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PREFACE - The Bounty Effect

Organizations look much different than they once did. Ties and tobacco are mostly gone from the workplace. So are typewriters and telegrams. Technological advances have enabled enterprises with everything from tweets to telepresence.

Yet the structure of many organizations has barely changed since the Industrial Age.

Command-and-control defined Industrial Age organizational structure, and remnants of this structure remain embedded in organizations. These remnants include everything from organization charts and performance reviews to headquarters and the need to go through channels. In working with organizations to collaborate, I have encountered countless companies and government entities that embrace collaboration as a concept. They adopt the right tools and try to transform organizational culture. But something prevents these often well-intentioned organizations from becoming collaborative.

The pattern I have experienced is that an antiquated organizational structure renders collaboration dead on arrival. Transforming a command-and-control organization into a collaborative enterprise requires redesigning and rebuilding the organization on a foundation of collaboration. In short, shifting the culture requires changing the structure.

It’s no wonder the structure of our institutions—from universities, and government agencies to non-profit organizations and corporations—inhibits collaboration and compromises value. Aside from embracing Industrial Age remnants, our institutions often condition us to hoard information and compete. In high school, we compete for grades, college admissions and financial aid. In college, we compete for academic honors, internships and graduate school admissions. In graduate school, we compete for grants, fellowships and jobs. And the more education we have upon entering the workforce, the more we compete with our colleagues.

To change their structures, organizations often require a do-or-die challenge. And for governments, industries and organizations of all kinds, exigent circumstances including the rapidly-shifting global economy have provided this challenge—and have raised the stakes for survival. A fitting metaphor for this phenomenon is the mutiny that occurred on the Bounty more than two centuries ago. For Lieutenant William Bligh and his loyalists, surviving the stormy seas depended on meeting the challenge by changing the structure and culture from command-and-control to collaborative. Their experience illustrates how exigent circumstances make legacy structures irrelevant and compel the redesigning of organizations to advance collaboration. This is the Bounty Effect.

The previous book in this series, The Culture of Collaboration®, examines the role of culture in collaborating and profiles leading companies, some built on collaborative foundations and others that have developed pockets of collaboration. The next question is how can command-and-control organizations become collaborative? The Bounty Effect answers this question and provides examples of how organizations are adopting elements of collaborative structures. The book also includes accounts of how command-and-control structures have compromised value and how, in some cases, organizations are learning from their mistakes.

The Bounty Effect provides a framework for structural change necessary to transform organizations into collaborative enterprises. Using this framework, you and your colleagues can determine how to design and adopt a collaborative structure that fits your organization.