Liberating the company: returns of experience
The notion of liberated company remains controversial: some see in it an ideal model, others a deception. In any event, it raises a key question: how can you combine individual autonomy and collective efficiency?
Many business leaders are wondering how to modernize their organization’s operations. Indeed, the hierarchical pyramid model inherited from the 20th century is showing its limits. In an age of mass production, it was effective to apply decisions taken centrally, in a relatively stable environment. But it is showing signs of weakness nowadays. It is ill adapted to the requirements for local reactivity and permanent innovation raised by the turbulence of the markets. Additionally, it does not answer well the new expectations of the staff. Showing dedication and discipline against the promise of a lifelong career has become obsolete: in order to engage, staff want to feel heard, to enjoy autonomy in action that gives meaning to their work and fosters their professional development.
New governance models, focused on staff autonomy, have thus emerged. One of the most accomplished—and of the most radical—is this of so-called “liberated” companies. The term was coined by Tom Peters in the 90’s. It is today relayed by professors and speakers such as Isaac Getz. It designates organizational models in which the weight of hierarchy and support functions is minimized, to give actors in the field—workers, engineers, salesforce, etc.—the greatest possible margin of maneuver. Some organizations have gone to the extent of completely suppressing hierarchy and support functions. Coordination takes place through dialogue between the field players, within a framework of rules collectively defined and regularly debated to be adjusted according to needs.
This model is viewed with envy by some and with skepticism by others. Beyond announcements and self-promotion, does it really keep its promise? Is the maximal autonomy of individuals compatible with the necessary discipline to guarantee performance, respect of the regulations and security? Doesn’t regulation by peers have perverse effects, potentially more destructive than the arbitrary nature of hierarchy? The study of recent returns of experience allows some really instructive light to be shed on these points.
In this synopsis:
– Feeding the dialogue on work standards
– Liberating the company: to what extent can we bypass the hierarchical framework?
– Clarifying the conditions for exercising autonomy
the synopse (8 p.)
VisitorI want to buy
this synopsis (8 p.)
Removing the obstacles to personal initiative
Overcoming organizational obstacles that discourage individual initiative.
Liberate initiative taking
To be able to take initiatives, you must enjoy an environment favorable to risk taking. How can you develop a climate of psychological safety, a true key to the performance of teams and organizations?
Boost the involvement of your teams
Teamwork is not always a guarantee of effectiveness. Yet there are companies where the team members pull each other towards the top. How can you use these experiences to develop teams that are deeply involved and in search of excellence?
L'entreprise délibéréeMathieu Detchessahar (coordination)
[The de-liberated company] Is the liberated company the best way to give more action power to the staff?
Au-delà de l’entreprise libéréeThierry Weil, Anne-Sophie Dubey
[Beyond the liberated company] How some companies went about fostering the autonomy and participation of their staff.
Libérer l’entreprise, ça marche ?Laurent Karsenty (coordination)
[Liberating the company, does it work?] Eight case studies on companies that have adopted—on a greater or smaller scale—part or all of the principles of a liberated company.
Reinventing OrganizationsFrédéric Laloux
Inspiring examples from enterprises that favor the autonomy of their staff members, with several of them relying on the continuous development of their employees.
L’entreprise libérée, entre communication et impostureFrançois Geuze
[The liberated company, between communication and deception] An article that illustrates the criticisms made of the liberated company model and questions its limits.
Pourquoi le travail passera, dans le futur, par de nouvelles formes de gouvernanceLuc Bretones
[Why work will go through new forms of governance in the future] A presentation of two “liberated” company models: holacracy and sociocracy, with short testimonials by business executives that have adopted them.