What is Decentralised Management in Business?
If you’ve ever considered a different approach to your organisation’s operations, you may already be familiar with decentralised management. But can this concept provide your business with the innovation and agility it needs?
When it comes to centralisation vs. decentralisation in management, it really is a toss up between the desire for control and the desire for agility. And now, with such fast and evolving business environments, the question on our minds is which business model is going to help achieve the strongest results and unlock the most growth opportunities?
What is a decentralised business?
A decentralised organisational structure is when decision-making is distributed on a wider scale throughout the company, rather than being concentrated at the top.
Versus a centralised structure, where decision-making is determined by a small number of senior personnel at the very top of the organisation, a decentralised business sees decision-making authority shared between different areas and teams throughout the entire organisation. This allows for greater agility, innovation, creative decision-making and autonomy. However, it does reduce the control and consistency that a centralised model provides.
What are some key characteristics of a decentralized business?
Within a decentralised business, you’re less likely to have multiple layers of management, and instead self-management is a high priority, which helps to encourage and diversify decision-making at lower levels.
Decision-making is ‘de-centralised’, meaning that employees at different levels of the organization are encouraged to make decisions without direction from the top. A centralised model on the other hand would discourage this, with decisions being made and delegated from a C-suite group of individuals.
Because decisions don’t need to be made from the top, decentralised businesses can be far more agile, making decisions quickly to adapt by using this bottom-up approach. It also means that decisions can be more innovative and creative, as the process is dispersed and diversified.
A decentralised model also allows for a greater level of autonomy – without control and restriction from senior decision-makers, employees have the opportunity to make their own decisions and work more autonomously, free from restrictions, adding to the agility and innovation the model brings.
What are the pros and cons of a decentralised business model?
Increased agility, innovation and creativity
With dispersed decision-making authority, innovation can thrive. With the agile freedom to experiment, make decisions and take risks, employees often come up with novel and creative ideas and it prevents restrictions and rigidity.
Improved employee engagement
By giving employees the opportunity to make autonomous decisions, you can dramatically improve employee engagement. Employees who feel valued and can actively participate in influencing the direction of a business are more likely to feel excited and motivated by their work, increasing their commitment to it.
Improved employee retention
As a result of improved employee engagement, you’ll likely see far higher staff retention rates. We know staff turnover and job satisfaction go hand-in-hand, so giving employees the best workplace experience possible can be vital for a business.
A decentralised business model enables autonomous teams to allocate their own resources more effectively, which can boost team and workplace efficiency.
Loss of control
Without a centralised point of decision-making, you automatically lose that area of control. If you’re in an industry where certain restrictions or legal requirements need to be followed, a decentralised model can actually be a big risk.
Loss of consistency
By dispersing the decision-making processes and allowing individuals and teams to make their own decisions, you can lose strategic alignment – decisions are made in different ways, and guidelines aren’t always followed, which can lead to conflicts with company goals. With centralised authority, decisions can be made consistently.
With a decentralised business structure, you also run the risk of teams becoming so focused on their own goals that they lose sight of the bigger company objectives. This can lead to unwanted siloing, which can be detrimental to overall business success.
If you’re experiencing this, then coaching can be a helpful tool to help break down those organisational silos and alleviate these risks.
Is a decentralised business a good option for you?
With both decentralised and centralised business comes pros and cons. So, there’s no right or wrong model. However, if you are moving towards a decentralised business model, understand when to regain control if necessary, and encourage collaboration between teams and areas of the business to ensure the most effective and successful outcomes. If you’re looking for increased innovation and creativity to keep up with a constantly changing working world, decentralisation might be the model for you. But don’t underestimate the power of a hybrid model, taking aspects of both models to ensure the best business operation possible.