Self-Managing Organizations: Collaboration or Chaos?

  • 3 mins read

In my previous posts, I introduced a new paradigm for self-managing organizations. We no long accept total control from leaders who command tasks be done. Increasingly we work in teams.

And now, some experts believe we’re about to make another shift in the way we manage people to peak performance. This new organizational model, called Evolutionary-Teal, gives autonomy and responsibilities for managerial tasks to self-managing teams.

Frederic Laloux in Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness offers several examples of progressive companies that are already using self-management with spectacular results both for people and for profits.

But there’s a lot of skepticism about self-management principles.

  • Won’t this setup lead to chaos?
  • Who’s going to set strategy, allocate resources, manage and lead?

Most of us have been educated in management principles and have worked in hierarchical corporations for so long that we can’t imagine any other way.

There’s one workforce group that immediately understands and embraces self-management: millennials. Young people who have grown up using the Internet are no stranger to self-organizing. In the disruptive online world, influence is based on contribution and reputation, not position. Some say millennials are hard to manage. Maybe not, if they have responsibilities and can contribute.

But this requires managers to abandon their efforts to control in favor of sharing power. It also means developing a tolerance for trying new things, making mistakes and adjusting course. Are we too ingrained with old organizational models to let new systems and structures evolve?

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ~ Albert Einstein

In my work in companies, I often see people wearing virtual masks and uniforms at work, trying to conform to expected roles in achievement-oriented, pluralistic organizations. Self-management relieves the burden of trying to meet someone else’s expectations. It requires bringing the whole person to work.

The Evolutionary-Teal Paradigm creates a space to support the journey to wholeness. Things happen when we bring our complete selves—our potential, creativity and full engagement—to work.

Self-management drives engagement because we become more of who we are and more essential to everyone else. The emphasis is on engaging in wholesome ways to further the organization’s purpose.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you; you can contact me here and on LinkedIn.

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