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« My YouTube Video: What is radical management? | Main | Why Can’t Obama Be More Open? »

July 24, 2010


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Great post, Steve. I enjoy reading your posts. You stress the importance of employee engagement, employee self-organization, etc. I was wondering: do you know of companies that are organized based on the passions of their employees? Of course most start-ups are. But I was thinking: what would happen if large companies would allow their employees to work on what they are passionate about. They could bail-out of their current projects, set up new ones, etc. What would happen? And will this work or will the un-interesting work (whatever that may be) be left undone?

Steve Denning

Hi Driessen,

Let me be clear that I am not suggesting that we let all employees work on whatever they happen to feel like working on, whenever.

This is actually a highly structured approach to getting things done. The work is done in short cycles. One has to reach agreement at the start of the cycle as to what will be accomplished in the cycle. It's the person who understands the client perspective who decides what are the priorities of things to be accomplished in a cycle. It's the team that says how much they can accomplish. If they agree, the client proxy steps aside and lets the team get on with it.

Funny thing: initially the team proposes way more than they can actually accomplish. A rule of thumb is to take what the team says it will accomplish and then deduct 40%.

Over time, the team begins to have a more realistic understanding of what it can accomplish.

At the end of the cycle, there is a review as to what has been accomplished. Then a new setting of priorities and a new cycle. As well as identifying any impediments that preventing the work getting done.

So this is the opposite of letting anyone do whatever they are passionate about. It is highly structured and focused on getting things that delight clients done at the earliest possible opportunity.

If the workers aren't passionate about delighting the clients, this will quickly become apparent, and then decisions will have to be taken. If they aren't taken, then we are back into traditional management.

Hope this clarifies things.


Hi Steve, I should have left my name. I'm Samuel Driessen. Thanks for the clarification! And the follow-up post.

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