What if you could make significant changes to core processes – resulting in better performance and reduced cost – with staff and partners as the drivers of change? What if you could work in an environment where change is no longer episodic and painful but rather continuous and welcome?

Mary Lee Kennedy and I demonstrate in our HBR article “How Employees Shaped Strategy at the New York Public Library” that it is possible to derisk change efforts and make them the means to organizational revitalization.

Our work shows how organizations can create energized networks of staff and partners that have a laser-like focus on removing business constraints, aren’t hampered by the hierarchy, and scale.

As opposed to strictly hierarchical organizations where only a few participate in formulating change, organizations practicing networked leadership significantly enhance decision-making and innovation by
vastly enriching information flows and making change a joint responsibility.

Why do we like networked leadership? We think it’s the way to go because it:

  • is highly scalable. Networked-based managed conversations can scale to hundreds of thousands.
  • doesn’t require reorganizations. The hierarchy is still used for decision-making.
  • involves little incremental cost. It releases staff and partner energy to achieve organizational goals.

Ultimately, in our experience, the results are greater buy-in and strategic advancement.

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