A self-managing consultancy and future-of-work laboratory

In this article, I’ll show you how we work inside The Ready — an organization transformation consultancy. We’re a fully self-managing company; there are no bosses or managers, our team members set their own salaries, and we make decisions collectively. Throughout the article, we’ll share with you how we work, what we’ve failed at, what we’ve learned, and what we still struggle with.

We like to think of ourselves as a laboratory for the future of work — one that’s had the privilege of learning from dozens of companies and the broader future-of-work community. We’ve been willing to be wrong…

As reported in TechCrunch today, for the past six months my team and I have been quietly working on something new. It’s a software startup called Murmur, and it’s going to change the world of work.

The Problem

Let’s face it, work sucks. You’ve seen it firsthand. Tensions between teams. Meetings to prepare for meetings. Leaders who suck up all the oxygen in the room. Talented people unable to make decisions and move the work forward. Unclear priorities. A lack of diversity, equity, and belonging. Products and customers that suffer as a result.

The challenges humanity faces— from pandemics to politics —…

A bench full of star players does not automatically produce a winning team. Use these exercises to build a sense of membership on your team.

Photo by jacoblund.

Once a year, about a hundred miles outside of Reno, the Burning Man festival descends upon the desert for a weeklong social experiment in community, art, transcendence, and bacchanalia. Seventy thousand people supported by two thousand volunteers appear out of nowhere and stand up a self-contained society founded on ten principles: radical inclusion, self-reliance, self-expression, community cooperation, civic responsibility, gifting, decommodification, participation, immediacy, and leaving no trace. Simply by being there, by stepping into the space, you’re making a commitment to those values. And if you’re more than just a tourist, if you truly embody them, you’re a “Burner.” …

A new and improved tool for reinventing your organization

Need this in German? Lesen Sie diesen Artikel auf Deutsch!

Organization design is hard. Whether you’re the CEO of a global corporation, the founder of a startup, or a team leader inside one of the tens of thousands of companies that make our world turn, you’re up against one of the greatest puzzles ever conceived. We see evidence of this everywhere we look. Corporate longevity is down. Employee engagement is dismal. Leaders from every industry and geography tell us about the myriad problems they’re facing in their own organizations:

We need to go faster. Be more innovative. Make better decisions…

I recently announced that I’m writing a book on how and why to adopt self-organization (and the imminent death of bureaucracy and management). It’s straight talk about the struggle to create an organization (company, foundation, school, church, etc.) that runs itself. It will celebrate adaptivity, meaning, and abundance. As is my custom, I’m going to do my best to bring it all together and make simple sense of the forces, changes, and approaches colliding as we reimagine how we work.

However, as I embark on the research process, I would be so grateful to hear from each of you the…

How to rebuild your organization from the ground up

UPDATE: A newer version of this article (and tool) exists. Click here to read it.

Organization design is hard. Whether you’re the CEO of a global corporation, the founder of a startup, or a team leader inside one of the tens of thousands of companies that make our world turn, you’re up against one of the greatest puzzles ever conceived.

We see evidence of this everywhere. Leaders in every industry tell us about the myriad problems they’re trying to solve in their organizations:

We need to go faster. Be more innovative. Make better decisions. Break down silos. Work horizontally. Simplify our structure. Focus on the customer. Scale without losing what makes us great. Be more…

The debt that’s crippling your company isn’t on your balance sheet. Here’s what to do about it.

Debt has been around for thousands of years. You borrow money. The lender charges interest until you pay the money back. It’s simple. More recently, the software development community coined a term for another kind of debt: technical debt. Technical debt is the notion that taking shortcuts while writing code (or making repeated changes to code) has consequences later.

“Shipping first-time code is like going into debt. A little debt speeds development so long as it is paid back promptly with a rewrite … The danger occurs when the debt is not repaid. Every minute spent on not-quite-right code counts…

How to bring richness and rigor back into your workplace

Have you ever prepared something for your boss or leadership only to be told that it was far too complex and needed to be simplified? If so, you’re not alone. Every day millions of strategies, analyses, reports, and emails are reduced to a set of jargon-laced bullet points.

In theory, this sounds like a good idea. Simplicity! You don’t really understand something until you can explain it to a child, right? True, but your leaders and colleagues are not children. And in a dynamic and complex world, few decisions are truly simple. We need deeper understanding and sense-making in order…

This incredible image from http://frommfamily.com

Know what Gmail, Slack, Basecamp, Trello, and AWS have in common? They were all developed as internal tools first, and then released to the broader market.

Plenty of companies get the first part right — but releasing their internal tools to the open market? It’s downright heresy in most organizations. This is a flaw in org design and decision making that is costing firms millions.

Here’s how it happens…

Someone sees the need for a new tool. Maybe it’s a performance development app. Maybe it’s for team collaboration. Maybe it's a knowledge management system. It doesn’t matter. …

The billion dollar opportunity that no one sees

The first modern org chart, designed by Daniel McCallum and drafted by G.H. Henshaw

If you work at an organization with more than a dozen people, you’ve probably got an org chart. And chances are, it’s tucked away in the recesses of your hard drive or file cabinet. How can it be that the org chart is so popular that almost every company in the world has one, and yet, it’s so unhelpful that we ignore it from the moment it’s created? And is there a bigger opportunity hiding beneath that asymmetry? To find out, we have to ask ourselves three fundamental questions:

  1. What is an org chart?
  2. Where did org charts come from?

Aaron Dignan

Founder @theready and @murmur, investor, friend to misfit toys. Author of Brave New Work and co-host of the Brave New Work podcast.

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