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Davor Milicevic

Interesting metaphor, but working in a team requires everyone to participate. One person is driving the team but others are contributing "gas". No one wants to be a babysitter and it is expected that leader be the one making all the important stops and turns. Control comes not only from leaders’ competence, but also from competent members of the team. In case leader is not present the team needs to function well. It is very similar to sports as you can’t rely only on captain; team has to work as well without one.

Corrie Block

In the West, we cram hyper-individualistic people into an organization, and hire consultants to help them play well together. In metanetworks we have the beneficial foundation of shared history and loyalty between the “employees,” and the social responsibility of businesses is not a new idea here. It seems to me that to develop the strategic function of a family-based organization is much simpler work than to convince individualistic board members and management teams that they are a kind of family.

Kelley Eskridge

Bob, thank you! I admire your clarity and your very human take on management/leadership so much, and am honored by your regard.

Humans At Work was an utter failure as a business. But I'm very grateful for all the support the ideas received. And I continue to make the entire program curriculum available free at the website for anyone who might find it useful.

I'm running an editing business now, and it reinforces my belief that the kind of skills you talk about so well in Good Boss, Bad Boss make a difference in any work experience. Creating individual relationships with writers in a focused context, geared toward specific results. Communicating as clearly as I can about what people are doing well, and what they can improve. Offering practical suggestions and resources. Nurturing their style as opposed to imposing mine.

And here we come back to notions of control. I can't just make vague noises about "writing better" and go off to lunch. I'm the editor; the writer expects me to edit. And then the writer decides whether or not she wants to implement my suggestions. The final product is under her control. I don't do her job for her: but without my being willing to say "Do this, not that," she can't do her job as well.

To extend (although, I hope, not torture) the metaphor, I have to put my hands on the wheel, and at the same time always remember that it's her car. Perhaps that's one of the fundamental balancing acts of control.

Thanks again, Bob. I always enjoy the conversations here. Makes me happy to see so many people embracing your work!

Michael Johnson

I agree with Kelley to a certain extent, but I think the metaphor of driving a car has limitations. Research on shared leadership and self-managing work teams suggests that you don't always need a single driver to get stuff done. Teams can function quite well without one person "in control."

This is also evident in Web 2.0 initiatives and open-source software coding. In these kinds of projects, no one is really in control, but ideas are put forth that either catch on with the other users or die a natural death.

I guess I just worry whenever I see comments espousing "control." It is usually a hard transition, but many organizations are finding that the old "command and control" structures are giving way to more decentralized structures.

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