Becoming self-organized

One of my main research interests at the moment is the question of how companies can become more self-organized and better tap into intrinsic motivation of employees. We have numerous case examples (such as Buurtzorg, a Dutch home care organization) of companies operating in a self-organized way, documented for example by Frederic Laloux in his book “Reinventing Organizations”. However, we lack an empirical and theoretical perspective on how organizations can make the switch from the traditional hierarchical form of organization (think managers, incentives, controlling, function-based organizations and top-down strategy planning) to self-organizing.

I’m currently in the process of finding companies that desire to make the transition and would allow me access to observe the journey. At the moment I have two companies that have fully signed up (in home care and IT services), and a handful of others still considering if they are ready for the ride.

While my end goal is to write a detailed journal article and related practical advice on becoming self-organized, I recently had an interesting discussion with a colleague who recommended  to explicitly write down the starting assumptions and hypotheses, so that I could observe and reflect on how my thinking evolves.

I hope to follow up this post with a more detailed one explaining the assumptions and current thoughts I have on the topic!


Jos de Blok, CEO of Buurtzorg, visiting Helsinki 4.8.2015

I’m happy to announce that together with Ossi Kuittinen and a bunch of other frieds, we have the honor to host a seminar in Helsinki on 4.8.2015 featuring Jos de Blok as the keynote speaker and panelist!

You can find the invite to the event here: Future of Work – Jos de Blok et Buurtzorg 2015-08-04 Helsinki

The event Facebook page is here and the place to get your (free) tickets is here.

Briefly on Buurtzorg: Itis an organization of 9000 nurses (that is about 70% market share in Netherlands) that is entirely based on self-organizing nurse teams with no formal hierarchies and minimal bureaucracy. Its’ remarkable growth (from 4 to 9000 in less than 10 years) was possible as customers loved the customer-centric care model that Buurtzorg uses, and nurses feel they can finally focus on nursing instead of running from home to home to deliver tightly timed “nursing products”. Ernst & Young estimated the Buurtzorg model also saves the Netherlands 2 BEUR every year as it is more efficient and reduced the frequency and duration of hospital visits by over 50%. Read more on the model and the first Finnish pilot here.