We have now spoken with 15 companies (as of October 2019). Some of our hypotheses were confirmed; some we can reject.
Hypothesis 1: a fractal approach is one key to success
One hypothesis was that new work and self-organization can best be implemented using a fractal approach. To this end, one works with those units that are open to change and positive about it. These units are leveraged to implement changes, learn, implement initial pilot projects and thus create success. These successes and success stories in turn create curiosity in other units and make them ready for change. A positive spiral builds up.
In fact, we have found this approach in some of the companies surveyed. Starting with positive emotion, taking away fears and anxiety – if necessary – and conveying purpose with change as a starting point has worked well several times. The remaining work gets done through relationships, the networks in the organization.
Hypothesis 2: implementation means ‘all or nothing’
Another hypothesis was the ‘all-or-nothing approach.’ The hypothesis was that self-managed teams (when we talk about ‘teams’ we mean areas/departments/teams) and hierarchically managed teams cannot work together productively: too different are the speed of the decision-making processes, too different the working processes, the approaches, the perspectives on people, too different the ‘brain states’ (see article 6 Trends and Insights).
We can clearly falsify this hypothesis on the basis of our interviews so far. It’s working. The prerequisite seems to be that expectations and the different procedures between the teams are addressed and clarified.
Hypothesis 3: Self-management leads to increased performance
Another hypothesis was formulated in the very clear expectation that self-organization would lead to increased performance in the teams.
This hypothesis is of course highly relevant. At the same time there are different results. While Michael Y. Lee could not find a KPI increase in a field experiment, Frédéric Laloux in Reinventing Organizations describes the positive effects and the high performance of self-managed companies several times.
In the companies we examined, the picture was consistently positive. This may be due to the fact that a change in strategy was often associated with the introduction of (more) self-organization. As a result, a KPI increase was at least partially immanent.
In addition, however, other aspects beyond classical KPIs have often come into focus. Aspects such as commitment, fun at work (positive emotion), flexibility, purpose and relationship became more relevant. Positive effects were found with regards to these aspects.
Expect us to check further hypotheses in our next articles.