Can We Manage Without Managers?

The prime emerging trend in organizational performance is the movement toward self-organization. People work within specific structures and cultures allowing them to distribute governance and organization. It's now popularized as holacracy by companies like Zappos. I'm framing it as Smart Organizations, powered by the Agile Canvas.

It's not the removal of hierarchy that makes it work. It's the institutionalization of intentional structures and cultures that support inspired, aligned and engaged teamwork. People work smarter together than they ever could in hierarchical structures and cultures. People work with unprecedented levels of integrity, initiative and inclusion.

It is not immediately embraced by everyone, as every organization has people at all levels who prefer compliance to engagement based on narratives that people are intrinsically deficient and therefore not capable of being smarter together. It demands far more integrity, initiative and inclusion than some people are accustomed to.

It's time to move toward this model, especially since as the global research makes clear, 90% of people in hierarchical command and control contexts work without engagement or passion. The two dominant reasons the transition has been slow is the lack of learning about the model and the ability of managers to resist the entitlements of their power and compensation inequalities. It will take learning and courage to finally embrace how work can be transformative.