Decentralize Everything

A useful insight from Brian Elliott, who heads up the Future Forum, a consortium launched by Slack focused on reimagining work:

A company that aspires to create a successful hybrid working model must have a distributed executive team. If you’re heavily concentrated in a specific geography, encourage migration out, promote remote, and hire outside of your headquarters city.

Of course, this presupposes a company transitioning to decentralized work.

I wrote at some length about the needed transition of leadership in On Emergent Leadership:

The emergent organization, one with three tiers (concentric layers) of leadership. And the executives need to be guided into the new roles that will play in the emergent organization, particularly the architecting leaders, who have to be the driving force behind the transition to emergence [across the company].

Senior executives need to transition to ‘architecting leaders’ that weave together what’s going on in the world and their markets with what’s percolating within the company. As researcher Kate Isaacs put it,

One of their functions is to, I would say, knit together the emergent product ideas and new innovative ideas into a coherent organizational strategy. And the architecting leaders have to be good “sense makers” to use a term that [fellow researcher] Deborah [Ancora] has been developing for a long time, in that the people who are at a more senior level have their eye on global trends, market trends, technological trends, they’re talking with other senior leaders, economic trends.

These aren’t things that maybe everybody in the organization are paying attention to, and so they’re taking all of that information about what the competition is doing, et cetera. That information resides in their heads and then they’re watching all the innovative ideas that are bubbling up throughout the organization and they’re knitting all that together into an, it’s really an emergent, strategic process.

Elliott is suggesting that architecting leaders need to help build a company geared to a decentralized model of work, and one of the critical elements is to decentralize the cadre of corporate architects so they can internalize that new way of work, and others will be able to pattern themselves on that new model.

Are you seeing this change in your work?