Manifesto for the Propagation of a New Discipline of Self-Management

by Lanny Goodman on July 18, 2009

Last October, I drafted the above manifesto which I made available on one of my other sites (managementtech.com).  It occurred to me today that I should have posted it on my blog.  So here it is:

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Manifesto for the Propagation of a New Discipline of Self-Management

Whereas:

Organizations exhibit a wide variety of dysfunctions that undermine their ability to fulfill their potential and adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions and

Whereas:

These dysfunctions rob employees of enthusiasm, vitality, satisfaction and fulfillment, and companies of productivity, profitability and market leadership and

Whereas:

Traditional management practice was designed very intentionally to minimize employee contributions and

Whereas:

The marketplace is increasingly global providing natural advantages to those countries who have invested in technical education and/or whose cost of labor is very low and

Whereas:

The demographics of the workforces in many developed countries over the next ten years show dramatic declines in the number of available workers meaning that the labor pool will increasingly be a seller’s market and

Whereas:

We can no longer afford business practices which sub-optimize the productivity and creativity of either our organizations or our people and

Whereas:

It is morally wrong to continue to design and support organizations that treat employees like children, rob them of their vitality, and condemn them to supporting dysfunctional systems and processes when they know they are doing so and

Whereas:

The principles of traditional leadership, management, and organization design are human artifacts, designed by humans and are capable of being redesigned in ways consistent with the current realities of the markets, technology, labor pool and demographics and

Whereas:

We now know how to design more humane and effective organizations that are intrinsically created to leverage the total talent, intelligence, creativity, knowledge, experience, energy and enthusiasm of our employees,

Be it Resolved That:

  1. We commit to the propagation of a new model of organization design that requires a different framework for the disciplines of leadership and management, namely self-managing organizations.  We make the commitment to redesign for our time and context that which those who came before us designed for their time and context.  We do so drawing on the bodies of knowledge we have acquired in recent decades through the quality disciplines, science (especially complexity theory), and human development.
  2. In business, virtue creates its own reward.  We are confident that those leaders with the vision, courage, commitment and skill to be early adopters and build self-managing organizations will prosper and establish competitive leadership that will be very difficult for competitors to usurp.
  3. We will draw on the knowledge of the past for that which is useful, but recognize that in these times of dramatic change, experience can be as much a liability as an asset.
  4. The knowledge and experience we gain in building self-managing companies we will propagate and share freely with the confidence that the rising tide we create will raise all ships including our own.

Signed the 22nd day of October, 2008

Lanny Goodman

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I know all the whereases seem a bit high falutin’, but that’s the nature of manifestos.  The bottom line is this: we could dramatically increase quality, reduce cost and make millions of our businesses more productive, competitive and profitable if we got out of our employees’ way, gave them the tools (knowledge and feedback mechanisms) they need to unleash their creativity.

This is not new news.  Back in the ’90s Ralph Stayer and Jim Belasco wrote Flight of the Buffalo which I think may have been the premier business book of that decade, sharing their stories of how they got out of their employees’ way and built amazing companies.  Jack Stack did as well in The Great Game of Business.

How many millions of people wake up Monday mornings and are depressed about having to go to work.  This is data.  Traditional management has reached the end of its useful life as all things do.  It was incredibly powerful in its early years but it is much more a liability than an asset at this point in history.

Let’s rewrite the rules.  The only thing that is holding us back is fear of the unknown and inertia.

For more information, why not download a free copy of my book, The End of Management?  Click here to get a copy.

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