Is self-management growing, shrinking or stagnating?
As I was tossing around ideas with a friend, he asked if the number of self-managed companies was growing. After rushing to say "of course," I realized that I didn't know. We hear about companies adopting self-management, but we don't hear about the ones that fall back to command-and-control.
Have you guys looked into this at all? Have you been keeping track of the companies you've had contact with?
I believe the number is growing, but that’s a highly biased perspective as well. Not based on actual data. So, in fact I am not sure. A quick peek into Google Trends does show a growth in the search term “agile” but not in for example “self-management”. On the other hand, founder of Visa Dee Hock told us he gets loads more requests and emails about his pioneering work then before. He has been known as a pioneer for decades. Still, all this would only argue for a lot of talk, but none of this says anything about action.
Conclusion: I don't know. It might be that the number is steady and that just more connections are being made between the ones interested in the topic and/or the ones practicing progressive ways of working.
Regarding your other question: yes, we do see companies that revert to command-and-control. Take for example FAVI, where they went back to traditional hierarchy and saw profitability drop (see https://corporate-rebels.com/favi-part-2/). Joost wrote about more of the ones that went back here: https://corporate-rebels.com/when-pioneering-companies-fail/.
I agree that the work needs to continue. More awareness, more lessons, more do’s/don’ts, and more research should help us to better understand and act with this different organizational approach. It’s something that has to mature and a hell of a lot more work is needed for that.
Your work with Nearsoft is extremely important in that!
In a previous post we introduced the concept of “middle-manager-less-organizations” (MMLOs for short). These companies run their businesses successfully without a middle management layer. Large and small, they point the way forward for organizations wanting to go beyond the traditional hierarchical/bureaucratic model, a way of organizing that is increasingly outdated and has deep roots in ‘industrial age thinking’.
In 2005, Vineet Nayar became the leader of Indian IT and consulting company HCL Technologies. As a result, 25,000 people looked up to him and waited for his direction. But there was a problem. "I knew in my heart that we as leaders had done nothing to win the trust of our employees."