“Self-organisation is not a startling new feature of the world. It is the way the world has created itself for billions of years. In all of human creativity, self-organisation is how we begin. It is what we do until we interfere with the process and try to control one another.”

Margaret Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers

Not all organisations can or should embrace ‘self-management’ entirely. Often the systems we are working within are not sufficiently evolved to enable this to be a complete reality. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t explore ways that elements of self-organisation can’t be employed to make our work more meaningful and to enables us all to contribute according to our passions and talents.

Self-organising systems doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘self-management’ or Holacracy (though it can). It may simply mean the discipline of exploring your organisation’s systems and processes to ensure they exert as little ‘top-down’ power as possible. For example, could you have a ‘peer review’ rule rather than a ‘one-up’ rule for approvals? Could you ensure that decisions are made by those who they will impact the most?

If this sounds a bit scary, don’t panic. It isn’t about chaos and complete disorder… its just about a different way of creating order.

Some of our issues in this area stem from a common human trait, to assume that being busy is the same as making progress.

Most organisations I’ve worked in, and worked with, are so busy taking action and looking productive that they never stop to ask whether they are doing the right things, or doing them in the right way. Too much focus on action suggests a lack of mindfulness, and a disconnect with evolutionary purpose.

  • Do you know how to critically evaluate how your decisions (and decision making processes) make people feel?
  • Do you know how to review systems and policies to determine whether they are tools of control or genuinely necessary?
  • Do you know how to design new policies and procedures with the people who will need to implement them?
  • Do you know how to let go of control?