Former Reuter’s IT Europe Manager and VISION business consultant Ken Thompson’s book Bioteams is a little gem that describes how to create high performance teams based on examples found in the natural world.  As he notes in the first chapter, “after [nature’s] 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival. We are learning, for instance, how to grow food like a prairie, create ceramics like an abalone, create color like a peacock, self-medicate like a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a hickory forest.”

How the Biological Cell Serves as an Example for Organizational Growth - Martijn Kriens

By Amy Andresen


BSO started out as a one-man organization (Eckart Wintzen) and grew to be a multinational of 6000 people, and yet it never felt like a large bureaucratic organization. The reason for this was the fact that the whole organization was based on units of a maximum of 50 people (called cells). The organization grew by dividing a cell in two and letting each half grow to 50 people again.

In BSO, most authority was delegated to these cells with very little management from above but with a strict framework of accountability and personal responsibilities. Adherence to this framework was monitored on a peer-to-peer basis. A former director at BSO, Martijn Kriens, describes the way BSO created a structure to work as a big organization while still allowing great personal freedom. He concludes his presentation with a discussion of the vulnerabilities of such an organization.

Dabbawalas, Ducks and Deep Simplicity - Ken Everett

By Amy Andresen

Case Studies

Ken Everett’s experience developing “Think on Your Feet Around the World” (from 3 to 300 colleagues in 30 countries) has convinced him that there is an opportunity for business advantage in the way we organize. Inspired by Dee Hock’s vision of the chaordic organization, the dubbawalas of India, and his own international network, Ken will discuss ways to produce organizations that are exceptionally innovative, resilient and leader-full.

IEM’s Technology-Enabled Self-Directed Performance - Larry Mandelberg

By Amy Andresen


Larry Mandelberg introduces attendees of the Self-Management Institute's 2010 Symposium to two software systems created by Innovative Education Management, Tension Charting and PayCalc, which have enabled employees to more effectively manage themselves.  Their Tension Charting software is a planning tool (focused on identifying the path from the current reality and the stated goal).  The PayCalc program provides a transparent look into the division of responsibilities and tasks within the organization, automatically calculates pay rates based on work for which members have taken responsibility and supports self-directed personal development.

Innovative Education Management is a charter school management company, managing four charter schools in the State of California.  Learn more about IEM at