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A Workplace with No Managers

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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.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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A Workplace with No Managers

  1. 1. EXTREME SELF-ORGANIZATION A WORKPLACE WITH NO MANAGERS PAWEL BRODZINSKI
  2. 2. BRODZINSKI.COM @PAWELBRODZINSKI
  3. 3. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY…
  4. 4. A HEALTHY WORKPLACE WHICH ALLOWS US TO FULFILL OUR POTENTIAL, KEEPS US ENGAGED, AND GIVES US OPTIONS TO PURSUE OUR PERSONAL GOALS EVEN WHEN THEY CHANGE OVER THE COURSE OF OUR LIFETIMES.
  5. 5. WORLDWIDE, ONLY 13% OF EMPLOYEES ARE ENGAGED AT WORK. GALLUP, 2013 Source: Gallup: State of the Global Workplace
  6. 6. AUTONOMY MASTERY PURPOSE
  7. 7. LACK OF AUTONOMY IS THE ISSUE BUT WE CAN’T DO ANARCHY
  8. 8. TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE LEAN & AGILE SOMEWHAT FLAT ORGANIZATION PRETTY TRANSPARENT VERY STRONG, CHARISMATIC CEO
  9. 9. THERE IS NO SINGLE PATH
  10. 10. WE DON’T CHANGE PEOPLE’S BEHAVIORS SIMPLY BY MAKING INFORMATION AVAILABLE. WE NEED UNDERSTANDING OF INFORMATION WE RECEIVE AND CAPABILITIES TO ACT ON IT.
  11. 11. AUTONOMY
  12. 12. DECENTRALIZING CONTROL REQUIRES DECENTRALIZING BOTH THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE DECISIONS AND THE INFORMATION REQUIRED TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS CORRECTLY. DON REINERTSEN Source: Don Reinertsen: Principles of Product Development Flow
  13. 13. AUTHORITY DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN AUTONOMY. THERE ARE ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS THAT MAY PREVENT US FROM EXERCISING AUTHORITY WE FORMALLY HAVE.
  14. 14. TO ENABLE LOWER ORGANIZATIONAL LEVELS TO MAKE DECISIONS, WE NEED TO GIVE THEM AUTHORITY, INFORMATION, AND PRACTICE. WITHOUT PRACTICE AND THE FREEDOM TO FAIL UPON OCCASION, THEY WILL NOT TAKE CONTROL OF THESE DECISIONS. DON REINERTSEN Source: Don Reinertsen: Principles of Product Development Flow
  15. 15. DECISION MAKING: THE ULTIMATE APPLICATION OF AUTHORITY IN MODERN WORKPLACE
  16. 16. THE PREVAILING MANAGEMENT PARADIGM: HIERARCHICAL POWER-DISTRIBUTION STRUCTURE
  17. 17. TO CREATE SPACE FOR AUTONOMY THOSE IN POWER NEED TO TAKE A STEP BACK
  18. 18. THERE’S NO SIMPLE ANSWER TO SUCH A QUESTION
  19. 19. WELL, CAN YOU? HEY BOSS, CAN I…
  20. 20. TAKING A STEP BACK STRATEGY BRINGS YOU ONLY THAT FAR
  21. 21. CONSENSUS-DRIVEN DECISION MAKING
  22. 22. DECISION MAKING PROCESS
  23. 23. DECISION MAKING PROCESS: SCALING UP
  24. 24. TRANSPARENT SALARIES
  25. 25. OPEN SALARIES IS A GREAT EXERCISE IN AUTONOMOUS DECISION MAKING
  26. 26. RESETTING LUNAR LOGIC STRATEGY
  27. 27. EMERGENT PURPOSE
  28. 28. AUTONOMY, TRANSPARENCY AND ALIGNMENT ARE CRUCIAL TRAITS OF AN ORGANIZATION THAT IS NOT DRIVEN IN A TOP-DOWN MANNER BY A PERSON IN POWER
  29. 29. FIRING PEOPLE
  30. 30. THE FINAL TOUCH OF REMOVING FORMAL MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE
  31. 31. DISCARD OFFICIAL POSITIONS
  32. 32. DOWNPLAY ROLE OF CEO
  33. 33. ROLES INSTEAD OF POSITIONS
  34. 34. CONTEXTUAL, EMERGENT LEADERSHIP
  35. 35. THE TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATION DESIGN IS BASED ON A HIERARCHICAL POWER-DISTRIBUTION STRUCTURE. THE NEW PARADIGM IS (BOUNDED) AUTONOMY, WHICH PROMOTES INITIATIVE OVER FORMAL POSITION.
  36. 36. THE CHANGE IS NOT ABOUT AN ORGANIZTION BECOMING INFORMAL INSTEAD OF FORMAL. AUTONOMY-BASED ORGNIZATIONAL DESIGN CAN BE EMERGENT AND VERY INFORMAL AS WELL AS EXTREMELY FORMALIZED, AS IT HAPPENS WITH E.G. HOLACRACY.
  37. 37. organizational culture the behavior of humans who are part of an organization and the meanings that the people react to their actions includes the organization values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs, and habits Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_culture
  38. 38. SUSTAINED TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE LEAN & AGILE TRULY FLAT ORGANIZATION EXTREMELY TRANSPARENT NO MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE EMERGENT LEADERSHIP NEW LOGO
  39. 39. 10% - 20% PEOPLE LEAVE BECAUSE OF THE TRANSFORMATION
  40. 40. A WORKPLACE WHERE WE CAN PURSUE OUR DREAMS NOT BY LEAVING THE COMPANY AT A FIRST SIGN OF MISALIGNMENT BUT BY INFLUENCING AND CHANGING THE ORGANIZATION SO IT SUITS OUR PLANS BETTER.
  41. 41. THANK YOU PAWEL BRODZINSKI

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