In around 50 years of work I have only ever experienced organisations with job titles, roles, responsibilities and hence ownership of specific areas and activities. Those roles and responsibilities were not always very well defined so sometimes tasks would fall into cracks because no one stepped up to execute them. But in the main there was an understanding of who was responsible for and owned what activity. This structured approach has existed since early monarchical organisations and many people would argue it has stood the test of time.
So coming across this article by Ran Harpaz about "abandoning" ownership was a moment of real enlightenment. He is describing a model called DTA (Dynamic Team Assignment) that turns ownership on its head and assigns people to activities as required. Rather than feeling ownership of a specific activity, people in organisations using DTA feel ownership for the whole strategy “along with the company’s mission and the journey to get from A to B. This way, teams can band and disband as often as needed, based on priorities and projects.”
Organisations are becoming more adaptable and flexible to try to be anti-fragile in this fast changing, complex and equivocal world. Harpaz quotes McKinsey’s Yuval Atsmon who thinks “as jobs evolve, appear and disappear, adaptability will be more valued than longevity.” Harpaz believes companies and teams that adopt DTA have a much better chance of adapting to and surviving whatever situations they face. In this article, he outlines some important steps to obtain buy-in and successful implementation of DTA in an organisation.
There’s the risk of losing a critical team member, without whom the project wouldn’t continue. In fact, the ownership model can disincentivize people from sharing knowledge and working toward shared conventions, as their exclusive knowledge makes them indispensable.