When we think about self-organization the obvious context is a team. Everyone in the Agile world have heard about self-organized teams. We expect a boost of engagement and productivity when people aren’t told how to organize themselves.
Interestingly enough, despite all the benefits we see at a team level, almost no organizations try to scale the concept of self-organization up. The reason is the hierarchical power distribution structure that is at the core of almost all organizations. We commonly call it management. Introducing self-organization throughout the organization would require to redesign how it is managed. Is it even possible?
Let me walk you through that story. At Lunar Logic in less than 4 years we evolved from a traditional organizational model with strong management to fully self-organized company. Our CEO has equal access to information and equal decision-making power as an intern who we hired last month. We have no managers and are in need of none.
We are not crazy, mind you. The company didn’t collapse. Conversely, the retention has improved, motivation went through the roof, and financially the company has never been more stable as it is now. While I won’t lie that it’s been easy, the outcomes speak for themselves.