Many organisations of various sizes are built on hierarchy and driven by status, encouraging people up the organisational management ladder. Managers are however set up to fail as not one person can be responsible for another person's choices and actions, let alone a group of people.
In recent years there has been more emphasis on 'leadership' and many discussions and articles have been written about the difference between management and leadership. The main difference between the two in my view is status within an organisation. With leadership, the level at which you operate in an organisation is not important. Anyone can show personal leadership and be a leader.
Is not the biggest barrier to leadership is hierarchy? There is plenty of evidence that managers are not necessarily the leaders employees follow in an organisation. Managers seek compliance with processes and manage the performance of others, while leaders aim to bring out the best in others and empower them to take personal responsibility for processes and performance, and develop more leaders.
So how do we change the design of the organisation to encourage personal leadership and personal responsibility? Organisations have been built on 3 disciplines, namely Strategy, Planning and Operations. In hierarchies these disciplines sit from top to bottom. In larger organisations, hierarchies are taller with duplication of disciplines, often leaving front line managers with nothing else to do but micro-manage staff often leading to productivity paralysis, lack of innovation and high staff turn over.
So do organisations really need layers and layers of management in order to be productive, or do the layers create barriers to productivity and creativity?
What would happen when we turn the hierarchy on its side so the Strategy, Planning and Operations sit side-by-side?
- Would collaboration be easier?
- Instead of money and status, would organisations be driven by strengths and passion?
- Would improved collaboration mean higher personal responsibility for actions?
- Would there be a flatted pay structure which benefits more people?
- Would organisations turn into communities of action?
- Would it be easier to innovate?
- Would there be improved trust and respect between the different disciplines?
- Would your workforce be more autonomous and as such self-motivated?
- Would improved collaboration mean leaner and more sustainable solutions?
Makes kind of sense, right? I'd welcome your thoughts.