Mark Pearl


  • Managers should manage via heuristic boundaries not explicit rules (aka command and control)
  • Self organisation and ultimately agility comes from the people doing the work deciding on the practices to achieve it.
  • People accept responsibility more when given problems to solve over solutions to implement.
  • Design against demand, not hierarchy/reporting structures.
  • People are far more likely to honour commitments to their peers than their bosses.
  • Small safe to fail experiments are the best way to deal with complexity - where the answer is not knowable through analysis
  • Retrospectives are the heartbeat of any change initiative.

7 Levers for Influencing Evolution

  1. Selecting External Environment
  2. Defining Performance
  3. Managing Meaning
  4. Choosing People
  5. Reconfiguring the network
  6. Evolving vicarious selection systems
  7. Energizing the system
Selecting External Environment

The company’s approach to innovation
Expectations about multitasking and focus
Culture towards mistakes

Defining Performance

What is the companys policy to performance
Providing Training
Allow employees to explore wild ideas
How are individuals rewarded

Managing Meaning

Leaders can push messages into the system
Leaders can keep messages out of the system
Meaning often comes from the stories, myths and rituals that are repeated
What the leaders do often gives meaning - vice president counting cars in the parking lot

Choosing People

Who is on the team influences how teams self organize?
Should a team have full control over who is on the team? This should be decided by management, but a team should influence the decision.

Team size

Reconfiguring the network

Communication paths (formal and informal) can be more important than individuals
You can introduce or remove flows

Evolving vicarious selection systems

Evolution - Variation, Selection, Retention
Trusting the marketplace can take too long

Energizing the system

Unless energy is pumped into a system, entropy sets in
Make sure the group has a “clear, elevating goal” or an igniting purpose Allow people to attend conferences as rewards
Brown Bags Lean Doughnuts

Authority Matrix

The authority matrix


What are Self Organizing Teams
Philip Anderson, Seven Levers for Guiding the Evolving Enterprise
35 Minutes in Mike Choens NDC2014 Talk

blog comments powered by Disqus

Want to get my personal insights on what I learn as I learn it? Subscribe now!