Lately I keep coming across more and more organizations that are moving away from command and control - that are changing long standing practices that folks like Drucker, Hamel, Weick, and Mintzberg, year after year, have been telling us, “they don’t work.” It’s like all of a sudden organizations are listening!
For example, Google just recently figured out what makes high performing teams effective, 1) psychological safety, 2) having work that is meaningful to team members, 3) being able to count on other team members, 4) believing the work they are doing matters, and 5) clarity about goals and roles - all the soft stuff. Google also figured out that the best managers bring the team together periodically for all-hands-meetings to enable team members to build relationships with each other and that they expressed interest in the personal well-being of team members.
Whole Foods, SumAll and Squaremouth are now revealing everyone’s salary – no more secret salaries. And that transparency is equalizing pay for women and minority groups in those organizations!
Menlo Innovations, (Joy, Inc.) holds daily standup meetings, has no hierarchy, and has built a culture on the idea of “joy” at work.
That is not even to mention the rise of Agile across thousands of software companies, that is based on self-organizing teams, daily scrum meetings and driving decisions down to the lowest level.
And of course we already knew about Gore and Morning Star. Gore has teams organized around self-selected opportunities and leaders who emerge organically. While Morning Star practices self-management where employees’ decisions about what they will work on are determined by their commitments to others, rather than on management.
These are all well and good, and living proof that employees are capable of making decisions that benefit both themselves and the organization. But now I read that the big guys, both Microsoft and GE have done away with ranking employees - that bastion of command and control that Drucker told us years ago was worthless in improving performance and destroyed team work to boot! Expedia also did away with ranking and Netflix the same. Adobe Systems dropped performance reviews altogether last year.
Zappos has shown that you don’t have to be a startup to create a transformative culture. Zappos had a traditional culture that it transformed it into a culture that enables employees to live and work according to their personal values. The traditional corporate chain of command was replaced with a series of overlapping, self governing circles, giving employees more voice in the way the company is run.
And amazingly, even the US Army has been pushing decisions down to Platoons and Companies. General Stanley McChrystal, as Task Force Commander Iraq and Afghanistan, built within his Task Force a decentralized organization he called a “team of teams”. By pushing down power and decision-making he allowed teams to adapt quickly to changing events on the ground and come up with innovate solutions that could not have come from a top-down approach.
Increasingly organizations seem to be viewing employees as fully functioning adults! Is it really starting to change? Are we actually moving toward a time when people can be authentic at work? A time when employees can be proud of what their organizations stands for? Is the long awaited, great organizational transformation finally on its way?