Who needs a smart arse management consultant?

While I can get excited as the next person about new ways of working and thinking about our organisations I am aware that for many such considerations seem impossibly abstract and self indulgent. Work for a lot of people, maybe most, is an unremitting grind of unrealistic expectations and diminishing resources. Their organisations are still dominated by a management culture that hasn’t changed in decades. Straying from predictable and safe behaviours seems like sheer lunacy.

This can be frustrating both for them and for those who can see a better way.

However there is no point getting frustrated with people for not being where you think they should be. They are where they are and you have to go to where they are to help them. Genuine, tactical attempts to help them are the only way forward. Small steps within the grasp of the individual is the only real possibility – whoever that individual is and whatever their position.

5 thoughts on “Who needs a smart arse management consultant?

  1. Hi Euan,

    Small steps to improve our organisations – ‘Trojan mice’, as you’ve called them – certainly seem crucial.

    But it’s been a bit of a revelation – for me – to see that there are quite a few organisations (both large and small) that truly show that the non-hierarchical, self-managed, human way can thrive. And may even be the future for all organisations…?!

    You can read read about 12 different organisations in Frederic Laloux’s inspiring recent book ‘Reinventing Organisations – A Guide to Creating Organisations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness’.

    You can get a copy of the book for free here (and pay later): http://www.reinventingorganizations.com/pay-what-feels-right.html

    Frederic is speaking in London later this month. It will be live-streamed online – and you can put a question to him via Twitter, which he will probably answer during the Q+A (something I initiated while I was working at the RSA): http://www.thersa.org/events/our-events/how-to-become-a-soulful-organisation

    Don’t miss it!

    I can’t help feeling that if the rolling out of ‘Holacracy’ – one of Laloux’s case studies – at the $1bn US online retailer Zappos really does lead to the rise in innovation the CEO envisages (via increased staff autonomy and creativity) then an awful lot of organisations might get interested in starting a similar transformation. Farewell to hierarchy? Well, not quite. But it’s a start… 😉

    Holacracy is the only approach in Laloux’s book which has been made easily transferable from its original organisation. The UK Holacracy people have an introductory workshop next month, if you want to learn more: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/holacracy-introductory-workshop-registration-5850179043

    Matthew Mezey@matthewmezey


    1. I reckon Zappos is going to stay pretty isolated for a while to come as an example, for the sort of reasons my post was about. Most folks, and I include the CEOs are nowhere ready yet. I do think though that the caution they feel about doing something radical at the end of their career is beginning to be replaced by a fear of being the one who left their organisation in a perilous state by not seeing change coming. We can but hope!


  2. Well, hope springs eternal, after all…

    Whatever happens with Zappos and Holacracy, I suspect we’ll all be hearing about whichever way it goes! 😉

    I heard recently that Amazon – which has bought Zappos – decided to somehow copy that famous Zappos idea of offering to pay any new staff $3,000 if they decide they want to leave at the end of onboarding process. Made me hope that if Zappos succeeds with Holacracy, perhaps Amazon would be wanting to copy that from them next! 😉

    This was the interesting rationale that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gave for wanting to implement Holacracy:

    “Research shows that every time the size of a city doubles, innovation or productivity per resident increases by 15 percent. But when companies get bigger, innovation or productivity per employee generally goes down. So we’re trying to figure out how to structure Zappos more like a city, and less like a bureaucratic corporation. In a city, people and businesses are self-organizing. We’re trying to do the same thing by switching from a normal hierarchical structure to a system called Holacracy, which enables employees to act more like entrepreneurs and self-direct their work instead of reporting to a manager who tells them what to do.”


    1. He is certainly saying the same things and moving in the right direction. I’ve just heard mumblings that things may not be as different there as you might hope. Just a sign of how long it will take to fundamentally shift attitudes I guess.


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