Its one of the basic assumptions most of us have about work – that we need managers and bosses to make sure everyone does their job, to figure out who does what and when, and to coordinate everyone. The feeling is that if we don’t have a boss we will goof off, that if we don’t have a head to project manage, then it will be a chaotic mess.
But there is arising now in the workplace many examples to show that this seemingly basic assumption is not necessarily one we need to make. There are companies and organizations where the people decide themselves what they want to do. Gore, a company that makes spandex, for instance does not have managers tell people what projects they should work on. Instead people can suggest projects, and also join projects that interest them. Studies have shown that Gore workers are happier, and that the company does better than similar companies who use more normal management methods.
Agile Scrum project management is a process where a list is made of what needs to be done, and people figure out for themselves what to do. Projects are organized in terms of sprints, where a list of things needed to be done by a certain time is made, and everyone self-organizes to do so. Then when that sprint is done, a new sprint is organized with a new list of needs. Over time the teams get better and better at self-organizing, anticipating each other, and figuring out how to help each other.
At festivals like the Rainbow gathering which are free, where people bring food to share with everyone, and where people pitch in to help where they can, there is no often no sign of bosses. Instead what happens is someone may carry around a sign saying they need help cooking at that moment, and someone walking around the festival then dives in and helps out.