Bayer’s Bold Move: DSO or Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Here we go again.

Let’s kill all the managers.

Anyone remember Holacracy?

Probably not since that went the way of all bad ideas.

By now, you may have heard that Bayer CEO Bill Anderson recently announced that he’s going to blow up the structure of his organization and replace it with DSO, a term which, according to the WSJ, he mapped out on a napkin at a café in San Diego with a McKinsey consultant who is now a full-time collaborator.

DSO stands for Dynamic Shared Ownership, or Dumb Stupid Organization, if you ask me. But I’ll let you decide.

Let’s be clear here. Just because a McKinsey consultant tells you your idea is great doesn’t mean your idea is excellent.

I’m all for simplifying decision-making processes in organizations. That makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is killing off a bunch of managers without streamlining your processes first.

The Game of Chutes and Ladders

So, here’s the scoop on Bayer’s “fresh” approach: They’re shaking up the game by shifting employees into small, tight-knit teams where they pretty much call the shots. Each team dives into a new project for 90 days, then regroups for the next challenge.

To knock out those corporate ladders, Bayer’s shuffling around tons of leaders. Some are becoming solo contributors, while others are moving on. The ones sticking around will have bigger teams to manage, like up to 20 people, instead of just a handful.

You still following this?

But hey, they’re not alone in this. They’ll be teaming up with AI to handle some tasks, like the snooze-worthy expense reports. Plus, they’ll be right in the trenches alongside their team members, getting hands-on with those small-group projects.

If you’ve ever managed more than 10 people directly, you know firsthand how tough it can be to manage a big team. Now double that number. It’s a good thing Bayer is in the aspirin business, as I expect this move will result in massive headaches and chaos.

Online retailer Zappos tried a decentralized no-bosses system that ended up creating its own form of bureaucracy which was named Holacracy. The movement lasted only a short time.

Does anyone want to bet that DSO will be kaput a year from now and that the CEO will no longer be in place a year from now?

How Bayer Can Manage Their Way Out of This Crisis

Bayer is in a financial crisis. What’s needed is quick, clear decision-making, not group thinking.

Leaders should be given the authority to lead and make decisions without going through tons of red tape to get their decisions approved. These same leaders should be held accountable for the choices they make (both good and bad.)

Bill Anderson needs to surround himself with people who aren’t afraid to tell him that an idea of his is wrong. Management is not rocket science, but it does require some common sense.

Agree or disagree with Anderson’s approach to management?

Share your comments below.

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