Instead of organizing people into "functions" we may take a cue from some of the greatest games, and organize around "quests". That may sound very designed, but what it means is ad hoc, problem centric organization in which people are allowed to organize themselves around what they perceive to be meaningful, important problems in need of solving.
- "Lock in" of talent may squelch passion, demoralize employees and of course lead to worse fit of talent to problems.
- Top down delegation of tasks utilizes fewer minds thinking about what problems are actually important, making the organization less adaptable, less able to correctly identify dangers or opportunities.
- Utilize the power of the many by, to some degree at least, letting everyone create "quests" for themselves and others. A quest is a description of a problem that needs solving, together with a reason for why it is important.
- Make quests visible to as many people as possible. Default: whole organization. Possibly even more visible, to customers or the public, where not inappropriate. Visibility enables serendipity. The point is to facilitate the match of person and task. For the right people to be able to self-select to the right tasks, the quests need to be visible. Depending on the size of the organization, this may mean different things, but for example you could keep a quest board on the intranet. Draw inspiration from Open Space technology. You need a grid, with the "what needs doing" (quests) visible to all. Then, whoever comes is the right people. Maybe some things turn out to not be that important after all. Or people agree it is important but nobody wants to do it - that would be yet another quest to solve. Perhaps outsource that task.
- Make people visible the same way. Of course, one of the best ways is if people actually know each other and have met face to face. Other than that, intranet profiles with skills, interests and current and completed quests may be helpful.
- Allowing people to "go" where the organization resonates the most with them enables what Lynda Gratton calls "hot spots" and makes sure everyone ends up, for the time being, exactly where they need to be - ie no under-utilization of peoples passions and skills!
- Roles are quest specific, which still allows people to be very specialized if they want - taking similar roles in all quests they participate in - or more generalized, synthesizing knowledge acquired from playing many different roles in different quests.
- From an employee point of view, being organized in a "function" or department simply isn't all that fun. I remember, as an employee, several times hearing about something they did in another department that I got excited about, thought I could contribute greatly to but had no way of helping out on while still doing "my job". Letting me decide what quests I embark on changes that.
- From a management point of view, a big reason function lock-in is a problem is because it squelches passion. You already have bright & talented people (right?) and if there is a place in your organization that resonates really strongly with them, you should let them go there. You need them to go there. That is when the magic happens.
- Essentially the point to create a kind of market for ideas, tasks & people inside the organization. The "currency" is the time and effort that people are willing to give to a particular cause, or quest.
By letting people self-select to quests that resonate most with them, and design their own quests, we allow both for passion-driven development of individuals and aggregate the wisdom of the crowd as people have the independence to use their judgment about what is meaningful and where they will have impact.