Book review

Unboss: A compendium for future organizations

Unboss is a remarkable book. Lars Kolind, Jacob Bøtter and over 60 contributors created a blueprint for future organizations. Instead of offering bite-sized action-plans like many other books dealing with organizational development Unboss explains underlying principles and reasons why organizations need to change and establishes a solid foundation explaining how to build the next generation of organizations and work for the next generation of workers: those that truly care for meaningful relations, purposeful work and global sustainability.

They don't try to offer a simple change-plan because an unbossed orgnization is so radically different from the orgnizational model that was established over a hundred years ago that any attempt to offer a smooth transition is futile.

This could be the reason why Unboss has not seen much interest since its publiation in 2012, and hard-copies are not easy to aquire. It's a whopping 310 pages and due to it's questionable use of typographic ornaments to highlight certain key phrases it is not an easy read. But believe me, it is worth it.

Its great value lies in finding words for a gut feeling: there is something fundamentally wrong with established industries. Most organizations are running full steam into disasters because they stick to their traditional management models. Recent events like the VW scandal are just the tip of the iceberg. We now see it loosing some chunks. Soon, more and more chunks will break off until suddenly the whole iceberg flips around. Those that are on top now will vanish without knowing what hit them.

In chapters like Unboss communications the book proposes a new way to integrate employees, customers and partners into the dialoge with the customer. Information must flow freely and decisions must be made where they are the most effective not where an artificial hierarchy has appointed the appropriate point of contact. Enabling everybody to hold honest conversations, internally and externally, requires know-how and information to be available to anybody. Most organizations still work with need-to-know models that protect and enable power over others through conceiling and controlling the flow of information. Unbossing the communication means that this power must vanish but this calls for answers to the fears of mid-level managers losing their power; they need new and better ways to get what they truly strive for: the appreciation of their coworkers.

This is the hard part when changing organizations. It can't be answered in a book. The What is up to you!