TWO FORMS OF PEER-BASED ORGANIZATIONS


Just as organizations that lead with rank-based assumptions, logic, and practices can take on one of two forms ”"Big Chief" and hierarchical ”peer-based organizations assume one of two forms as well. Recall that with rank-based organizations there is the charismatic and personal command-and-control style of a Big Chief organization in its early stages, where all power and authority seems to rest with a single individual ”the Big Chief, usually the founder/owner. Then there is the more impersonal command-and-control style of the more mature, hierarchical organization. In either case, rank-based thinking dominates the organization, and the myth of leadership provides the justification for it.

When rank-based thinking is rejected, the very nature of the organization changes. Although there is no one best way to organize a peer-based organization, we have discussed the importance of peer-based thinking and managing through peer councils. Yet, based on inspiration from the attractors in chaos theory (see chapter 4), peer-based organizations begin as what I call " open " organizations and potentially evolve into true "leaderless" organizations, both of which are led by peer councils. (The forms for both rank-based and peer-based organizations are shown in table 8.)

Table 8: FORMS OF RANK-AND PEER-BASED ORGANIZATIONS

Rank-Based Organization Forms

Peer-Based Organization Forms

Big Chief Organization

Open Organization

Hierarchical Organization

Leaderless Organization

The open organization retains some traditional management positions and structure, though no longer operating from rank-based thinking. These positions are preserved for stability and institutional memory reasons. The open organization therefore serves as an important transition stage between the hierarchical and the true leaderless organization. The executives in these positions , however, perform the functions of coaches and mentors, not key decision makers within the organization. The decision-making role is performed by the peer-based leadership councils. As these councils become better trained and experienced , the need for any traditional management positions will diminish until it disappears entirely.

At this point in the organization's evolution, true peer-based ways of managing organizational issues ”the strange attractor of the leaderless organization ”will emerge. I do not believe we can chart in advance exactly what this will look like, nor do I believe there are any such companies today. But it is exciting to think about. When all members of the organization are true peers, it will make no sense to call one member a leader and others the followers. The emergence of open and leaderless organizations will be aided by, though not dependent on, our growing network society. It might be helpful to look at networks and peer-based organizations together.




The Myth of Leadership. Creating Leaderless Organizations
The Myth of Leadership: Creating Leaderless Organizations
ISBN: 0891061991
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 98

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