Most Companies Are Managing The Wrong Thing

Management is a very popular concept in today’s working world. There are many books written on management. People attend management seminars. Off-site meetups are billed as management retreats.

Slaves Being Managed

But, what is being managed?


In most companies today, people are being managed.

Countless amounts of time, money and effort are spent in managing people.

This is a very backwards approach to work.

In the popular modern paradigm, people are assembled to come together and work in the same building, sitting next to each other, reporting on their progress, and allegedly working on something of value.

There are a lot of antiquated views that are implicitly present in this paradigm:

  • People don’t naturally want to create things of value
  • If you can’t watch someone work, they won’t be productive
  • If people aren’t spending most of their time communicating, then they aren’t creating value
  • If you don’t have a progress report, then no meaningful work occurred

Perhaps before the information age, this paradigm made sense.

But now, we know more a lot more about the way people actually work.

The truth is:

  • People inherently want to create things of value
  • People work best when they are intrinsically motivated
  • Energy spent on communicating and energy spent creating are mutually exclusive
  • The best demonstration of progress is a functional, usuable, visible project

What does this mean about management?

That what should be managed is not the people, but the work.

People are naturally motivated to create things they are proud of. They are naturally motivated to earn the money they need to thrive in life and provide for their families. They don’t need to be managed.

The work should be managed so that people can be empowered.

Why does work need to be managed?

The goal is often unclear.

Well-managed work makes it easy for people to answer these questions:

  • What are we trying to create?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • How valuable is this piece of work?
  • Who is already working on this part of the problem?
  • How much work is needed before this project is minimally viable?
  • In what order do these tasks need to be carried out?
  • Which parts of this project are insufficiently documented?
  • Which aspect of quality are the most important for this project?

A company’s attitude on management serves as an effective indicator for revealing how evolved they are.

If they are managing people, they are a company running on antiquated ideas. You are sure to see unhappy people who are being held back from utilizing their full potential.

If they are managing work, they are a human-friendly company properly using what we know about the nature of human motivation and fulfillment. You are sure to see happy people accomplishing things they are passionate about, and being rewarded for it.

Zerocracy is an approach to software development that is solely built to effectively manage the work. There are no directors, managers, supervisors, or team leads.

What is managed is the work.

People are free to work on the project, and get automatically paid for ther contributions.

People are paid for opening new tickets and helping manage the work by envisioning what the project really needs, or by finding bugs in the current project.

Zerocracy is a company that is correctly focused on solving the hard problem of managing the work, instead of the wasteful black hole of trying to manage people.

It is our mission that other companies will also adopt this modern approach to work, and capitalize on the natural motivations and propensities of people by empowering them, instead of counterproductively trying to manage them.