affordable via the Internet. He then moves on to what's next:
...the trends here are big and undeniable. Change is rapidly accelerating. Transaction costs are rapidly diminishing. And as a result, everything we learned in the last century about managing large corporations is in need of a serious rethink. We have both a need and an opportunity to devise a new form of economic organization, and a new science of management, that can deal with the breakneck realities of 21st century change.
The new model will have to be more like the marketplace, and less like corporations of the past. It will need to be flexible, agile, able to quickly adjust to market developments, and ruthless in reallocating resources to new opportunities.
This is the core of the innovator's dilemma. The big companies Mr. Christensen studied failed, not necessarily because they didn't see the coming innovations, but because they failed to adequately invest in those innovations. To avoid this problem, the people who control large pools of capital need to act more like venture capitalists, and less like corporate finance departments. They need to make lots of bets, not just a few big ones, and they need to be willing to cut their losses.

The resource allocation problem is one Google has tried to address with its "20%" policy. All engineers are allowed to spend 20% of their time working on Google-related projects other than those assigned to them.
In addition to resource allocation, there's the even bigger challenge of creating structures that motivate and inspire workers. There's plenty of evidence that most workers in today's complex organizations are simply not engaged in their work. Many are like Jim Halpert from "The Office," who in season one of the popular TV show declared: "This is just a job.…If this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train."

The new model will have to instill in workers the kind of drive and creativity and innovative spirit more commonly found among entrepreneurs. It will have to push power and decision-making down the organization as much as possible, rather than leave it concentrated at the top. Traditional bureaucratic structures will have to be replaced with something more like ad-hoc teams of peers, who come together to tackle individual projects, and then disband.
The new model will have to go further. New mechanisms will have to be created for harnessing the "wisdom of crowds." Feedback loops will need to be built that allow products and services to constantly evolve in response to new information. Change, innovation, adaptability, all have to become orders of the day.

Can the 20th-century corporation evolve into this new, 21st-century organization? It won't be easy. The "innovator's dilemma" applies to management, as well as technology. But the time has come to find out. The old methods won't last much longer.
Hear, hear!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Designing the Bossless Organization: From Bosses to Mentor Investors

I was able to make this presentation at the Self-Management Institute Symposium last week in California.  It was well received and generated a lot of dialogue.  So this week I registered at the Management Innovation Exchange (MiX) community and submitted a condensed version as a 'hack'.  Let me know what you think, over there or over here (although voting/rating over there is appreciated).  Thanks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hamel speech and community on reinventing management

Check out the new Management Innovation eXchange (MIX) online community created by Gary Hamel and others:
The MIX is an open innovation project aimed at reinventing management for the 21st century. Here on the MIX impassioned innovators from around the world are working together to tackle today’s — and tomorrow’s — toughest management challenges.
Great stuff.  I'm looking forward to actively monitoring and participating.

Also check out this transcript of an excellent Gary Hamel speech at the recent HCL Global Meet 2010: Upside Down and Inside Out: Reinventing Management for a Networked World by Gary Hamel

He makes a comprehensive and compelling case for reinventing the "technology" of management.  I personally found it incredibly inspiring.  It's gonna be an amazing decade of transformation for organizations of all types.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Managers a Barrier to 'Good Jobs'

"UK employers may have the will to provide good jobs, but they don’t know the way — and claim bad management’s a major obstacle in improving work."

No excerpts for this one - read the whole thing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence

I recently came across this excellent academic paper from Dr. Thomas Malone (of "The Future of Work" fame) and others from the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (a fancy term for radical decentralization, crowd-sourcing, wisdom of crowds, peer production, and wikinomics - defined very broadly as groups of individuals doing things collectively that seem intelligent). They examined 249 examples of collective intelligence such as Google's search engine, Wikipedia, Linux, and others to come up with a classification framework for different approaches to collective intelligence.

Here is the high-level framework they came up with:
  • Who is performing the task? Hierarchy or the Crowd?
  • Why are they doing it? Money, Love, or Glory?
  • What is being accomplished? Create or Decide?
  • How is it being done? Collection, Collaboration, Group decision (voting, consensus, averaging, or prediction markets), or Individual decision (markets or social networks)?
Taking these "genes", you can assemble the "genome" for any specific instance, and they include examples for Linux, Wikipedia, Innocentive, and Threadless. Table 5 on page 14 has an excellent chart of when each gene is useful.

Of course, in most every organization today, everything is channeled through the hierarchy gene, even though others could be more appropriate and effective for different tasks, especially innovation. It's a superb framework for measuring up against your organization to see which pieces are missing. It also outlines many of the "genes" we want to include in Organization 2.0. Great stuff. Highly recommended.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

VOA picks up the story on NASA 2.0

Pictured and quoted, and Arabic version. Op-ed is generating a lot of interest.

Update: The video. We're at the 2:14 point.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Transform NASA into the "Google of Government"

Welcome everyone checking out the blog after reading this morning's op-ed in the Houston Chronicle. Since Chronicle links aren't permanent, I'll repost it in its entirety below. Comments are welcome below, or, if you'd like to support this initiative, please email me at tgattis (at)

Update: a pdf of the newspaper page with the artwork.


Give NASA the chance to be next Google

Space agency's as good a place as any to bring bureaucracy into the 21st century

Houston Chronicle July 4, 2009, 7:40PM

As it celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, NASA may be facing its greatest challenge in history. Envisaged is a return to the moon, the establishment of a base there and a push on to Mars, all within far more severe budget and safety constraints than the Apollo program. Failure could mean the end of the organization. As former astronaut Bob Crippen pointed out recently (“The next step in space exploration,” Outlook, June 28, Page B8), the growing time gap between retirement of the space shuttle and new manned launch vehicles threatens the economic and technical base of the U.S. aerospace industry. Meanwhile, China’s space program, flush with funds, continues to rise as a competitor. Imagine what it will achieve with the same focus and funding that was lavished on the 2008 Olympics.

A radical breakthrough is needed. There are well-documented problems with the existing bureaucracy, and heavy reliance on private contractor outsourcing has not been a panacea. To succeed, NASA will need an organization that can enable something like a “Moore’s Law of Space Travel” — yielding continuous reductions in the costs and risks of space travel similar to the rapid improvements we’ve seen in computer technology.

At the same time, the Obama administration wants to pioneer “Government 2.0” based on modern “Web 2.0” collaboration technologies to improve both efficiency and effectiveness. It wants government to be more agile, innovative and entrepreneurial, and has hired federal information and technology officers to make this happen. What the administration needs is an agency to create a prototype of these new approaches — a “Google of government” able to transplant the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem inside its organization to yield a continuous stream of innovations. Who better than NASA to pioneer this approach?

NASA is in an absolutely unique position to prototype a 21st-century organization. Given current political and budget constraints, many may consider the mission near impossible, but NASA has a mandate for change. It is expected to be creative, innovative and future-oriented. The public expects most of government and the private sector to be safe and conservative, but people understand that NASA must take risks to achieve great things with limited resources.

The rise of the open-source software movement is another example of the new, innovative organization. These very loose, voluntary associations have created massively complex applications like the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server — both now dominant applications on the Internet. The open-source movement has a principle known as Linus’ Law: “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” With the extreme consequences of potential “bugs” in the Moon-Mars mission model, the open-source approach may have useful applications at NASA. It could also be an effective way to work with international, academic and private-sector partners, as well as to build public engagement.

To kick off NASA’s transformation, we are calling for the creation of a permanent blue-ribbon advisory commission drawing on leading private and academic experts, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Coordination Science, the Management Innovation Lab (MLab), McKinsey & Co., and even Google itself. By integrating these cutting-edge organizational tools and concepts into a single prototype organization, NASA can create a successful model that can be emulated elsewhere in government and industry. This next-generation organization may be more valuable to society than all the accumulated spin-off technologies from a Moon-Mars mission, perhaps even besting the greatest government spin-off to date: the Internet.

Gattis, a Houstonian, blogs on Organization 2.0 as a social systems architect with OpenTeams Software. Bronk is the fellow for technology, society and public policy at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How Microsoft falls

I know this is not the usual content of this blog, but an insight hit me today and I wanted to pass it along. It came from reading this Business Week story about the high prices Microsoft wants for Windows 7.

Microsoft's revenues have two main drivers: the Windows operating system and the Office suite. Now what happens to those revenues when Apple and Google release cradles for their phones (and the iPod Touch) that will drive a full-size monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, and printer - with built-in Firefox, Chrome, or Safari browsers to access cloud applications? (like Google Apps) If I have modest computing needs - web, email, pictures, video, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. - why do I need a full-size PC or laptop with Windows and Office if my phone can drive everything I need to do and fit in my pocket to boot? As an added bonus, I can also choose to drop my home broadband service and go all 3G. All of a sudden Windows PCs and laptops are a niche market for high-end gamers and graphics.

It will take a little while to get there - faster phone processors, more memory and storage, better browsers that are stronger application platforms, iTunes conversion to a cloud app - but the trend seems inevitable, and the transition could happen very quickly once it starts. Microsoft has been able to drop Windows prices to hold on to netbooks (vs. Linux), but a price drop won't be able to stop this wave.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Manage by Commitments, Not Hierarchies

Some excerpts from a great post at bnet (highlights mine):
If you look at how people think about getting things done in large complex organizations, they basically sort stuff into three broad categories. The first is about power: the organization is a hierarchy where information flows up and orders flow down, and you do what you’re told or you’re fired or demoted. … This tends to create silos: the hierarchy is very up and down and doesn’t work well for work that requires cooperation across different units or functions. It’s pretty slow as well; it takes a long time for information to get up the structure and for orders to find their way down.

Another approach that really started to gain traction in the 1950s in Japan, and became more well-known in the 1980s, is management by process... the organization as a bundle of processes. Six Sigma…TQM [Total Quality Management]…all of these are variations on the same theme. This is hugely helpful—it allows you to squeeze out excess resources and continuously improve on what you do. Bit here we also have limitations, probably the biggest one being that standardization gets in the way of innovation... the higher an organization’s commitment to standardized processes, the lower the level of innovation.

Which brings us to our third approach: managing by commitment. Here, we look at an organization as a network of overlapping, continually evolving promises that people make to each other to get things done. The advantage and the power of this approach is that it lends itself quite well to situations that cannot be standardized: emergent strategies, innovation, one-offs or one-of-a-kind crises. It also works well when you coordinate among people who don’t report to you: suppliers, distributors, etc. And that kind of work is quite important. There was a study done a few years ago that said 40 percent of all employees in the United States added most of their value to their organizations through these non-routine activities. And about 70 percent of the growth of employees in the U.S. was among people who did this non-routine, non-hierarchical work, so it’s a big idea in the context of the economy as a whole.

...commitments within their teams. The most effective have five characteristics. First, they are public. They’re made publicly and their progress is tracked publicly. Next, they’re active. Parties understand what they are agreeing to and what each party is requesting; people don’t just nod, they really have to take responsibility for the commitment. Third, these are voluntary. The other party has the option to say something other than “yes”; they can refuse or make counteroffers. Fourth, commitments are explicit: it has to be clear who is committing. These aren’t committees making promises, they are individuals. And it works best when it is perfectly clear to whom the commitment is made. And fifth and finally, they’re motivating: the rationale is made clear…why it matters to the individuals and the organization is made clear.

More on this approach in a followup post here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WorldBlu announces Most Democratic Workplaces 2009

Their list is not about "democratic" companies in the "everybody votes" sense, but those that truly empower employees at all levels.

"The purpose of the WorldBlu List is to acknowledge the most successful organizations in the world that are choosing to operate, not using the traditional, command and control model of business, but a democratic model based freedom and possibility.

In these challenging economic times, nothing could be more relevant than honoring organizations built on transparency, accountability, integrity, and fairness that give us all a reason to believe that business can truly uphold and model humanity's highest values."

The list proves that these principles are not just theoretical, but work in real organizations in the real world. Check it out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

From command-and-control to collaboration-and-teamwork

Cisco CEO John Chambers explains how moving beyond command-and-control leadership has enabled the company to innovate more quickly, using collaboration and teamwork.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Social media's impact on companies

Social Media Science has a great article on both the internal and external impact of social media on organizations. The internal section matches up exactly with Organization 2.0:
Every day evidence mounts to support the need for companies to transform the way they operate internally. For the most part this is no longer even a matter for debate. Too much social evidence has already accumulated on this subject.
...put into place the social media channels and systems that will allow the corporate community itself to communicate, reward, suggest, ask questions, offer solutions, raise issues, list complaints, and other engagements designed to produce a company united in vision and purpose.
The section on the external impact (in terms of marketing and branding) is right on too. In fact, we're trying to expand OpenTeams' efforts in this regard. We now have groups on
Follow the links to sign up and join the Organization 2.0 conversation.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

More on Management's Grand Challenges

Dr. Gary Hamel has an article in the new February issue of Harvard Business Review titled "Moon Shots for Management". It is a fantastic article, unfortunately limited to subscribers. I have posted on this topic before, but this article goes into much more detail and articulates its points better. It's in absolute alignment with everything we hope to facilitate with OpenTeams and Organization 2.0. The summary:

Idea in Brief

• “Modern” management, much of which dates back to the late nineteenth century, has reached the limits of improvement.

• To lay out a road map for reinvention, a group of scholars and CEOs has created 25 ambitious challenges.

• Unless management innovators tackle those issues, companies will be unable to cope with tomorrow’s volatile world.

Management's Grand Challenges

1: Ensure that the work of management serves a higher purpose. Management, both in theory and practice, must orient itself to the achievement of noble, socially significant goals.

2: Fully embed the ideas of community and citizenship in management systems. There’s a need for processes and practices that reflect the interdependence of all stakeholder groups.

3: Reconstruct management’s philosophical foundations. To build organizations that are more than merely efficient, we will need to draw lessons from such fields as biology, political science, and theology.

4: Eliminate the pathologies of formal hierarchy. There are advantages to natural hierarchies, where power flows up from the bottom and leaders emerge instead of being appointed.

5: Reduce fear and increase trust. Mistrust and fear are toxic to innovation and engagement and must be wrung out of tomorrow’s management systems.

6: Reinvent the means of control. To transcend the discipline-versus-freedom trade-off, control systems will have to encourage control from within rather than constraints from without.

7: Redefine the work of leadership. The notion of the leader as a heroic decision maker is untenable. Leaders must be recast as social-systems architects who enable innovation and collaboration.

8: Expand and exploit diversity. We must create a management system that values diversity, disagreement, and divergence as much as conformance, consensus, and cohesion.

9: Reinvent strategy making as an emergent process. In a turbulent world, strategy making must reflect the biological principles of variety, selection, and retention.

10: De-structure and disaggregate the organization. To become more adaptable and innovative, large entities must be disaggregated into smaller, more malleable units.

11: Dramatically reduce the pull of the past. Existing management systems often mindlessly reinforce the status quo. In the future, they must facilitate innovation and change.

12: Share the work of setting direction. To engender commitment, the responsibility for goal setting must be distributed through a process in which share of voice is a function of insight, not power.

13: Develop holistic performance measures. Existing performance metrics must be recast, since they give inadequate attention to the critical human capabilities that drive success in the creative economy.

14: Stretch executive time frames and perspectives. We need to discover alternatives to compensation and reward systems that encourage managers to sacrifice long-term goals for short-term gains.

15: Create a democracy of information. Companies need information systems that equip every employee to act in the interests of the entire enterprise.

16: Empower the renegades and disarm the reactionaries. Management systems must give more power to employees whose emotional equity is invested in the future rather than the past.

17: Expand the scope of employee autonomy. Management systems must be redesigned to facilitate grassroots initiatives and local experimentation.

18: Create internal markets for ideas, talent, and resources. Markets are better than hierarchies at allocating resources, and companies’ resource allocation processes need to reflect this fact.

19: Depoliticize decision making. Decision processes must be free of positional biases and should exploit the collective wisdom of the entire organization and beyond.

20: Better optimize trade-offs. Management systems tend to force either-or choices. What’s needed are hybrid systems that subtly optimize key trade-offs.

21: Further unleash human imagination. Much is known about what engenders human creativity. This knowledge must be better applied in the design of management systems.

22: Enable communities of passion. To maximize employee engagement, management systems must facilitate the formation of self-defining communities of passion.

23: Retool management for an open world. Value-creating networks often transcend the firm’s boundaries and can render traditional power-based management tools ineffective. New management tools are needed for building and shaping complex ecosystems.

24: Humanize the language and practice of business. Tomorrow’s management systems must give as much credence to such timeless human ideals as beauty, justice, and community as they do to the traditional goals of efficiency, advantage, and profit.

25: Retrain managerial minds. Managers’ deductive and analytical skills must be complemented by conceptual and systems-thinking skills.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

BNET on business democracies

Geoffrey James at BNET has an interesting post on whether businesses should be democracies. An excerpt:

...if free market democracy is such a good idea, why are most businesses run like military dictatorships?

Think about it! Most companies:

  • Are controlled by a junta of corporate “officers.”
  • Strive for tight top-down financial controls.
  • Spy upon employee emails and activities.
  • Obsess endlessly about the chain of command.
  • Dictate rules and regulations from the top.

By contrast, I’ve seen very few companies that encourage internal competition beyond initial R&D efforts, and I’ve NEVER seen a company where the employees get to vote for the new President. Heck, even the stockholders don’t get to do that.

It seems to me that if CEOs really believed the Republican “talk”, they’d “walk the talk” and voluntarily set up their companies with internal free market economies and hold regular elections to determine who should manage each function.

However, since no CEO is willing to put his money where his mouth is, it’s logical to assume that most CEOs secretly believe, consciously or unconsciously, that organizations are better off when they’re run like military dictatorships.

With all due respect, I disagree. In my view, most corporations are successful in spite of top-down management, rather than because of it. In fact, I think that most businesses would benefit if the employees were running more of the show.

While I agree with most of his points, I think the emphasis of the solution needs to be free markets more than democracy. Silicon Valley is successful because it allows hundreds of startups to bloom and the market sorts out the winners from the losers - not because they hold some sort of big vote every year to pick the "best" startups. Companies need to shift their thinking from "managers" controlling departments to "internal venture capitalists" putting resources behind the best ideas, and they should be judged on the results of those investments. Talent needs the freedom to move to the most promising and best funded projects. (more on Organization 2.0 here)

To quote Hamel:
“Market-based economies outperform those that are centrally planned. …markets are better than hierarchies at getting the right resources behind the right opportunities at the right time. The average company, though, operates more like a socialist state than an unfettered market. A hierarchy may be an effective mechanism for applying resources, but it is an imperfect device for allocating resources.”

–“The Quest for Resilience” by Gary Hamel and Liisa Välikangas, Harvard Business Review, Sept. 2003
We designed OpenTeams to act as that self-organizing ideas+talent+$ marketplace for projects.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thoughts and takeaways from the WorldBlu conference

So I finally have some time to blog about the WorldBlu conference on democratic organizations last month in New York. Other blog posts do a great job of covering the conference details - here, here (where I was quoted), and here (including summaries of each speaker) - so I'm just going to post my own key takeaways and thoughts rather than all my notes. Here are some items I highlighted in my notes:
  • When people don't have a self-governance model, they want a strong directive leader (with the negatives that entails).
  • Democracy needs structure, or power becomes personal.
  • The vast majority of people don't like their jobs (yet rather than recognize this as a symptom of a serious flaw in how we run our organizations, it's simply accepted as "the way things are").
  • More than 80% of managers are poor leaders.
  • 50+% of peoples' time is spent fighting institutional bureaucracies.
  • "First, we shape our structures... and then our structures shape us." -Winston Churchill
  • Results-only work environments (ROWE) are a great step in the right direction.
  • "We long for community, but settle for institutions."
  • Winning companies stand for powerful ideas.
  • Leadership = creating an architecture of participation (not "genius on the mountain")
The reality is that most of the featured organizations were more benevolent autocracies than democracies. One exception is the co-op model, which got a presentation from Equal Exchange and was also recently featured in a Houston Chronicle op-ed. Co-ops are 100% owned by their workers (and, in some cases, their customers). While I see some benefits from the model, I don't think it's "the answer". For one thing, I think most of the world's enterprises need outside equity investment to be financially viable. There also has to be some mechanism for efficiently deploying capital where it's needed, as well as for investors to diversify their investments beyond their own firms to reduce risk.

But I have another issue with the co-op model. They talk about the need for empowerment, control, and trust, but then talk about how their model is like a city government. I don't think people feel all that much control, empowerment, and trust from their city government, so duplicating that model doesn't seem all that helpful. Democracy is better than autocracy, but liberty is even better than democracy (who would you prefer controlling you: dictator, elected leader, or nobody?). Liberty means free markets. How can we get that model inside organizations? (more here: Organization 2.0 briefing)

This leads to my bigger picture issue. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey talks about the damaged brand of capitalism worldwide and the deep unpopularity of big business (not to mention the other big command-and-control organizations: government bureaucracies). A few hundred years ago, scholars and nobles lamented all the bad kings (vs. the few good ones) and wrote about improving monarchies. "How can we get more good, enlightened kings?" But our Founding Fathers saw the futility of articulating principles for a better monarchy. They moved on to a whole new concept, representative democracy, and the rest, as they say, is history. As I attend conferences like WorldBlu and, later this week, Catalyzing Conscious Capitalism, I find myself asking:
Are we just trying to foster more "benevolent monarchies", or are we really moving on to create our equivalent of "democracy": a completely new form of organization that breaks from the old, dysfunctional, command-and-control, hierarchical model?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another award for OpenTeams

Best of the Web online project management applications for CEOs and entrepreneurs, by CEOworld magazine.

I've been a little swamped since returning from NYC, but I hope to write a longer post on the WorldBlu conference soon, based on my notes. There was no wireless internet at the conference, so liveblogging didn't work out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Headed to WorldBlu Live conference in NYC

Looks like a great event on democratic organizations. If you'll be there, find me and let's chat about next generation organizations (or, my new label, Organization 2.0 - short overview pdf with 4 content charts here). Here's quick head shot so you know who to look for.

I might do a little live blogging from the conference, or at least report back afterwards.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Benefits of social media in the workplace

I rediscovered this old Hinchcliffe blog post recently, which articulates a still-valid set of benefits for enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 tools like OpenTeams:
  • More ad hoc collaboration between employees who can find each other’s work and team together.
  • More globally persistent, discoverable business information is made available over time.
  • Social media tends to capture more institutional knowledge that’s reusable.
  • A deep hyperlink infrastructure begins to form, built by continuously by workers using social media. tools to forge links, making business information more discoverable.
  • Tagging and other emergent organization methods allow business information to be organized and cross-referenced from every point of view.
  • More efficient access to information as more business information becomes available internally and externally via syndication.
  • Potentially higher levels of innovation and productivity as more previously unavailable enterprise thinking is available to be accessed, repurposed, and built on top of.
  • Increased efficiency in conversations: social media scales up to mostly resource and time friendly conversations among thousands of asynchronous participants, yet excludes those uninterested in them, unlike e-mail distribution lists and conference calls.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Management's Grand Challenges

Coming out of Dr. Hamel's "Inventing the Future of Management" summit is this excellent document (introduced by this blog post) summing up the 25 challenges of reinventing management (i.e. Management 2.0). Here are the 25, although it's well worth diving into the details behind them in the document. Those details help flesh out the real issue behind each of these pretty abstract items.

1. Reconstruct the philosophical foundations of management
2. Fully operationalize the ideas of community and citizenship
3. Seek orientation in a higher and broader purpose
4. Distribute (share) the work of creating direction and strategy
5. Develop holistic performance measures
6. Stretch executive timeframes and perspectives
7. Increase trust, reduce fear
8. Create a democracy of information
9. Expand and exploit intellectual variety
10. Substantially reduce the gravitational pull of the past
11. Enlarge and empower the pro-change constituency
12. Expand the freedom for autonomous action
13. Create more space for emergent strategies
14. Create an internal market for ideas, talent and resources
15. De-structure and dis-aggregate the formal organization
16. Dramatically diminish the influence of (formal) hierarchy
17. Reinvent the work of executive leadership
18. De-politicize decision-making
19. Reinvent the means of “control”
20. Transcend the efficiency vs. innovation trade-off
21. (Further) Unleash human imagination
22. Enable communities of passion
23. Create (more) open organizations
24. Rethink management thinking
25. Humanize (the language of) business

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hamel's Management Innovation Summit

Dr. Hamel recently got 35 of the world's biggest thinkers together in a room for two days to discuss the future of management (his four core questions discussed here). If you want to know what they discussed, check out this article, this blog post, these in-depth series of blog posts (with graphics and pics), as well as a video interview with Dr. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. Alas, no post yet from Hamel himself.

Update: Here it is.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Four questions (and answers) on reinventing management

Dr. Gary Hamel, famous author of "Competing for the Future" and "The Future of Management" - and recently ranked by the Wall Street Journal as their #1 business guru - has posted four questions on reinventing management on his blog. These questions will be posed to 35 top thinkers at a "Reinventing the Future of Management" conference next week in California. I dug through my notes on our Open Model Entrepreneurial Organization concept, and then posted a comment with my best shot at answers to the four questions. I will also repost those answers here:

1. What are the deep-seated impediments, or “design flaws,” that limit the capacity of organizations to adapt (to change without trauma); to innovate (to mobilize the imagination of everyone, every day); and to engage (to create environments that inspire extraordinary contributions)?

There are three core “design flaws,” each of which matches generally with one of the three challenges, although they also overlap and interrelate:

1) Weak adaptation: Flat salaries based on time passing (rather than achievements or being billable for clear tasks on a project), combined with people fiercely defending the “turf” of their territorial job descriptions, create an inertial bias towards stasis (“just mark time as comfortably as you can to make money, and be passive aggressive to make sure nobody rocks the boat in your job domain”). Only top management has an incentive to drive through disruptive change, but they’re pushing against an incredibly resistant organization with tremendous inertia.

2) Weak innovation: A hierarchical chain of bosses, any of which can say “No” to kill any new ideas, or to anything that threatens their power, interests, or the status quo.

3) Weak engagement: The straight-jacket of constraining job descriptions. Few employees are likely to be in the “Flow” state of optimal productivity (not bored or burned-out/overwhelmed) unless they can control their portfolio of roles to stay in that “zone.”

2. Given these systemic impediments, and the new demands that will confront organizations in the years ahead, what should be the agenda for 21st century management innovators? That is, what are the “moonshot challenges” that must be addressed if we are to create organizations that are truly fit for the future?

Organizations need to be more like the free market Silicon Valley ecosystem internally:

1) Compensation driven by value-added accomplishments (billable time for clear tasks on projects) rather than general time passing, creating an instant constituency for change, improvement, and adaptation.

2) Nobody’s “turf” is sacred – anybody can be challenged at any time.

3) A new idea can seek support/resources from multiple sources throughout the organization – no single gatekeeper, or, worse, a chain of hierarchical gatekeepers. Imagine if Silicon Valley had only one VC firm…

4) Replace single jobs with portfolios of ever-shifting roles so people can keep themselves in the highly engaged “Flow” state. Employees can trade roles with each other – for instance, passing down a role that has become stale and boring for one employee to another who sees it as a promotion to a new and challenging opportunity. This portfolio approach will also help reduce unproductive territorial defensiveness of job “turf,” since it’s only one part of their broader portfolio of roles.

The moonshot challenge is this: How can organizations become more like the Silicon Valley ecosystem internally, while avoiding anarchy, presenting a single face to the world, and acting in a cohesive strategic direction?

3. Can we imagine, even in outline form, some potential solutions to these challenges, and if so, what sorts of experiments might be useful in helping us to test these ideas in real world settings?

At OpenTeams, we call it the Open Model Entrepreneurial Organization (OMEO). The “entrepreneurial” part is obvious from the description above. What the “open model” is referring to is breaking up our single monolithic hierarchical organization maps into two parts: 1) an “open model” of all the assets, systems, processes, and day-to-day operational roles in the company, and 2) a collection self-organizing employees (with their own portfolios of project-based roles) as well as funding sponsors (“internal venture capitalists”) to support projects to change the open model (adapt, innovate, improve). Of course, individuals could straddle both parts of the organization with a combination of both operational and project roles – or even an internal venture capitalist role if they are given discretionary time to invest (as Google famously does with their engineers’ “20% time”).

4. More generally, what could be done to help accelerate the evolution of management in the years to come, that is, what is it that limits the pace of management innovation and how might these limits be overcome?

If you look at the case study of the transition from Manufacturing 1.0 (Ford) to 2.0 (Toyota), it took Edwards Deming influencing a prototype flagship company that became the paragon role model for industrial companies around the world. We need a similar prototype flagship for Management 2.0. It must be widely acknowledged as far more adaptive, innovative, and engaging than normal companies, and it must do it with a *system*, not just culture or leadership personalities. Once Management 2.0 has proven itself in a high-profile company, other companies will flock to emulate it, just as they did for Toyota.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Organizational Democracy and WorldBlu

I got to meet with Traci Fenton of WorldBlu in Austin on Monday. WorldBlu supports organizational democracy with activities like the annual WorldBlu List of the Most Democratic Workplaces and the WorldBlu Live conference in NYC this October, and Traci is as passionate about changing organizations as I am (she even has her own blog here). Her emphasis is on "democratic," while mine is on "entrepreneurial" - but our core principals are essentially the same. I highly encourage you to learn more and consider attending the conference this Fall. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Demo audio fixed

We recently discovered that the audio in our demo screencast could sound garbled when played in the newest version of Adobe's Flash player. We have implemented the fix, so if you've had trouble with our demo before, please try it again. It really is the best way to come up to speed quickly on the power of OpenTeams.

Monday, March 3, 2008

"Future of Management" in a nutshell

Came across this great set of bullet-points summarizing Dr. Gary Hamel's "Future of Management" organizations - what he calls "Management 2.0" and what we call "The Entrepreneurial Organization":

* Everyone has a voice.
* The tools of creativity are widely distributed.
* Its easy and cheap to experiment.
* Capability counts for more than credentials and titles.
* Commitment is voluntary.
* Power is granted from below.
* Authority is fluid and contingent on value-added.
* The only hierarchies are “natural” hierarchies.
* Communities are self-defining. Individuals are richly empowered with information.
* Just about everything is decentralized.
* Ideas compete on an equal footing.
* It’s easy for buyers and sellers to find each other.
* Resources are free to follow opportunities.
* Decisions are peer-based.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Interview on TrenchMice

Here. It's interesting he worries our price point might be a bit premium vs. some of the free tools out there. We've been getting a lot opposite feedback that our price point may be too low for many enterprises looking for a high level of support. Of course we like to think we've found the right middle-ground, with good value combined with excellent support.

I appreciate his optimistic view of our long-term prospects, but let's hope things progress faster than he predicts. This is the lightning-fast world of Web 2.0, right?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A new review

One of the more comprehensive reviews of OpenTeams, which concludes:
OpenTeams is an impressive service... OpenTeams’ high point is adding structure to a wiki. If you need to organize pages into folders, create outlines, track files, and work with a group of users, OpenTeams is definitely worth checking out.
It's also a pretty good overview of how to actually use OpenTeams. Check it out.

The workforce disengagement problem

Came across this post on the problem of widespread disengagement in the workforce, based on a Towers Perrin Global Workforce Study. The excerpt:
Just 21% of the employees surveyed around the world are engaged in their work, meaning they're willing to go the extra mile to help their companies succeed. Fully 38% are partly to fully disengaged. The result is a gap - which Towers Perrin has dubbed the "engagement gap" - between the discretionary effort companies need and people actually want to invest and companies' effectiveness in channeling this effort to enhance performance.

The study found that companies with the highest levels of employee engagement achieve better financial results and are more successful in retaining their most valued employees than companies with lower levels of engagement.

"It's impossible to overstate the importance of an engaged workforce on a company's bottom line," said Julie Gebauer, managing director and leader of Towers Perrin's Workforce Effectiveness consulting practice. "The Global Workforce Study establishes a definitive link between levels of engagement and financial performance and, for the first time, begins to quantify that link. It demonstrates that, at a time when companies are looking for every source of competitive advantage, the workforce itself represents the largest reservoir of untapped potential."

The most striking data about the linkage between employee engagement and financial performance come from a study of 40 global companies which involved a regression analysis of company financial results against engagement data. It found that firms with the highest percentage of engaged employees collectively increased operating income 19% and earnings per share 28% year to year. Those companies with the lowest percentage of engaged employees showed year-to-year declines of 33% in operating income and 11% in earnings per share.
OpenTeams increases employee engagement by helping them self-organize into entrepreneurial teams around innovative ideas. Entrepreneurs are the personification of "engagement," and having more of that spirit within an organization can do wonders for motivating employees to tap their full potential.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Radio Interview and Elevator Pitch

I recently "elevator pitched" OpenTeams at the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship IT/Web 2.0 Forum. If you'd like to hear the two minute pitch, they recorded it here. I'll admit I was a little rough at first as I tried to avoid using my notes much, but I soon realized I was running out of time fast (they had a 90 second countdown timer), and smoothly finished out by reading straight from my notes. Not great speech etiquette, but I had to hit a lot of their checklist items in a very short time.

The pitch caught Russ Capper's attention from The BusinessMakers Radio Show, and he very generously asked me to participate in a longer interview at their studios about OpenTeams and my background. I'm used to communications where I have ample editing time (email, blog, documents, Powerpoint, even speech writing), so real-time, live-recorded Q&A was a bit nerve-wracking. But it went surprisingly well, and they did a fantastic editing job, cleaning it up into a very tight 18-minute segment you can hear here, or even download it as a podcast.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Opportunistic Innovation as Strategy

Caught this book review of "Strategic Intuition" in the Wall Street Journal, which is a great fit with what OpenTeams can do for your company:

Set big goals. Do whatever it takes to reach them. These muscular sentences form the core of commencement addresses, business-advice books, political movements and even the United Nations approach to global poverty. In "Strategic Intuition," a concise and entertaining treatise on human achievement, William Duggan says that such pronouncements are not only banal but wrong.

Mr. Duggan, who teaches strategy at Columbia Business School, argues that the commonplace formula has it backward. Instead of setting goals first, he says, it is better to watch for opportunities with large payoffs at low costs and only then set your goals. That is what innovators throughout history have done, as Mr. Duggan shows in a deliriously fast-paced tour of history.


One of the insights of "Strategic Intuition" is that business makes progress by following the opportunistic innovation model, while governments and international-aid agencies aim repetitively at rigid social goals.


If there are still businessmen who feel compelled to follow a fixed-goal plan -- missing out on the profits of opportunistic flexibility -- then at least there is the free market to punish them. Market feedback is surely one big reason that we have so many innovative entrepreneurs.

Of course, OpenTeams is a great environment for sparking and developing opportunistic innovation options by tapping the wisdom and insights of employees at all levels.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The case for collaboration software over email

The St. Edmonds Lab at NetX blog has a nice plug for OpenTeams, but what's great about the post is their creative articulation of the need for collaborative software instead of email (specifically in the context of a creative ad agency). This graphic hilariously makes the point:

Here's a scary statistic:
Research shows that staff source between 50%-75% of information relevant to their work from other people. It also shows that more than 80% of an organisation’s digitised information resides on individual hard drives and inside personal files. This means that individuals - rather than the organisation - control the bulk of essential knowledge within an agency.
And a very pointed conclusion:
The need for better knowledge management in creative processes is evident. Campaigns are becoming more and more sophisticated to succeed in a fragmented media environment. If agencies don’t learn from mistakes and successes, they can never be better than their current workforce allows them to be. And since any key person leaves an organization at some point, they take with them a wide spectrum of extremely valuable knowledge, including industry and target group insights, confidential data and relationships. If the agency’s creative knowledge then only consists of static files on servers, a bunch of emails and the rented brains of the current employees, it isn’t much more than a name with a reputation, a building and a fancy coffee machine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

McKinsey on innovative management

The McKinsey Quarterly just released an interview with Gary Hamel, author of The Future of Management (see previous post), and Lowell Bryan, author of Mobilizing Minds: Creating Wealth From Talent in the 21st Century Organization, on the future of management. Here's part of the abstract summary:
The authors discuss how traditional management models do not enable businesses to adequately respond to today’s competitive forces. In a new environment that places a premium on collaboration and talent, they view old organizational structures as impediments to innovation and creative strategy
It is well worth registering to read the whole thing, but here are a few excerpts which caught my eye and seem particularly relevant to OpenTeams and The Entrepreneurial Organization:

The Internet is making it possible to amplify and aggregate human capabilities in ways never before possible. But most CEOs don’t yet understand how dramatically these developments will change the way companies organize, lead, allocate resources, plan, hire, and motivate—in other words, how new technology will change the work of managing. Throughout history, technological innovation has always preceded organizational and management innovation.


I think the technological revolution that occurred in the past 15 years was basically equivalent to the industrial revolution—a fundamental discontinuity. And just as technologies have S curves, the technology of management also has an S curve.


The availability of powerful new tools for coordinating human effort will profoundly change the work of management over the next few years.


Highly talented people don’t need, and are unlikely to put up with, an overtly hierarchical management model. Increasingly, the work of management won’t be done by managers. It will be pushed out to the periphery. It will be embedded in systems. I think we’re on the verge of what I would call a postmanagerial society. The idea that you mobilize human labor through a hierarchy of overseers and bureaucrats and administrators is going to look extraordinarily antiquated a decade or two from now.


The outlines of the 21st-century management model are already clear. Decision-making will be more peer based; the tools of creativity will be widely distributed in organizations. Ideas will compete on an equal footing. Strategies will be built from the bottom up. Power will be a function of competence rather than of position.


I don’t think you shuffle your way from one S curve to the other. You have to jump. Frederick Taylor often talked about the need for a mental revolution when he was trying to move organizations from the craft-based model to the factory model. Today we need a new mental revolution.


Assuming you’re well managed, the direction that most companies need to go in is improving how they enable their people to collaborate with one another at much lower cost by dramatically reducing unproductive search and coordination costs. And that means deploying such devices as talent marketplaces, knowledge marketplaces, and formal networks to make intangible assets flow throughout the company, as opposed to going up and down vertical chains of command.


Ideas are being monetized in ways never before possible, and the world is a richer place. I’m not just talking about creating financial wealth; I’m talking about a much more stimulating work environment, with more interesting jobs for employees to create more valuable products and services for the world’s consumers. It is just an incredibly exciting time to be alive.

Hear, hear!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Future of Management

Gary Hamel, of "Competing for the Future" and "Leading the Revolution" fame, has a new book coming out in October titled "The Future of Management". I found out about it from a Wall Street Journal article where he holds up Google as one of the top examples:

In "The Future of Management," a book due to be published this autumn, Mr. Hamel argues that Google's innovations go beyond the fine points of search-engine algorithms -- extending into big, enduring aspects of general management. The Mountain View, Calif., company is packed with intriguing, distinctive ways of running itself, he says. These include radical decentralization; small, self-managing teams; a just-try-it approach to rolling out new products before they are fully finished; and a willingness to let engineers spend sizable chunks of time on offbeat projects.

Put it together, Mr. Hamel contends, and Google is committed to building a company that can evolve as fast as the Web. That is crucial in today's turbulent business climate. Old ways stop working. Powerful new rivals pop up in the most unexpected places. Many well-established companies, even renowned ones, thrash helplessly as traditional strategies lose their potency.

Reading book excerpts, as well as watching some of his videos here, here, and here, I was deeply inspired, and am really looking forward to the book. There are many similarities to the concepts we espouse in The Entrepreneurial Organization, as well as with the Enterprise 2.0 movement, which is discovering the management changes as a side effect of the new Web 2.0 technologies inside the enterprise.

Just like the first wave of client-server and ERP computing helped enable the business process re-engineering movement of the '90s, it's looking more and more like new social software tools will spark another revolution in the management of organizations - and OpenTeams wants to lead the way along with Dr. Hamel, Google, and others.

Update: Another great excerpt of the book in Fortune.