Reinventing Management with True Teamwork

There are three of us. We’ve just started a company together. We did it because we want to fix something that’s been bothering us for years…

All three of us have started companies before, and like this one, they were all software companies. Fortunately, our previous startups all turned into successful businesses. But with growth came hierarchies and managerial frustrations.

Like most modern organizations, a software company is knowledge intensive and consists of highly specialized people who build and sell the company’s products. They are what Peter Drucker called knowledge workers.

Software companies exist in an extremely fast-moving market where innovation and change must be continuous in order to be successful.

When our companies where small startups with a handful of motivated people, we frequently felt both extremely innovative and competitive. But when the headcount passed 150 or 200, something had happened to the previously quick and nimble companies.

Perhaps it’s like this for most companies? After all, more people require more management and more hierarchy.

As impatient entrepreneurs, this seemingly inevitable slowdown was very frustrating. Inability to change and innovate will kill your company — not just software companies, but any company. And no matter where we turned to for help, we only found traditional management methods we felt were obsolete.

Since then we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this challenge, and we’ve reached the perhaps obvious conclusion that skilled, motivated and autonomous knowledge workers are the single most important factor for innovation and competitiveness in the modern organization.

We’ve also concluded that we as leaders in the past have subscribed to the same old-school management practice that is found within most organizations today. A management practice that makes knowledge workers suffocate. We call it Management 1.0 and it is an uninhabitable and demoralizing place for both current and future knowledge workers. It is originally built on a foundation of de-skilling tasks and routinizing work — the very opposite of knowledge work, that by nature is non-routine and requires autonomous collaboration within and between teams of people with specialized knowledge.

We’ve also talked to a lot of people inside seemingly successful companies across most industries. The picture that is emerging is clearly that in a world of accelerating change and increasing competition, organizations are looking for practices and tools for Management 2.0; making the organization inventive and adaptable and its knowledge workers inspired.

As we see it this is the heart of the matter: Traditional management is about controlling the activities of the business. A control that has traditionally been achieved by creating routines and rigid, chain-like workflows. But this is like driving an organization of knowledge workers with the handbrake on. Knowledge workers are specialists who will thrive if they’re given autonomy, and who will be twice as motivated and twice as valuable if they can form communities of passion. Being able to give them exactly that, while maintaining a meaningful ability for managers to control the business is the key.

Our new company is called Conclude.

In Conclude we’re on a mission to give autonomy to knowledge workers without forgoing managers legitimate need for oversight.

Our goal is simple: to give you autonomy by arming you and your team of knowledge workers with an effective software tool for driving the process of concluding on all the stuff that goes on in your everyday work-life. This enables you and your team to use your skills and creativity in an optimal way, improve information sharing and ensure coordination across the organization. Simultaneously it means reinventing the means of control.

We’re currently in pilot with selected users.

Stay tuned for our launch!