Liberated Companies

Liberated Organizations are Agile Organizations. However, Agile principles are often co-opted and perverted by the hierarchy. Adopting Agile practices without the mindset often feels like pure gimmickry.

Liberated Companies seek to overcome this, by focusing on the entire organisational level and proposing an approach to manage the complexity of more self-managed organisations – be that teams or whole companies.

Underlying this model is the thinking that companies can be evolved, work design by work design. Both in small steps via this or that low maturity, low severity practice, but in large revolutionary steps, too. After all, large steps need preparation. It is often necessary to work the organization and oneself into new mindsets.

Check out these posts for more info on the transformation path: Let a Thousand Nerds Blossom! and 4 Steps to Release the Full Potential of Organizations.

Which Companies are liberated?

The best list of liberated companies is maintained and growing by Corporate Rebels: The Bucket List. Those guys have been visiting companies with progressive approaches to management all around the world and are continuing to do so.

Often technology companies are at the forefront of liberated management practices. Such as:

  • AirBnB
  • Google
  • Netflix
  • Microsoft (sic!)
  • Spotify
  • Atlassian

However the poster child for Liberated Management practices are the following:

  • Haier –  (about 60.000 coworkers) the worlds leading manufacturer of household appliances is arguably the most radical and successful inventor of new management practices
  • Buurtzorg –  (about 14.000 coworkers) is the leading provider of ambulant care in the Netherlands
  • Bridgewater (about 3500 coworkers), arguably the world most successful Hedgefund managing billions of assets

Actually, there are a lot more companies that have implemented liberated practices in pockets of their organizations. Even more traditional global giants such as Unilever, Michelin, Daimler, Volkswagen etc. Whats more, even in repressive work regimes, such as at Amazon, there are pockets of liberated management practices (like 2 pizza teams, PR style briefings etc). Employing some “new” management practice somewhere in the organization doesn’t make a company liberated, though. But it does show the benefits of employing these practices.

Some Background

The term Liberated Company has been made popular by Issak Geetz and Brian Carney in their 2016 book “Freedom Inc.” The concept has much in common with Frederic Laloux’s 2014 book “Reinventing Organizations”.

There is no such thing as the Liberated Company. To become a Liberated Company is to develop in certain directions which allow the individual to contribute more for mutual personal and organizational benefit.

The merit of the term Liberated Company is that subsumes all the great social management inventions of practitioners (Agile Software Development, the Self-Management Scene, the Lean Start-up) and modern academic research by organizational psychologists, sociologists, and the odd empirically driven management researcher.