How to add management without the overhead

I'm an anarchist. I don't believe in being ruled from the top, or the middle. Or anywhere, really.

I don't believe in free-for-alls either. Chaos, in business, is not usually productive.

The point about a business - any kind of enterprise - is that once it gets beyond the person who started it, it's a collaboration.

It has to be, even if you have no employees, because it's very rare to be able to do everything that's needed to achieve your vision entirely on your own.

And since it is a collaboration, the work of the collaboration needs to be directed. Towards the aims of the enterprise.

Our usual approach for providing this direction is to have someone tell you what to do, when to do it, and how. Initially that 'someone' is the founder, 'the boss'. Or their stand-in, the supervisor or manager.

But supervisors and managers add overheads. Financial overhead - salary that does not result directly in production, and communication overhead - reporting up and down that interferes with production.

Another approach is self-management, usually of teams. This is better, but this too adds overhead. It's just that the reporting and discussion happens horizontally rather than vertically, and so is more enjoyable.

There's another flaw with both of these approaches. In both, 'management' happens inside people's heads. If a manager or team member leaves, you have to start again with a different head, with different ideas of how to do things. That may or may not align with the business aims.

I think there is a better place to put management, and that's into the business. On purpose, as part of it's design.

Any enterprise is a system for making and keeping promises. Your promise is unique to your enterprise. The way you make it is unique to your enterprise. The way you keep it is unique to your enterprise.

Management is about making sure your promises are made and then kept for the right people, at the right price to be able to do more of it, while constantly assessing how effectively and efficiently that is working so you can as constantly improve the system.

If you write down how that system works as a set of high-level, end-to-end processes, you can give people direct responsibility for running processes, not other people. You can collect data for assessing efficiency and effectiveness as a side effect instead of having to interrupt production to collect it. You can build collaboration into the processes instead of adding it on as an overhead. You can automate drudgery and free people to be people.

Best of all, you create a permanent, yet ever-improving 'memory' of what your business is here to do and how it does it, that makes it much easier for new joiners to become productive and easier to scale your business, without clogging up the works, or worse, losing its unique identity.

Yes, there's a cost to doing this, but it's less than the average manager's yearly salary, and it's far outweighed by the speed, efficiency, and increased effectiveness you gain later.

Discipline really does makes Daring possible.

Ask me how.