[Enlivenning Edge is happy to be an affiliate ecosystem partner recommending this conference.]
Let’s play good news and bad news.
The good news is that I’m seeing more and more self-management and trust-ful and leader-ful organizations emerge, or traditional organizations that include more patterns of shared responsibility.
What’s the bad news?
I’m worried. I’m worried because I think the movement has significant gaps.
Let me explain. Every organization consists of team-level and organization-level functions. (See, for example the Viable Systems Model) The team level functions do the major work of the organization— producing the things, providing the service, selling and marketing. Self-organization is relatively easy on those levels.
What’s hard is to find the right balance between centralizing and decentralizing the organization-level functions that create alignment.
For example, how does one make sure there’s an intentional organization-level strategy? How do we make sure the infrastructure and information systems are set up in such a way that information can flow through the whole organization as needed without bumping into blocks?
When those organization-level functions aren’t filled, there are two possible outcomes:
The gap is filled with the old power structures. The strategy is set by the old leadership team (with little acknowledgement or process to justify that), and they also have all the information and make the major financial decisions. This is common in organizations that switched from hierarchical organizing towards self-management.
The gap is not filled at all. In those cases, the organization lacks organization-level agency to make any organization-wide decisions that would create alignment. This is common in organizations that want to resist any structures that even appear to be hierarchical even if the hierarchy is natural and not a dominator or power-over hierarchy..
One of the major places where this dynamic plays out is in budgeting and salaries. The dynamics mirror what I’ve said in general:
In some self-organized organizations, everything is decided together but the budget and often salaries. Those decisions are still held by the old leadership. That can be frustrating and lead to situations where decentralized decision-making is not empowering but feels at the mercy of those who can enable or cut projects unilaterally.
In other organizations, there is little intentionality about how money is spent. While a high trust, high autonomy approach can feel liberating, it’s also known to increase spending. Is that what we want?
To begin to close this gap, Sociocracy For All is hosting a 2-day mini conference with speakers who are seasoned in self-management and don’t shy away from talking about the trickiest topics: salaries, budgets, and strategy. Topics will come from participatory budgeting, Beyond Budgeting, Teal organizing, DAOs, RenDanHeYi (Haier), sociocracy and others!
Power, Purpose and Pay. Ways to decide about money together.