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InfoQ Homepage News Establishing Autonomy and Responsibility with Networks of Teams

Establishing Autonomy and Responsibility with Networks of Teams


Working in outdated ways causes people to quit their work. Pim de Morree suggests structuring organizations into networks of autonomous teams and creating meaningful work through a clear purpose and direction. According to him, we can work better, be more successful, and have more fun at the same time.

Joost Minnaar and Pim de Morree from Corporate Rebels will speak about unleashing the workplace revolution at Better Ways 2022. This conference will be held in Athens on September 23, 2022.

According to de Morree, the way we currently work is outdated. This is caused by using an outdated idea of how work should be done:

100+ years ago we created structures to manage work in a certain way. That worked really well, but times have changed. However, our way of working has remained largely the same.

While the world is changing at a much faster pace, most organizations continue to rely on bureaucracy, top-down control and predictability. And that’s not working.

As a result, a huge amount of people are disengaged, burned out, or bored out of their mind at work, de Morree argued. It’s not that surprising that people are quitting in droves.

De Morree suggests structuring organizations into networks of teams where teams have skin in the game. Split the organization up into small teams (mostly 10-15 people) that are highly autonomous:

Think of giving teams the power to make decisions around strategy, business models, reward distribution, hiring, firing, and so on. Power to the people, to the teams I should say.

This is not an easy thing to do. But, according to de Morree, if done well it has a huge impact on motivation and success.

Pioneering organizations are changing their way of working. Many are focusing on networks of teams, transparency, distributed decision-making, and supportive leadership, de Morree claimed. They focus on creating meaningful work through a clear purpose and direction. They reduce hierarchy and unleash autonomy. They provide freedom and responsibility while allowing people to work on things they love to do.

The benefits that de Morree has seen include increased engagement, productivity, innovation and reduced sickness, mistakes, and attrition.

InfoQ interviewed Pim de Morree about exploring better ways to work.

InfoQ: What is keeping organizations from changing the way they work?

Pim De Morree: It´s a lack of understanding of how things can be done differently. It’s hard to reimagine things when you’re very much used to doing things a certain way. 99.9% of our education system, our institutions and our businesses are organized in traditional ways and therefore it’s hard to envision a different reality.

However, there are pioneers who are showing that things can look very different. In a very good way.

InfoQ: How can organizations foster freedom and trust, and what benefits can this bring?

De Morree: First of all, it’s important to understand that with freedom comes responsibility. It doesn’t make sense to just give employees freedom. To unleash true motivation, it’s important to also provide lots of responsibility.

Create clarity around the purpose of the organization, the goals of each and every team, the guiding principles to take into account, and the constraints that people have to deal with. If you set the framework properly, it’s much more interesting for teams to self-organize within that framework.

InfoQ: What can be done to establish a culture of radical transparency?

De Morree: As the term suggests, radical transparency is about opening up all kinds of information. Think of creating transparency around the company financials, important documents, team financials, salary levels, and so on. The more information people have about the company, the more they are able to make great decisions. Otherwise, they might have authority to make decisions, but no information to do so properly.

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