Management Kits blog posts on self-managing organizations

Get more practical insights from our Management Kits blog posts on self-managing organizations.

Key ideas

  • Decentralized organizations: traditional and radical approaches: Discussing two fundamental approaches towards decentralization and self-management in organization design and how they differ.
  • Why the future of work will start with autonomous teams: Three reasons why the well-established stream of management thinking and practice concerning self-managing teams is a core building block for organizational innovation. 
  • The difficult quest to replace managerial hierarchy: If you had to name the single most important building block of the modern organization, what would it be? We share our answer, as well as the reasons why managerial hierarchy and the corresponding reporting relationship between boss and subordinate are so persistent, despite all its downsides.
  • Self-managing organizations: learnings from science: Definitions of self-organization from science carry insights for self-organization in management. Fundamental features of self-organizing systems are equally valid for self-organization in business.
  • Making sense of vertical and horizontal decentralization: Companies that want to strengthen their self-organizing capabilities have to move from managerial delegation to granting the authority to self manage in a well-designed, decentralized approach. This can be achieved by moving incrementally away from traditional vertical decentralization towards horizontal decentralization in the organization’s design. 

Case studies and practical self-management examples

Governance, control, and decision making

  • Decentralized systems require decentralized governance: Compliance and control are often raised as concerns when managers discuss potential moves towards higher levels of self-management in their organizations. In this blog post, we discuss the requirements and principles for decentralized governance to effectively replace oversight and control that has traditionally been based on boss-subordinate reporting relationships. 
  • Building effective governance in decentralized organizations: How do you replace oversight systems based on managerial hierarchy with decentralized governance systems, in order to support higher levels of self-organization? In this blog post, we discuss four questions to guide the journey towards decentralized set-ups.
  • Self-managed teams: Are they self directed or self organized? The terms self-managed teams, self-directed teams, and self-organized teams are often used interchangeably. However, there are subtle differences that are important to understand as practitioners explore variations of decentralized organizational structures.

The leadership perspective

  • Why self-directed teams require more leadership, not less: Self-managing organizations usually get rid of single team leader or boss roles. And yet, in such decentralized, self-organizing teams, leadership often becomes more important. We discuss why this is the case - and the implications for leadership development planning.
  • On delegation - From delegating tasks to delegating power: Effective delegation in business requires a reliable, rule-based approach that not only delegates work, but also delegates the authority to make relevant decisions. In order to achieve the organizational benefits of delegating leadership and avoiding common pitfalls, leaders have to get both the WHAT and the HOW of delegating power right. 
  • Two ways to end micromanagement in your organization: You either develop your leaders so that they don't micromanage, or you structure your organization and instill rules so that micromanagement cannot happen.