Leading and managing the MOE

This is my fourth and final post on Arthur Yeung and Dave Ulrich’s new book, Reinventing the Organization. I’ve already dealt with Dave’s new organisational logic, the features of a Market Oriented Ecosystem (MOE) and the process for creating a MOE. The rest of the book deals with the consequences of choosing a MOE option.

The HR aspects of the model are dealt with by the book under the governance heading. Personally, I think these aspects provide more than just governance of the structure – many of them are actually a central part of the organisation form. Culture, in particular, is a key aspect of the ecosystem platform.

Arthur and Dave suggest HR activities will need to be tailored to a MOE and I agree. I actually think that we may need to do more tailoring than he or the case studies suggest. Eg Supercell is heavily focused on teams but they still believe “that one exceptional person equals a hundred ordinary people”. Perhaps it depends on what they mean by exceptional, but they certainly would benefit from recruiting people who can fit well within their teams (which many individualistic superstars often struggle to do). I make more suggestions about this in The Social Organization (TSO).

I’d also have liked to read more about the complexities involved in designing a non-MOE / more distributed ecosystem. These include, for example, how to bring partners with different capabilities together to support the overall capabilities of the ecosystem, and how to handle organisations with different cultures. However, in a MOE these difficulties are largely stripped out by the platform.

There are also some good suggestions on leadership, eg I agree that leadership in an ecosystem needs to be much more distributed than in a traditional organisation. But it’s interesting that they single out Lee Kuan Yew as a leader who ensures accountability. And I can see that this type of authoritarian leader might work well in a centralised MOE. Other more distributed ecosystems will need leaders who are much more consultative and democratic than this.

I also think Arthur and Dave begin an interesting point when they suggest that different types of leaders are required by the platform from the cells. Actually, for me, this is about the network and the cells – the platform needs designing and maintaining, but not leading, as opposed to the people and the network between the people which exists on or uses the platform.

And I think in many MOEs and other ecosystems and organisations, we’re going to need even more different types of leaders, including of networks and cells / horizontal teams, and also of communities and as is most commonly the case currently, of individuals working within functions. However, I do disagree that this should have anything to do with age.

I also think that in many cases, it’s going to be the same people working in various combinations of these different roles. So it may be that they are staffed by different people, but it may also be that the same people need to act differently in different capacities, eg when leading horizontal teams as opposed to when they’re leading communities.

Eg one of my recent posts discussed the challenges faced by people moving between project management and project member positions. I think if we’re asking people to shift between team leadership, network leadership, partner leadership and other roles the challenges are going to be much bigger than this.

I may focus on this agenda in my next book…

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I graduated from Imperial College, London in 1987 and joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as a systems development consultant. After ten years in IT, change and then HR consulting, I joined Ernst & Young as an HR Director, working firstly in the UK, and then, based in Moscow, covering the former USSR.More recently, I have worked as Head of HR Consulting for Penna and Director of Human Capital Consulting for Buck Consultants (the HR consultancy owned by ACS).

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