Free Flow Management

We all want freedom. Organizations often constrain freedom, to their peril. Some would argue that structure is necessary to organize work and people and you have to live with it, even an overabundance of it. I think that freedom and structure can coexist. Have you heard of the organizational theory of chaordic organizations, developed by Dee Hock former founder and CEO of VISA?  The theory posits that chaos and order can coexist harmoniously, displaying characteristics of both, with neither chaotic nor ordered behavior dominating. To create free flow management, freedom and structure must coexist, with neither dominating.

Why is free flow management a good thing? Freedom creates an environment of innovation and flow of ideas. Constraint caused by too much structure, inhibits performance, often negatively affecting morale as well. An overabundance of structure and requirements limits opportunities for creative thinking and takes up time that can be better spent. A balance of freedom and structure creates an environment where people can thrive, bringing their individual creativity into their work and organizations have what they need to function well.

Do you see the possibility of free flow management of your team? Here are some questions to help you assess this possibility.

• What constraints currently exist on your and your team’s freedom to perform at your highest level?

• Within the context of your organization’s structure, where are there possibilities to create open space and flexibility?

• How will your individual team members respond to having more freedom? Can they thrive in it or do they need more structure than freedom in their work environment?

• How can a better balance between freedom and structure elevate your team’s performance?

If you would like to go further after answering these questions, create some short-term opportunities to increase your team’s freedom. Then assess the results. Examples may be: asking team members to each propose one idea that will increase the team’s freedom and result in higher performance levels; create periodic “open space’ opportunities where each team member can pull away from their everyday work and explore better ways of doing things; identify structures your team can do without and eliminate them or if that is not possible, make them more efficient.

“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” – Albert Einstein