I was introduced to the idea of adhocracy by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 publication Future Shock. After completing their bachelors, Mr. Toffler and his wife Heidi moved to the Midwest where both invested five years as blue collar laborers. The futurists used this experience to help them understand industry, from the ground up. They saw first-hand how the speed of change was forcing adaptation. Bureaucracy was the system needed to organize the machine of the industrial revolution, but the world was moving faster; too fast for bureaucratic systems to function properly.

What is Adhocracy?

In the book, he shares this scenario. A machine malfunctions; the operator contacts his supervisor who in turn contacts the head of repair, who then informs the repair person. When the pace of change could be measured in decades—bureaucracy worked. It was a time when employees expected to work 30 years at one company, and managers held enough direct knowledge to make decisions at every level. In an adhocracy, the machine operator contacts the repair person directly saving time and improving communications. Not only does this save time and labor but the message can be communicated more clearly. Today’s bureaucratic structure doesn’t work, at some level, in most organizations. Unlike the plant manager of a manufacturing operation at the turn of the 20th century—today’s CEO isn’t qualified to manage every task in every department. How could one person possess the knowledge to accomplish this? Professionals, such as chemists, computer programmers, and engineers need to work independently or they’ll be perpetually slowed. Modern marketing professionals, social media administrators, and copy writers have a complete grasp of their disciplines compared to the working knowledge of the COO or CEO. So…what’s the C-level staff to do—give up control?

Leadership in the 21st Century

Yes and no. When C-level staff micro-manages activities, processes may be impaired. However, when leadership shares a vision allowing those with direct knowledge to form the process, another level of effectiveness may be realized. It was easy to understand how Toffler’s example of machine repair was inefficient, but managers may not realize they do the same thing when they interfere with processes outside of their expertise.

How to Ad-hoc from the C-level

[checklist icon=”fa-arrow-right” circle=”no” size=”small” class=”” id=””]
[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]As long as procedures and compliances are being followed don’t interfere with the day-to-day processes.[/li_item]

[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]If production and performance goals are being met—stay out of the way.[/li_item]

[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]Give expectations including the end result[/li_item]

[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]Share a vision of the future of the organization[/li_item]

[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]Listen to your team and let them help steer the boat[/li_item]

[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]Be an advocate, ask how you can help and do it[/li_item]

[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]Give recognition and support team morale[/li_item]

[li_item icon=”fa-arrow-right” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=””]Don’t slow the team with unrealistic demands and unneeded requests[/li_item][/checklist]

Most organizational charts are outdated before they’re finalized; people and positions don’t fit into smooth flow charts—there are too many things happening too fast. Ad Hoc leaders keep up with the ever increasing rate of change in today’s business world—do you?

Here’s an example of  Ad Hoc leadership in action from my friend Rocky Walls I believe you can go big an open letter to my team

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