Liberated company or lean enterprise ?

While everyone is more or less convinced that the “old” business model has lived, it must be recognized that the new model that could replace it has not yet been found or that we have not been able to make it work in a sustainable way in a significant number of companies. Which is the same, though.

The organization of the future? No single model!

I ended up making a religion for myself on the subject: there is no single model that would work everywhere, let alone a single way to implement it. Only certainty: the leader is the cornerstone of the process

Among the popular concepts about is the “liberated company“. I’m not going to get into the debate on the relevance of the idea: for what I see it is a bit like holacracy: attractive on paper, it raises questions, we have examples of successes, examples of failures and we don’t have enough perspective to know if the successes are sustainable.

But here again, a common factor is that nothing works without an inspired, determined and exemplary leader (as to whether he is visionary… the future will tell us).

To return, precisely, to the role of the leader in the transformation, although I consider it essential in all cases, two hypotheses must be distinguished:


– Change leads to a system that only works as long as you believe in it. We will probably lose people on the way and no matter what rules are put in place, they can explode after the departure of the said manager or after a significant change in governance linked, for example, to a takeover.

– The change leads to the implementation of a self-supporting system. Once the machine is running, it runs until we decide otherwise. It takes a man’s energy to drive change, but then his presence is no longer required to sustain the system.

The liberated company? Why ? What for?

I’m not going to become an expert in free enterprise or holacracy, but let’s have a quick look at two topics :

To what problems are these approaches the answers?

– cumbersome and slow decision-making chains.

– weight of reporting and processes

– disempowerment and under-use of people in the field, their knowledge, expertise, experience.


With what logic?

– Remove unnecessary structure, process and reporting elements.

– By setting up self-control / self-management structures at team level with a lower management weight.

– To give employees the necessary latitude to use their knowledge, skills, judgment…

– And, in doing so, allow them to develop and re-engage.


So if we take a step back:

– Let everyone solve problems and make decisions at their own level, within their own jurisdiction, without unnecessary escalation.

– By eliminating the waste of time, energy, resources and even talent associated with an excessive weight in the organizational structure

The liberated company, an avatar of lean?

I was thinking about this after writing my article on Cécil Dijoux’s book: if we look closely at it, the similarities between Lean and liberated company are quite obvious, the latter having adopted a beautiful humanist marketing in addition.

For those for whom “Lean” is a dirty word, read this old article again. Even if time has passed and today I find it largely imperfect, it seems to me that there are indeed some ingredients and principles of the new forms of organization that many people are calling for.

This raises questions about the level of entanglement between the two concepts?

– Can they be liberated  without being lean? In my opinion, yes, but we’re starting to do a little lean without knowing it.

– Can you be lean without being liberated ? Much less easily except to apply a distorted vision of lean that is limited to the fight against waste and cost-cutting and forgetting the role of the human in the approach.

– Can we wrongly attribute successes to the liberated company that are only due to a lean approach to management and production? I’ll leave you as judges, but it must have happened.

Lean, a more sustainable approach?

A difference, fundamental in my opinion is also that when lean is in place it is anchored in the routine of the company while everything suggests that released company, holacracy and even what was called company 2.0 when it was implemented without an approach by processes rarely survive the inspired leader who set them up.

But if we look closely, many approaches aimed at reinventing organizations, especially in services, follow principles whose success has been proven in the industrial world for more than 30 years.

In a word as in a thousand, give it the name you want but there is still a strong trend that shows that the organization of tomorrow will above all be a lean and simplified organization…perhaps the most difficult thing to do.


Photo : Breaking chains by Gearstd via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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