Enabling Self-Organizing: The Power of a Collaborative Operating System

The complexities of our world and workplaces are growing by the day. We all face unprecedented challenges at an increasing pace, such as the rapid change in funding priorities or the rise of a market-disrupting competitor. Without the right leadership skills and team processes, even capable and talented leaders with the best intentions can end up lost in dysfunction that overshadows their shared purpose.

All organizations have their own ‘operating systems’ for communication, but they often are not consciously designed to maximize productivity, collaboration, and innovation. Communication operating systems that aren’t designed to enable self-organizing to thrive can be inconsistent and lead to teams that are fractured and inefficient. This can leave team members disempowered and cause frustrating bottlenecks.

Popular history records humans have largely lead and managed through top-down command and control. In addition to the humanitarian issues associated with such practices, top-down approaches are unable to respond effectively to the increasingly complex and rapidly changing environments we exist in today. In today’s markets, once an organization finds itself in a position where there is no single answer for how to succeed, there is a strong need to be able to develop different strategies, test them with agility, and be able to change direction rapidly as new information comes in. A top-down or hierarchical approach is functionally challenged to do this and loses its competitive edge. Effective self-organizing enables us to listen and respond to changing client needs and market conditions rapidly.

In addition, a growing body of research (Legal Research Network, 2016) is showing that organizations get better productivity and performance from individuals who participate in the decisions that impact their work, and those individuals are happier, more productive, and tend to be more loyal to their organizations.

So how does self-organizing solve these problems? First of all, we define self-organizing as “the ability of a team or organization to lead and manage itself including making decisions about their scope of work and coordinating with other teams to deliver on the overall purpose of the organization.” Self-organizing does not mean every individual or team gets to do just whatever it wants to do however they or the team want to do it! Self-organizing means we have both the authority and the accountability (the power) to act within those boundaries to do the best job we can possibly do. We do have the autonomy to do what we think is best (not just whatever we want to do when we want to do it) in order to deliver on the roles and within the scopes that we are a part of.

We at Round Sky Solutions have been researching and developing our understanding of all of these issues and continue to research further solutions to these problems that are foundational to our to work together. Collab™ was built to provide a practical solution to these challenges through integrating multiple highly successful theories and methodologies on leadership and management into one communication operating system that enables the sort of effective self-organizing we all need throughout an organization. You can find some free resources on self-organized teams and leadership here.

We researched, built and tested Collab™ to foster highly effective self-organizing as an organization’s leadership and management system. We also hypothesize that the power of highly successful collaborative systems like Collab™ can build our ability to respond to worldwide problems. We believe that unskillful use and distribution of power is what primarily lies at the heart of our many global crises. From wealth inequality to racial injustice to climate change, our collective lack of traction in responding to these issues has a common theme: power. That’s why Collab™ focuses on what power is, how it’s used, and how it can be distributed to create better organizations building a better world for us all.

For more on Collab go here.

And if you are curious about the essentials of shared leadership, come check out our online course, Collab 101.