Decentralized Organizations: Do They Work?
As technology has increasingly created a number of self-organizing online or real communities, companies are also experimenting with cultural changes having a common thread of decentralization. For example, anonymous surveys, voting systems for both customers and internal employees, organic management, and peer-based recognition systems are becoming more commonly used. Firms like Burning Man, Second Life, and Zappos are exploring and using non-traditional techniques to structure their organization and develop their people. What are these alternative strategies and why are companies using them? What’s worked and what hasn’t? We’ll show you specific ways to start experimenting with decentralization at your company, with questions and discussion amongst a diverse group of experienced panelists.
James R. Taylor
James is responsible for the development, delivery, and assessment of Corporate-wide training programs, from Executive to Staff development at Amgen, Inc. He provides support for the Talent Management Process, leading Team based interventions and staff engagement efforts. James is also a member of Harvard Business Publishing’s Partners’ Advisory Council and the Conference Board.
Prior to working with Amgen, James held a variety of increasingly more responsible human resource roles with the State of Michigan, General Mills, Taco Bell, Magenic Technologies, and most recently was the Vice President of HR at Primedia Workplace Learning. He also served as a Senior Consultant with Novations Group, consulting with a number of leading organizations including the United Nations, Nabisco, Exxon and Motorola. James holds a Bachelor's and MBA from Michigan State University.
Kat Steinmetz currently manages Burning Man’s Human Resources and Administrative departments and is a member of its Executive Committee. Her expertise lies in working with non-profits and creative companies and she has over 15 years of experience in human resources and organizational development. Kat received a BA in Social Sciences from Washington State University.
First computer was a Timex-Sinclair 1000. Started first software company at age 16, creating database systems on networked PC's for small businesses. In 1995, created internet videoconferencing software FreeVue and sold company to RealNetworks in beginning of 1996. After 3 years as VP and CTO at Real, left in 1999 to pursue dream of creating open-ended internet-connected virtual world, founding Linden Lab and creating Second Life. Created LoveMachine in early 2010 with co-founder Ryan Downe to pursue several new experiments in distributed work and computing. Currently working on Coffee & Power and Worklist.net. BS in Physics from UCSD.
Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. He was also the founder and director of the MIT Center for Coordination Science and one of the two founding co-directors of the MIT Initiative on "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century". Professor Malone teaches classes on organizational design, information technology, and leadership, and his research focuses on how new organizations can be designed to take advantage of the possibilities provided by information technology.
The past two decades of his research are summarized in his critically acclaimed book, THE FUTURE OF WORK (Harvard Business School Press, 2004). Professor Malone has also published over 75 articles, research papers, and book chapters; he is an inventor with 11 patents; and he is the co-editor of three books.
Malone has been a cofounder of three software companies and has consulted and served as a board member for a number of other organizations. His background includes work as a research scientist at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and degrees in applied mathematics, engineering, and psychology.
campus/urban/startup development at zappos.com & downtownproject.com. no title at both.