Cocoon Projects
Jul 21 · 5 min read

You might have heard of a new breed of organisational models, responding to the fast growing adaptability, engagement and collaboration needs within modern company structures. Or you might have simply experienced the sound problems of slowness, rigidity, bureaucracy, disengagement along with various kinds of waste and bottlenecks that “traditional” organisational models generate and suffer nowadays.

This is what LiquidO™ is all about: the original “liquid organisation” model for governance, born from direct experience within Cocoon Projects and in use in a growing number of for profit and not-for-profit organisations willing to get liquid.

Liquefying an organization means disrupting the industrial-age driven assumptions on which rigid structures are designed and move on to make it adaptive, dynamic and anti-fragile. Based on lean management and open collaboration principles, the LiquidO™ model is fluid, meritocratic and value-driven, enabling stigmergic behaviour and "organic" effectiveness.

How it works

Our liquid organization model can be implemented embracing some basic principles and putting them in action with the right enabling platform of tools and processes.

In the LiquidO™ model there is just one organisational level: Membership.

All members are equal, nobody is the boss of anybody else, there are no job titles: just people with their competences. Everybody can decide in real time which activities and decisions to take part to, choosing the challenges and problems where to be potentially most useful. Credit will be awarded by peers after results are reached, and reputation will be built upon the dynamics that every member chooses and expresses for herself. With credit comes compensation and decisional power, and the loop is continuously renewed.

Moreover, being based on Lean Management and Open Collaboration principles, the LiquidO™ model assumes that waste elimination can be radically embraced, removing everything that is not contributing to the creation of value towards the company's goals, that of course includes the company's health itself. For example, the most efficient (and effective) way to verify anybody's fit within the governance of an organization, is letting them immediately in and let them work just like all the regular members but in a "safe zone", and see if they fit-in. We call this zone Contributorship.

The LiquidO™ model also includes some rhythmic rituals to keep people aligned within the governance of the whole organisation. These are timeboxed, inclusive, live and/or online meetings that happen regularly, and which usually anybody can join freely. It is very important to foresee and define these alignment events given the absence of anybody with a functional responsibility of watching out for specific problems and opportunities, therefore requiring the right context for having them emerge from the people and being inserted in the governance platform.

Why you would want it in your organisation

Rigidly structured organizations cannot cope with the current pace of innovation and its complexity, let alone exploit it. We need a completely different mindset and consequently new models. And we need them to be simple and people-centric.

This is exactly why LiquidO™ was born.

1. Real-time adaptability.

The industrial age organisational approach, where each area is defined as a restricted group of activities coherent to one another, has its biggest limitations in the risk to fall in fragmented, sealed administration and culture. As the company grows, so grows the complex ramification, branching and costs of these models. Lack of communication, heavy bureaucracy, disastrous efficiency.

The completely different perspective realized by LiquidO™, in fact relying on people and competences without fixed roles, provides an integrated and adaptive business management scenario shifted to a systemic approach, pragmatically meritocratic and inherently capable of real time adaptability to any context. It’s just like water, some would say.

2. Better and faster information processing.

Hierarchies are a sound bottleneck both for decision making and competences evolution. Too many info to process in order to succeed. Moreover, on the other hand, the distance between where and how in the organization strategies are created, and where and how they have to be executed too often creates waste, lack of effectiveness or even complete failure.

Non-peer evaluation, silos and recruiting inefficiency are additional heavy side-defects of an organizational design philosophy based on the two illusions of control and predictability, and therefore actualized with structural divisions between thinking and doing.

LiquidO™ is a viable and operational way to let all the brilliant people in the company effectively emerge. Anybody can join each wave, surf it and enrich it, so to say. And leveraging different viewpoints, backgrounds and competences today is definitely critical to succeed in taking better and faster decisions.

3. Engagement and spontaneous leadership.

People are key in this picture. In fact, within LiquidO™ everyone can decide whether to join a process or not, try, and consequently determine her level by fast feedback loops from frequent and specific peer-reviews driven by the actual delivered value.

Besides a natural engagement due to continuous feedback and consequently improving results, within this scenario it’s really difficult to deny emerging problems. Within the old way of thinking the organizations very often conflicts, work overload, sense of impotence, lack of decision power, absence of endorsement, unfair treatment and misalignments are among the real causes of failures.

There is much more that can be done today, if only we let go of control, predictability and rigidity. LiquidO™ moves structures, processes and the organization itself away from the center, where it is assumed that people have to adapt to them, instead shifting the focus on people and truly empowering them to dynamically find their maximum value creation spot within the organization, expressing leadership effectively and without fear, naturally growing and being rewarded for this.

How to dive into LiquidO™

The liquid organisation model can be implemented embracing some basic principles and putting them in action with the right enabling platform of tools and processes.

Download the white paper. Learn more about LiquidO™ and let us know what you think.

Or contact us for more information and support!

Cocoon Pro

Evolution at work

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade