A coal mine isn’t the kind of place that springs immediately to mind when you think of innovative, even revolutionary forms of management, but as the Corporate Rebels shared today, that’s exactly what Eric Trist found at Haighmoor Colliery, way back in the 1940s.
The article is well worth a read, but what really resonated for me were these highlights:
“Miners were recognised for ‘cycle completion’: meaning being jointly responsible for the whole extraction process.”
“The miners not only ran the mining job. They also took care of selling the coal they mined. They were responsible for the product they produced.”
“a reward policy based on a basic wage and a bonus linked to productivity of the group throughout the extraction cycle, rather than a single shift.”
“Each miner at Haighmoor could handle a half-dozen jobs. That meant each could take on multiple team roles.”
“All teams were multidisciplinary.”
because the miners could influence their own work, they continuously innovated.”
Observing these work practices, Eric Trist and his former coal miner colleague, Ken Bamforth, called the whole thing practising “responsible autonomy”.
Which begs the question:
If we already know that responsible autonomy works, why aren’t we practising it more often?