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The next corporate revolution will be power to the peons

Lucas Mearian | June 5, 2013
'Bureaucracy has to die,' says business consultant at CITE Conference.

Tom Petrocelli, an independent industry analyst, how to best to use technology. Internal social networks, for example, allow lower-level employees to collaborate on innovation. But 40% of knowledge workers never even use them to collaborate because the networks were rolled out without a use case.

"No one went in and said, 'This is the use case where this will help you get this task done.' There's no purpose to it," Petrocelli said. "You need to start small and look for purposeful use cases."

Noted business leadership author Gary Hamel chats with Matt Rosoff from CITEworld about his CITE 2013 keynote, which discussed how companies can get away from bureaucracy and give more power to employees to innovate.

"This is about finding a business solution. It's not about being social," Jones added.

One question corporate leaders should ask themselves, said Jones, is whether they even need management.

Hamel offered several examples of successful companies that eliminated management -- even CEOs -- and replaced the old hierarchy with employees who could set their own goals, design their own jobs, approve their own expenses and even choose their own bosses by committee.

Morning Star, a Sacramento-based a tomato processor, allows its employees to manage themselves, being accountable only to their colleagues.

When employees are hired at Morning Star, they must write their own mission statement describing how they'll create value for the company. Then they sign on to a letter of understanding with other colleagues that spells out for what they'll be responsible.

"This is a company with about 500 people, 22 business units, and there's not a single supervisor, manager, director, vice president - not boss at all. You negotiate this thing with your colleagues," Hamel said.

Employees can even issue their own purchase orders for new equipment.

"There's a lot of competition to take on more responsibility to grow your job and add more value," Hamel said. "So [there are] a lot of opportunities to improve your skills and take on bigger project, but no promotions."

Employees also elect compensation committees that determine how much workers are paid based on their productivity. Committees also determine when an employee should be fired.

Every employee at Morning Star has real-time information about the profitability of their business, and every employee sees the return on the investments that other employees are making. That way, if an investment doesn't make money, other employees will question it -- and the employee who requested it, Hamel said.

About half of all of Morning Star's employees have also been taught accounting and business skills, moving business expertise further down the ranks.

Another example of employee empowerment is HCL Technologies, Hamel said. The IT services and consulting company allowed every worker to choose their own managers, compensation and the ability to initiate a trouble ticket for internal services - such as IT, HR, and legal - that aren't helping them do their jobs.


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