Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Aligning People or Letting them Align Part IV

Bill Miller and I have been talking about whether it is better to align people or let them align. You can read the other three parts here, here and here. Its been a great discussion, to make it clearer, I'd like to reframe my response. I always hate it when girlfriends do this to me, so I'm apologizing up front. [Editor: No need to apologize, I've been suggesting girls do that to you for years and it's benefited me tremendously.]

A little background on business
To get some insight to this, let's think about why businesses were really founded. The modern corporation came into being in Britain in the early seventeenth century, when some very intelligent and presumably humble nobleman noticed that there’s no correlation between intelligence and wealth. In fact, there may even be an inverse correlation, but I’ll resist the urge to rant about Paris Hilton and spare you my other Hilton-esque urges. [Editor: Please do.]

What these noblemen realized was that if they gave up a portion of their capital and entrusted it to an organized group of intelligent, motivated and hungry workers selected from the masses, they could make themselves much wealthier. A side benefit to this was the incredible improvement in the standard of living for those working for them. This is the genesis of the modern corporation.

Why is this important? What these noblemen and now women realized was that they had to set up the appropriate structures so the intelligent, motivated and hungry workers had proper direction and incentives to make the business successful and them wealthier.

Project Structures
Should teams self-organize? Absolutely. As a project goes along, the team needs the freedom to realign itself to meet the demands of the project. What an effective manager does is define the structures within which to project will operate to deliver what the business needs. If the project team has the correct direction and incentives, they will align themselves and the project has a better chance of success.

Does this make sense?

Photo Credit: Eric Lafforgue

1 comment:

Bill Miller said...

Andy,

This makes a lot of sense. There is a necessary and important role for management that sometimes gets ignored in the discussion.