From Employees to Self-Managers: Morningstar’s Worldview

In 1990, tomato manufacturing company MorningStar began with a radically different way of managing; employees shifted to self-managers. Morning Star’s people adopted an entrepreneurial mindset – essential in today’s workplace revolution. Doug Kirkpatrick was part of the founding team. Since 2008 he’s been championing self-management world-wide through the Morning Star’s Self-Management Institute.

The movement toward self-management is growing fast. The imperative is pushing reconnection to intrinsically inspired initiative, sense of control,  purpose-driven actions and (in the language of game science) a challenge mindset (versus threat).

I just interviewed Doug for an upcoming episode of the Insight to Action podcast – stay tuned – after a conversation we had on the previous podcast – The Evolutionary Provocateur.

Here’s his TED talk. What principles do you resonate with? What about treating work as a game? Is that appealing? Do you wake up excited to go to work?

The Move Toward Self-Management

If you have been listening to my podcasts, you know that the self-management institute is not alone. Liberating leadership with Isaac Getz, Freedom-centric companies with Traci Fenton, LiquidO with Stelio Verzera plus network of management innovators are profiled.

I was introduced to Holacracy in 2012, when attending the Stoos Stampede on management innovation in Amsterdam. Since then, holacracy as a governance process gained notoriety through Zappos. The idea of boss-less companies, freaked mainstream media out, not to mention some executives, but inside Zappos customizing holacracy to align with cultural values was underway. Elsewhere in the world, of the hundreds of companies that adopted holacracy, the need to adjust the back-end became clear; something Tom Thomison responded to through encode.org.

Designing human-centered companies requires a shift in language from seeing employees as incapable of making decisions they were hired to make but fully capable when making personal life-changing decisions. Doug points that out in the upcoming podcast. So a new language; a different way of perceiving people offers companies a way to step into the change with a positive focus.

The shift from seeing employees as self-managers implies restoring freedom and autonomy to workplace decisions and interactions. It renders threats like ‘robots will take my jobs’ to a challenge to adapt, dig deeper and creatively respond.

Where do you see the future of work heading? Are you prepared to chart your destiny?

Contact Dawna for decision-making or evolving leadership skills and mindset to keep pace with complexity. Its a better way of  not making the mistake of confusing what worked in the past with what is essential today. 

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