Innovating Organizational Structure (Friday Quote)

photo-rel_architectIn Humanize, we mention W.L. Gore & Associates (the makers of Gore-tex) several times, because they are a shining example of management innovation. In Chapter 3 we talk about their structure and the fact that they have only two titles--leader and associate--and the even more interesting fact that it is the associates that give the title of "leader" to the 10% of employees who have that on their business card. In other words, you earn your title of leader from your followers, not from your boss. It's a reminder that organizational structure can, in fact, be innovated. From page 53:

Traditional organizational structure assumes that you can design the most efficient and effective structure in the abstract. It assumes you can write up the perfect job descriptions and then find the right people to fill them and implement the vision of whatever "architect" designed the system. Gore's approach is to let the design unfold based on the insight and learning of the people in the system itself.

When it comes to human resource management, we think experiments like W.L. Gore & Associates' more dynamic structure will provide more inspiration than the rigid and tired best practices on which we have been relying for decades. If we can give up our need for the comfort of the familiar and structured processes, we can discover ways to run our organizations that get us the same kind of results we have been seeing with social media.


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