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10 Principles of Emergent Organizations

April 18, 2017


This month's Gifted Leaders e-Newsletter features a Medium article by Sam Spurlin, organization design guy at The Ready. Spurlin outlines ten design principles that are foundational to the future of organizations and the kinds of mindsets and behaviors that are needed to bring a legacy organization into the 21st century.


Highlights from the Article


Not every journey of organizational transformation will look the same. However, the application of the following key principles is common to a growing number of organizational redesign efforts and the organizations who dedicate themselves to these principles experience greater success than those who don’t.


  1. Purpose​: ensure clear vision, mission, and meaning is present for every team, every cell, at every level; let alignment be the prerequisite for autonomy.

  2. Transparency​: default to open, democratize data, and work in public to create a shared consciousness and enable informed decisions everywhere.

  3. Networks​: replace hierarchy with a network of decentralized teams and cells, loosely coupled but tightly aligned, dynamically coordinating for value creation in a marketplace model, go beyond flat/horizontal; focus on and reward effective teams (not individuals).

  4. Empowerment​: enable individuals and teams to make local decisions and, thereby, push authority closer to the customer/market; trust, self-manage, self-organize, use an advice process, focus on consent not consensus, and promote autonomy.

  5. Learning​: experiment, learn by doing, start by starting, validate assumptions, be data-driven, celebrate failure that creates learning, perform retrospectives and postmortems.

  6. Lean​: put simple rules in place that encourage limited scale (at a team level and an org level), reduce layers, reduce time, reduce pages in the presentation, focus on the balance between simplicity and clarity.

  7. Talent Density​: make hiring everyone’s first priority, trust every hire to run the company, raise the bar with every new employee, never ever compromise.

  8. Continuous Steering​: reduce the cycle time, on everything (work, feedback, budgeting, planning, org change); fail fast, learn fast, break things down, smaller moves, smaller decisions, iterate, create rituals and rhythms.

  9. Market Driven​: let the market (not leaders) steer the organization, through market pull, focus on value creation and relentlessly remove org debt that is preventing customer outcomes.

  10. Take Risks​: adopt a bimodal strategy (sure things and wild swings), commit to taking market risks, reward market making behavior, ensure variation, double down on winners.


Read the full article here.


The Gifted Perspective


Sam Spurlin’s company, The Ready, has a stated purpose “to change how the world works by making it adaptive, meaningful, and abundant.” Unfortunately, many workplaces are anything but those things. Year after year, employee engagement data tells us that too many people experience their organizations as bureaucratic, uninspiring, and more likely to be characterized by a mindset of fear or scarcity than abundance. Let’s change that!


Are you ready to change how you work? We can assist you and your team in creating a dynamic, inspired work place that engages people, that utilizes each person’s unique gifts, and that satisfies their need for meaning and community. Contact us today about individual leadership coaching or our Teams That Talk™ coaching approach!


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