Say “Self-Management” and almost everyone gets the wrong idea.

Self-managing structures are appearing everywhere, and get increasing attention in the media. They seem to be much more adaptative, agile, motivating than traditional pyramidal organizations, and they appear to achieve spectacular results. But is this a simple fad, or a new phenomenon destined to spread? And why are most people dismissive when you mention the possibility to run organizations “without a boss”?

By Frederic Laloux. Published by Nelson Parker.

The way we manage organizations seems increasingly out of date. Survey after survey shows that a majority of employees feel disengaged from their companies. The epidemic of organizational disillusionment goes way beyond Corporate America-teachers, doctors, and nurses are leaving their professions in record numbers because the way we run schools and hospitals kills their vocation. Government agencies and nonprofits have a noble purpose, but working for these entities often feels soulless and lifeless just the same. All these organizations suffer from power games played at the top and powerlessness at lower levels, from infighting and bureaucracy, from endless meetings and a seemingly never-ending succession of change and cost-cutting programs. 

Over Labor Day weekend an extraordinary event took place in the world of self organized groups.  Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, hosted the World Convention of one of the largest and most respected 12-Step recovery programs, known as Narcotics Anonymous.  Over 18,000 recovering addicts were in attendance, from over 100 countries.