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The Process-Managed Org Chart: The End of Management and the Rise of Bioteams Adapted from the forthcoming book, Dot Cloud: The 21st Century Business Platform (www.mkpress.com/cloud) An overlay of end-to-end process management onto existing functional organizations has its rough edges, to say the least. In fact, the transformation to a process-managed enterprise could really mean the End of Management, as we know it. What might a process-managed org chart look like? If you consider that today’s
    1 The Process-Managed Org Chart:The End of Management and the Rise of Bioteams Adapted from the forthcoming book, Dot Cloud: The 21st Century Business Platform  (www.mkpress.com/cloud)An overlay of end-to-end process management onto existing functional organizations has itsrough edges, to say the least. In fact, the transformation to a process-managed enterprise couldreally mean the End of Management, as we know it.What might a process-managed org chart look like? If you consider that today’s value chainsconsist of over 20 autonomous companies, each running according to its own clock, then we’llhave to unbundle our traditional hierarchal models that structure our organizations, whereinformation flows through filters up and down the command chain, and look to nature for newpatterns that have been under development for millions of years. By mimicking the designs ofnature, the new org chart will no doubt look far more like the complex adaptive system made upof autonomous, self-organizing, self-managed teams found in nature.While I’ve argued many times that operational innovation, via business process management isthe cornerstone of 21st century competitive advantage, operational innovation will be for naughtwithout innovation of another kind, Management Innovation. When responsiveness trumpsefficiency, hierarchical command-and-control management systems fall flat. In a world of hyperchange, centrally controlled hierarchies simply cannot see the opportunities or move quicklyenough (remember the Soviet Union). Even if they utilize advanced business processmanagement (BPM) systems, their management processes and structures cannot adapt with therequired speed.What pioneering companies are doing is to replace top-down pyramids with trellises oflatticework, where each lattice represents an autonomous, self-managed team.    2 Sound farfetched and anarchistic without central control? You bet. But, guess what? That’s amirror image of the real world, a world made up of complex adaptive systems.Turning to the Santa Fe Institute’s John H. Holland: “A Complex Adaptive System (CAS) is adynamic network of many agents (which may represent cells, species, individuals, teams, firms,nations) acting in parallel, constantly acting and reacting to what the other agents are doing. Thecontrol of a CAS tends to be highly dispersed and decentralized. If there is to be any coherentbehavior in the system, it has to arise from competition and cooperation among the agentsthemselves. The overall behavior of the system is the result of a huge number of decisions madeevery moment by many individual agents.” i  Complex adaptive systems are managed without managers!Can businesses manage without managers?Indeed. Just look at W. L. Gore, the company that makes Gore-tex, the fabrics that keep youwarn and dry, but that also breathe, and Glide dental floss. In 1958, former Dupont engineer andgeek (e.g., no MBA), Bill Gore would forego a ladder-like hierarchy and create an organizationwith a flat, lattice-like organizational structure where:    There are no “employees,” and everyone shares the same title: associate.    There are over 8,500 associates that have, so far, turned out over a thousand innovativeproducts.    There are neither chains of command (pyramids or reporting structures) nor predeterminedchannels of communication. Anyone can talk to anyone, anytime.    There are a large number of small, autonomous, self-organizing teams that function as a webof startup companies.    There are no bosses, no V.P.s, executives, or managers—there are “sponsors” and“leaders.” Associates are only responsible to their teams: Everyone’s the boss, and no one’sthe boss. There are no slackers.    There are no standard job descriptions or “assignments.” Associates make sets of“commitments” to their teams, and sometimes unorthodox titles emerge,e.g., a “category champion.”    Associates choose to follow leaders rather than have bosses assigned to them.    Performance reviews are based on a peer-level rating system.What’s really going on that makes a real difference at Gore? The company has closed the“information gap.” Humans are unique in their ability to manipulate information outside the body,and are constantly hungry for information and narratives. While we speak of a growing wealth gapin today’s economies, the volume and depth of information available to senior executivescompared to the shop floor worker is staggering in typical corporations. Left starved forinformation, it’s little wonder why curiosity and creativity remain in lock-down among the rank andfile in most corporations. As John Caddell writes in his Shoptalk  blog, “Perhaps it’s concern forconfidential information leakage, or for PR fallout, or that management simply doesn’t trust in theemployees’ [Theory X] ability to add value to innovation.” ii   Got Team? According to the distinguished Indiana University technology professor, Dr. Curtis Bonk, “This isthe age of employee participation, multiple leaders and yet no leader, and prompt communication,as well as the technologies that make all this possible.” Got team? You’d better. To succeed intoday’s dynamic, technology-enabled environment, you must be able to function in and throughteams. But, if we stick with our current pyramid-style designs of our organizations, we will not beable to meet the growing needs of our communities in the high-change global economy.    3 The discipline of bioteaming  offers a vision of what successful teaming experiences look like inthe interconnected world of the 21st century. A February 2008 Business Week  feature, “UsingNature as a Design Guide,” focused on how the “biomimicry” design movement helps companieslook to the natural world to help take their business green. The feature reported on the pioneeringwork of Janine Benyus, biologist-cum-evangelist, the driving force behind the movement. In herwritings she detailed how companies could study nonpolluting, energy-efficient manufacturingtechnologies that have evolved in the natural world over billions of years.Now enter Ken Thompson, the former CIO with Reuters, who over the past ten years has takenthe field of biomimicry from innovation related to physical things on to the realm of socialstructures. Thompson takes ideas from Nature about how groups perform and operate, andapplies them to enhance how humans can work together in groups and teams.Thompson’s “bioteaming” is about designing and implementing organizational teams that operateon the basis of the communication principles that underpin nature’s most successful groups. Spotthe common theme: the waggle dance of honeybee, the pheromone trails of ants, the one-wayinformation bursts of migrating geese. According to Thompson, nature’s teams havecharacteristics that are not usually present in organizational teams: Collective Leadership: Any group member can take the lead. Nature’s groups are never led exclusively by one member; different group members lead asneeded. When geese migrate it is well known that the goose leading the V formation rotates.However, this is not just because they get tired and need to fly in another goose’s slipstream for awhile. The real reason is that no one goose knows the whole migration route. Collectively,between them, they know the migration route but no one individual knows. So a goose leads thepart of the journey where it knows the way and when it recognizes “I don’t know where to go next”it flies back into the V and waits for another goose to take over.This is “Collective Leadership,” the right leader for the right task at the right time.The human species seems to be the only species that trusts in a single leader (or smallmanagement team) to know the whole path, on behalf of the community. Multi-Leader groupspossess much greater agility, initiative and resilience than groups that are only led by a singleexclusive leader. Instant Messaging: Instant whole-group broadcast communications. Nature’s groups use short instant messages that are instantly broadcast and received “in situ”wherever the receivers are. These messages are very short and very simple – essentially just twotypes:    Opportunity Messages  . Food, nesting materials, Prey    Threat Messages. Predators, Rival coloniesAnts achieve such messaging by using a range of chemical pheromones that they emit and lay intrails, and that are instantly picked up by the other ants. Bees use dances, for example, thewaggle dance that is danced by a hive member who has found a food supply. The hive mateswatch the dance and the angle of the axis of the dance points them to the food supply. It isimportant to note that:    These messages are group broadcasts and are not replied to.    They are received and acted upon immediately; there is no concept of a 2-stagecommunication that is received at point A and acted on later at point B.A critical point is that these instant messages are so simple they really act just as “alerts.” Therecipient has to “decide” what to do. Such instant messages do not convey orders or instructions. Ecosystems: Small is Beautiful…but Big is Powerful.    4 In nature, the size of the group is always right for the job and small groups link into bigger groups,that in turn link into still bigger groups. Where you a have a very large group or a crowd, it is onlypossible to achieve coordinated action if each member does the same thing at the same time.Thus a crowd can move a stone or excavate a hole, but large scale innovation is another thingaltogether, requiring “Mass collaboration.” Could a virtual team have a million members? Recentdevelopments in mass collaboration, distributed computing and the wisdom of crowds suggest,the answer might be yes. Biological teams such as Ant or Bee societies, can contain up to a million members in a single mature colony    or hive—all of whom can act as a unit.Let’s take a physical example of mass collaboration, the tiny European upstart, SkypeTechnologies S.A., that turned a trillion-dollar industry upside down, by dialing up a vast, hiddenresource: its own users. Skype, the newest creation from the same folks whose popular file-sharing software Kazaa freaked out record execs, also lets people share their resources—legally.When users fire up Skype, they automatically allow their spare computing power and Netconnections to be borrowed by the Skype network, which uses that collective resource to routeothers’ calls. The result: a self-sustaining phone system that requires no central capitalinvestment —just the willingness of its users to share. Says Skype CEO Niklas Zennström: “It’salmost like an organism.” iii  Up until recently, the size of the group has meant that some dimensions of biological teamworkand group behavior were not able to be reproduced in human teams and organizations due to thislack of scale. The Internet might change all this. A June 20, 2005 Newsweek  magazine article,“The Power of Us,” [52] reports that “Mass Collaboration on The Internet is shaking up Business.”The article identifies three types of Internet-based “mass collaboration” that could becharacterized as:    Give and Take   – for example creating shared, distributed computing capacity [e.g., SETI]    Needles in Hay  stacks – connecting to other like-minds through shared interest, rather thanpersonal relationship [e.g., Wikipedia]    Participation through Passion  – co-inventing with others based on passion, rather than moneyas the motivator [e.g., Linux]So large groups enable scale, mass, reach and range. However, in a small group each membercan meaningfully do different things at the same time—in other words, “Division of labor” andcomplex coordination. So a small group may not be able to lift a large weight but it could design aclever tool to make lifting that weight much easier. Nature shows us the importance of having theright group size for the job at hand. It also shows us that “one size does not fit all,” in terms ofgroups, by its ability to have all sizes of interconnected groups. For example, in the ant worldthere are castes within colonies, within food webs, within ecosystems. A critical point for humanteams is that they need to allow members to enjoy both the small group dynamic for innovation,and the large group dynamic for scale [a perfect case for Virtual Networked Enterprises]. Clustering: Engaging the many through the few  Nature’s networks are clustered. The technical term for this is “scale-free networks.” In simpleterms, what this means is that in most naturally occurring networks some of the nodes have manymore connections than the average. This makes sense instinctively. For example, some of ourfriends seem to know everybody. If we need to reach someone we don’t directly know, we mighttry them first. This structure also describes the neurons in the brain and other emerging socialstructures such as the “hub” sites that are the best connected on the Internet. What this meansfor teams is that if you are lucky some of your team members will have extreme connectivity interms of relationships. The team needs to take advantage of these existing connections ratherthan try and have the team leader(s) create and manage new connections from scratch.These highly connected people are described elsewhere in various terms, including “alphausers,” “connectors” and “influentials.” But no matter what they are called, if they are well
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