Letting Go of Control in Organizations

Without question, collective intelligence mechanisms are emerging as strong organizational tools; but there is a more general application that applies to the management realm. The main theme in the Work Revolution is empowering individuals and letting go of tight-fisted control to allow people the autonomy to do their work in the best way for them. Grassroots management is at the core of this:

  • Instead of rules, use guiding principles.
  • Push decision making down to the individuals.
  • Focus on individual impact, not activities.

All of these are examples of abdicating control and empowering workers. It is not, however, an easy transition to make, and I am not suggesting it can be done overnight.

Organizations accustomed to functioning according to top-down rules and monitoring carefully to ensure compliance, may find it tricky to let go of the reins. But by following grassroots management principles, it is possible to start small with a defined group, implement a grassroots-inspired initiative, and then replicate success over time, with more and larger groups. This is exactly what CSC, a global IT consulting and services company, did at one of its divisions.

CSC Germany experienced a downturn in 2007 and 2008. The initial response of leaders was to further tighten control, from the top. This only caused them to slide behind even further, so they decided to experiment with a completely new management approach, which they called their no-control ...

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