I recently went on vacation and still am feeling the much needed rejuvenation that follows. In addition to the general sense of rejuvenation, my vacation gave me two more benefits:
- Time to finish reading a book that I had started before I left on vacation.
- Time to think.
For those who know me well, they may think this is a dangerous combination but I am hopeful that some very positive things will transpire as a result of my vacation.
The book that I just finished reading is called Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. There is a lot that I enjoyed about this book. It is a great read for organizational leaders, organizational development experts, managers, or any employee that has lost their passion for their current position/company.
The concept that Laloux presents is so simple that you will wonder why so few organizations try this approach. In a nutshell, Laloux suggests that self-management is the key to success. Many of you may read the phrase “self-management” and immediately reject this concept. Maybe it is because you have worked with individuals that you don’t feel are capable of self-management. Maybe it is because you are a manager or leader and don’t want to give us the power and authority that you currently have. Whatever the reason, I encourage you to at least take the time to read the book.
As I mentioned at the beginning, vacation offers me a time to think. And when I think, I ask myself a lot of “what if” questions.
- What if we changed our approach?
- What if we outsourced certain responsibilities?
- What if we shifted job responsibilities around?
- What if we hired a different team member?
- What if I lived in a tropical environment? Oh wait, that doesn’t really impact the business. Or maybe it does!
But you get the point, right? Having time to think allows me to come up with creative solutions, figure out what’s next, or solve a particularly challenging problem.
The fact that I chose to read Reinventing Organizations and ask myself a lot of “what if” questions while on vacation proved to be incredibly valuable.
Reinventing Organizations Key Takeaways
Laloux identifies 3 breakthroughs that are consistent across what he defines as evolutionary organizations:
- Self-management. Think no bosses. No middle management. Instead a system based on peer relationships without the need for hierarchy or consensus.
- Wholeness. Instead of asking employees to leave their personal lives at the door, these organizations invite employees to reclaim their inner wholeness and bring all of who they are to work.
- Evolutionary purpose. Instead of trying to predict and control the future, members of these organizations are invited to listen in and understand what the organization wants to become, what purpose it will serve.
Laloux does not offer a prescriptive solution to how to become one of his identified evolutionary organizations. That may be one of the reasons that I liked the book so much. I have never seen those kind of solutions work. Why? Because organizations are like people-each one is unique.
However, there are some commonalities that he identifies through this research. Here are just a few that I personally connected with but there are many more to read about.
- Organization structure: consists of self-organizing teams and uses coaches as needed
- Meetings: very few meetings; generally ad-hoc when the need arises.
- Projects: radically simplified project management; no project manager; minimum (or no) plans or budgets
- Job titles: fluid and granular roles; no job titles
- Decision-making: fully decentralized
- Performance management: focus on team performance; peer-based review process
Some of you may read that list above and again, immediately reject this approach. I, however, say, “What if…?”