From Pyramids to Circles
We form the groups, but they find their own leaders. That’s not a lack of structure, that’s just a lack of structure imposed from above. – Ricardo Semler
In a Nutshell
One of the common misconceptions about self management, is that there is no structure and there are no leaders. Self managed organizations are not a place where everybody does what they want. Power structures in these organizations exist but the structure is almost flat, with very little layers.
This power structure exists to manage the company but it is not necessarily dictated by hierarchy.The traditional power structure looks like a pyramid, where the power is concentrated on the top and it trickles down to the large proportion of the company. At Semco, the power structure looks like concentric circles, usually made up of 3 layers. Each layer represents a category such as executives, leaders and the team.
By avoiding the pyramidal command and control power structure and adopting the concentric circles, the company is eliminating loss of information and autonomy that is often a result of miscommunication that can occur in a many-layered, top-heavy structure. The switch to focus on coaching, facilitation, management and a peer to peer relationship that coexists in a flatter structure could be initially uncomfortable, especially for those who are traditionally middle management. However, when managed well, the long-term value will show itself.