“We believe that self-management is the next strategic frontier and one of the greatest opportunities we have for achieving high performing, sustained competitive advantage.”
Here we are! In a world that appears ripe with opportunity. Businesses have achieved amazing feats in recent decades through exponential advances in technology, by introducing new products and services, pushing cost/efficiency gains and expanding their markets. It would seem that the foundation for sustainable organizational success has been laid.
Yet in this globalized, hyper-connected, super competitive, fast-paced world, we continue to face daunting challenges that require more and more of us with no greater certainty of sustainable success.
Under the surface of this amazing progress is a feeling that in the face of constant change, increasing demands and competing priorities, we won’t be able to maintain the current pace and intensity, not with our current organizational systems.
Technology is fungible, competition is global, patents expire, and talent walks. Indeed, there is growing evidence that the business strategies and approaches, that served us in the past, are reaching their limits.
To succeed over the long term, we need to be more nimble, responsive and agile. Self-management is an idea whose time has come.
The Undeniable Case for Engaging People
Yes, the future is ours to seize but we believe it will only happen if we face up to the fact that far too many people in our organizations are sitting on the sidelines, stuck in bureaucratic hierarchies and outdated Industrial Age work models. Surveys show that only one in five employees are fully engaged at work and of those, most are in senior management roles or working for highly entrepreneurial firms. The result is a huge loss of capacity in our organizations and a high price to pay in the joy and meaning of work.
At a gut level, we all know there’s something missing. People are yearning for more. Is it not time to heed the signs and to shift our much-needed attention to our current management systems? Imagine what could happen if we applied the same passion, focus and commitment that led to our best past achievements to further unleash human potential, supporting and freeing people to be their best, balancing accountability and engagement.
We believe that self-management is the next strategic frontier and one of the greatest opportunities we have for achieving high performing, sustained competitive advantage.
Self-Management: Come Explore with Us
“Self-management likely exists already in pockets across your organization. It’s often where the best results are happening. It’s a great place to start your transformation journey.”
We have depth of experience working in self-managed companies. We have seen the power and outcomes of organizational self-management first hand.
We know that implementing a self-management system fulfills the need for a strong, robust and dynamic organization by providing individual autonomy, engagement and accountability, which in turn drives sustainable and positive business results.
Organizational self-management cannot be successfully imposed from the top down. Nor can it be mandated or prescribed. We’ve learned that self-management takes hold by involving and engaging people, one step at a time, and every step of the way.
For this transition and journey to be successful, it requires that you be in the driver’s seat so that it fits to your culture and goals.
As a leader in a more traditional organization, you may be asking yourself: Will self-management work for us? How much of a stretch is it from what we are doing now? Can we make the transition? What is the risk to our current business? Is it a risk worth taking?
Our immediate response is to say that pockets of self-management most likely exist in your enterprise already. It’s often where the best results are happening. It’s a great place to start.
More Control Not Less
While this transition may appear risky at first, with many fearing chaos and a loss of control, what owners, leaders and colleagues from self-managed organizations have discovered is how much more control and accountability there is when we operate this way. That’s because individuals are naturally wired to do good. With a self-management system, it means more eyes on the problems and more real-time action-oriented solutions.
When people know what to do and are given the freedom to do it, personal accountability is strengthened, not weakened. Clarity drives execution. Innovation emerges from anywhere, at any time. The result is superior performance.
All it takes to start changing a culture are a few guiding principles and a simple set of rules.
Our top down, command-control systems, organized around boss/subordinate relationships, silo structures and departmental boundaries, are not equipped to deal with current competitive realities. We are squandering huge potential, capability and capacity. Maintaining the status quo is a far greater risk.
To thrive and succeed, we need a more engaged and holistic way of thinking and working.
Self-Management Unlocks Infinite Possibilities
From our own experience in self-managed organizations, we know that on the other side of that decision is a world of performance, learning and purpose leading to growth and results that will exceed anything you’ve experienced in the past. We’ve lived it; we’ve done it from the inside – boots on the ground, rolling up our sleeves with others, experiencing the power of what can happen when we let go control, trust people, establish a few simple processes with everyone involved and accountable for creating the future day by day, every day.
Other companies have made the jump: W.L. Gore, Morning Star, Sun Hydraulics, Whole Foods, to name a few. These are high performing enterprises who had the foresight to embark on this journey and who, decades into it, continue to reap the exponential results of a self-managed culture.
Self-Management: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
As you explore the possibilities, perhaps the following questions will spark something for you:
What would it be worth to you as a leader if all the people in your organization were fully engaged, optimizing their skills and potential, totally immersed in their work and just as invested in the business as you are?
How would it feel to go to work every day knowing that you had helped, by activating a culture where everyone felt a part, took their work seriously, was dedicated to learning, enjoyed their teams and passionately believed in the mission, values and purpose of the enterprise?
Can you imagine an environment that thrived on problem solving, innovation, service, continuous improvement, efficiency, quality, flexibility and more – all the things that drive good business?
Can you picture small purposeful teams everywhere meaningfully engaged in the most important projects of the business as part of their day-to-day work, initiating projects and contributing their best ideas?
And then consider current lean initiatives, efficiency and quality projects or client driven work being supercharged because you’re now leveraging the greater potential of people.
Our invitation, as you explore the possibilities of self-management, is to be working with you as partners, co-creating a framework and implementing the building blocks that can best support you on this amazing journey.
With a diversified portfolio of deep experience both working inside successful self-managed companies and transforming traditional ones, and as the author of “Beyond Empowerment: The Age of the Self-Managed Organization”, Doug can persuasively attest to the theories, practices, benefits, scalability and sustainability of organizational self-management in creating long-term strategic business advantage. More
Igniting Human Potential
Having witnessed the dramatic results that occur when we transcend top-down hierarchy, silo thinking and overly structured planning, Suzanne is a fervent proponent of self-management because it embodies the best of what happens informally in our organizations –when people assume their leadership and take full responsibility for their work. More