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.