In “Beyond Empowerment: The Age of the Self-Managed Organization” Doug Kirkpatrick introduces a very different approach to competition in a global economy. Patents expire. Trade secrets leak. Competitors replicate superior business practices. Systems and talent are fungible. The only source of lofty and sustained competitive advantage is the ability to push beyond empowerment into the demanding yet rewarding frontier of true self-management.
Imagine a consequential company with no human bosses, no designated managers, no titles, no hierarchy, no visible structure, and no unilateral authority to fire anyone. Imagine such a company gaining ascendancy in its industry-organized solely around shared principles of freedom and self-management. Imagine a company held together by little more than its principles, mission, processes and a culture of learning and coaching. This is the story of such a company.
Going beyond empowerment means that people have all the power they need to perform effectively from the vey moment they join an organization, regardless of the level of responsibility or complexity. They are immune from threats or coercion. They are free to seek any needed resources or relationships on their own initiative. They are free to develop themselves and advance organizational learning. Ultimately they are responsible for results to themselves, their peers and the organization’s mission.
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