Self-Organization, Self-Management and Decision Rights

Any discussion about self-organizing teams is actually a discussion about how teams make decisions. The first assumption here is that the limits and scope of the team’s decision-making authority is clearly specified by upper management. The second assumption is that these limits are understood, agreed-upon and adhered-to by the team in question.

In this context, “self-organization” is actually referring to a group’s self-management of the specific decisions that it is formally authorized to make.

So, don’t be misled: when you hear “self organization” in a business context, what’s really being discussed is how teams are self-managing their authorized decision rights. And the decision-making process itself.

For any of this to work, the limits on the scope of those decision rights must first be clearly specified and then formally conferred to the team by upper management.

Mezick’s 3rd Law of Culture:

Everyone, with few exceptions: wants (and will accept) a coherent story.

Even when that story is B-S.

Example: well-meaning executives incorrectly assume that forcing change can work long-term (this is mostly because the ‘agile institutions’ and ‘agile thought leaders’ have not warned them otherwise.)

The result is that consulting firms tell a coherent yet false story about how “big-bang” “transformation” can work…at cost of millions of dollars in “big bang transformation” consulting and training fees.

In other words: that story is B-S, but coherent. It is a story executives already believe. A coherent narrative yet, one that is completely false. But everyone wants a coherent story.

In this manner, coherence trumps the truth.

End of story

Everyone, with few exceptions: wants (and will accept) a coherent story.

(This law has wide-scope applications)