Talking about the power of self-organization in companies, Dee Hock, himself a pioneer in building perhaps the largest self-organizing commercial entity in the world – VISA – has some recommendations in his book Birth of the Chaordic Age on the single most important responsibilities of any manager.
- “The first and paramount responsibility is to manage self; one’s own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperament, words and acts.” Not easy to do, and rarely focused on by managers – it is something that he believes we should spend half of our time on.
- The second most important responsibility “is to manage those who have the authority over us: bosses, supervisors, directors, regulators, etc.” ” Without their consent and support, you cannot follow you convictions, exercise judgements, use creative ability, achieve constructive results, or create an environment in which others can do the same.” He thinks that we should be spending a quarter of our time in managing superiors.
- The third highest priority “is to manage peers – people who have no authority over us and over whom we have no authority.” Customers, suppliers, associates, competitors, and our whole environment fall into this category. “Without their support, respect and confidence – nothing can be accomplished!” He thinks we should be spending one fifth of our time on that. Of course, you cannot “manage” those folks – but you can influence them, convince them, motivate them, etc.
- After spending all that time on managing self, superiors, and peers, that does not leave much time to manage those we have authority over. “Exactly! One need only select decent people, introduce them to the concept, induce them to practice it, and enjoy the process. If those over whom we have authority properly manage themselves, manage us, manage their peers, and replicate the process with those they employ, what is there to do but see they are properly recognized, rewarded, and stay out of their way?”
This sounds so “right” – so why is it that there are not more people managing this way?
Dee Hock closes this section with another interesting quote – one that many companies, especially start-ups, have tried to live by; but few have been able to sustain – “It is not making better people of others that management is about. It’s about making a better person of self. Income, power, and titles have nothing to do with that.”