Home Concepts Organizational Theory It is Time to Reinvent the Organization: As Places for People to Express Passion and Purpose

It is Time to Reinvent the Organization: As Places for People to Express Passion and Purpose

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And, even less attention is being paid to a growing number of great companies working with new organizing models that have values like openness, caring, compassion, meritocracy, flexibility, collaboration, contribution, and dare I say it, even love.

We are seeing more organizations that are thriving by giving their associate more autonomy to make decisions because they know when you expand autonomy you expand people’s freedom to invent and create. We are seeing examples of companies that trust people to use their best intelligence to forward the organization’s purpose and values. Companies that know leadership is widely distributed. It is a myth that leadership is scarce, as the makers of Gore-Tex have been demonstrating for years.

If we were to start over and create an optimal design for organizations it would not be the default-operating model of power and authority based hierarchies. We would not invest so much attention on status; we would focus instead on contribution. We would not have seniority and tenure filter innovation and question competency. We would not subordinate the majority to the authority and control of a manager/supervisor/boss; we would trust people to act intelligently to forward the purpose of the organization. And, we would not maintain the myth that wisdom and decision-making know how, like cream, floats to the top, decision-making would be widely distributed.

There is an emerging body of leaders that are creating new business models that in turn are creating great organizations — organizations in which people have freedom to pursue their passions, where experimentation is valued, where leadership is an expression of who wants to follow. These organizations are communities of shared purpose and values in which people are engaged in mutual value exchange in the market with open-source systems and structures that adapt to change — they are vibrant, intelligent, adaptive, human social systems.

All that said, change is unlikely to come willingly, at least from the top of our organizations. Most senior executives are too invested in the current model. We need to make changes, where we are, with the resources we have and the collaborators we can rally to support us. As Jeff Bezos of Amazon puts it, “Never stop experimenting.”

Here is a question worth engaging with: if we were to create a new organizing model for business, and we did not know what role we would ultimately have in the model we designed, what would we design?

Here are some of my choices for design elements. The purpose of the new design: unleash people to contribute all they can for a noble purpose; create an organization that is sustainable; one that is adaptive to change; one that flourishes and knows when and how to cause its own transformation.

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