By Sebastian Thielke Jun 8, 2015

Translation of the Original Article by Sebastian Thielke

We all feel that something is changing. The employees that network within the company and perceive the cooperation as free and above all efficient part of the daily work. The organization, because it becomes more agile, innovative and above all more flexible in their processes and projects. And - last but not least - it is the management that has to face the new challenges. Does this mean that radically all Managers are no longer managers, that the corporate governance hands over its leadership and leaves it to EVERYONE? No, it means above all to break free from the outdated principles through the new possibilities.

How Leadership changes in steps via Networks

The challenges Leadership, management and the organization itself are facing, are actually the good old-fashioned ways of thinking and principles. In a networked company, the securing of knowledge is no longer a power base, but the Empowering of this knowledge is considered part of the value of the company. It needs to be made to flow both inside and outside the company.


Step 1

As a first step management and leadership must understand in this rethinking that knowledge cannot be documented in silos, files and wikis. The knowledge exists in the experiences, in communication and exchange of knowledge carriers - the employees. Therefore, managers and leaders must empower their employees to share this knowledge to divulge it and above all to show them that this sharing is wanted and desired.

Step 2

The second radical step is that management must also flow and become liquid. If employees are empowered to share, to work together and especially to act self-guided, the role of management in this environment becomes fluid, which aligns with the focus, according to the focus of the task, project or challenge of the corresponding Community. The management and the collective operations organize themselves along the communities and are continuously put together or organized anew. Does this mean that managers are redundant? No, but they become part of the added value again and are no longer the special and supervisory body that they were in recent years.


Step 3

The third step is not particularly radical but it moves the company management back to its roots - Corporate Development, Forward Thinking and Innovation. The corporate management is enabled by the networked employees and the liquid management to develop the company and to challenge the business model repeatedly or even to question it.

Revolution Zappos

Of course, the networked company may also be conceived much more radical and further. The current example of Zappos is for this again a good basis in order to show that change is always equivalent to a revolution. Changes need to be part of the company and especially the company's management has to be one hundred percent behind it and move the change along. Change Management has no success in this context if it fails to anchor down the changes.

Bye bye, Boss! At Zappos


Keine Stellenbezeichnungen, keine Manager und keine Hierarchie mehr. Nicht allzu viele Unternehmen werden Zappos dabei folgen, eine Netzwerkorganisation radikal zu Ende zu führen. Das müssen sie auch nicht. Was man aber von Zappos lernen kann ist, dass die Übertragung von Kompetenzen auf die Mitarbeiter Folgen für den „Bauplan“ der Organisation haben muss. Oder es wird nicht funktionieren. Bei Zappos führt die Transformation zu einem völlig neuen Modell von Mitarbeiterführung. Genauer eigentlich zu einer „Selbstführung“ im Rahmen der jeweiligen Communities des Netzwerks. Dass dies funktionieren kann, das haben bereits ähnlich organisierte Firmen vorher zeigen können. Gleichwohl ist eine solche Organisation nicht führungslos oder ohne Hierarchie. Sie ist nur sehr anders aufgebaut. Dynamisch, flexibel und vor allem nicht fest gebunden an Funktionen, Personen und Organisationsformen.


The fragile System of Change

What is currently making the rounds repeatedly at Zappos, is the fact that nearly 250 employees have left the company because they have felt the system of Holocracy not to be correct for them. If you look at it that way, then Zappos is actually at the most difficult point of change: Persevere and anchor down the change. Criticism and doom or not, with their approach Zappos goes a new, radical and revolutionary way in management and in the organization. Such a way of breaking through the normal, always leaves people and familiar things behind. The management and leadership Zappos aims to achieve through networking and through its new organizing principle, is new and must prove itself through trials and errors. Nobody says that it is perfect. It has to evolve.

It is the same with the leadership and the organization in a networked company - it has to evolve. We cannot take the blueprint of Zappos and to impose it on any company. Rather, it is the approach and the daring, which should serve as a model. Everything else each company has to develop within and of themselves as well as try.


Let go and Manage

What can the management and corporate governance now do in the transformation of the networked enterprise?

·        Seeing an opportunity in the networked company without thinking about their own benefit

·        Leading people and employees based on knowledge, openness and participation

·        Viewing knowledge as a growing and liquid value of the company, and enabling it

·        Living Leadership as direction and by example

·        Repeatedly challenging and rethinking their own business model and all processes, methods and areas

After all, the transformation of the company to a networked organization is just another step in the constant reshaping of the company itself. If there is no more change, the company is at a standstill and no longer conducts itself in a business sense.

Here you find tips to Leadership practice.

Here is the previous article, and here is the following article. 

About the author

Sebastian Thielke Consultant Digital Transformation
Social Business and Enterprise 2.0 - Strategy Development, Enablement, Communications and Value added with the main focus on: People form the company.

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