Ade McCormack
Ade McCormack
Digital Readiness Institute

Ade McCormack is a former technologist who today advises leaders on transformational matters. Most recently, he has established the Centre for Leadership and Disruption Readiness to help organisations and societies adapt to an unknowable future.( .

He has written for both CIO magazine and the Financial Times as a columnist focusing on digital age leadership. His experience extends to around four decades and forty countries, across many sectors. 

Ade has written a number of books, including Biz 4.0: An anthropological blueprint for business in the digital age. He has also lectured at MIT Sloan School of Management on digital leadership and is an associate at the Møller Institute, University of Cambridge.

By Ade McCormack, Digital Strategist

This article is by Featured Blogger Ade McCormack from his LinkedIn page.


As robotics becomes more mainstream, reference to Asimov’s three laws of robotics increases. It’s quite impressive that a fiction writer should define a set of laws that will ultimately underpin business and society.

But what if we had a simple set of rules that leaders could give to their staff such that, over time, there was no longer a need for leaders. Better established species than our own, for example ants, demonstrate that leadership might be an unnecessary construct. As the business and society ramp up to digital economy speed, it might transpire that leadership, and the associated reporting structure, is an impediment to success.

So what might the rules be?

Here is a first wave attempt:

  • Assign yourself to a revenue-generating team that plays to your passion, strengths and interests.
  • Act based on the needs of the customer, keeping in mind the current focus of the team and the associated cost, risk and value.
  • Agree remuneration with team based on contribution.
  • Question everything.

Keep in mind that not all risk is bad. There is more meat on an elephant than a rabbit, but there are greater risks in trying to secure an elephant for lunch.

Smart workers recognise the importance of being a collaborative player. Your employment options will dwindle if you are known as a net absorber of team spirit.

Smart workers may even group together in the form of an alliance and go to market as a zero maintenance, super effective dream team.

The advantage of these rules is that they play to our passion, strengths and experience. They encourage a collaborative rather than individualistic approach.

I am not sure how sales people fit into such a model. I guess that as we gravitate towards a service based model for everything, those that are developing or providing the service are in the best place to encourage its usage.

I think this model would democratise employment. No longer would formal qualifications be the sole admission ticket to a guaranteed friction-free career path. Motivation and humanity would be better indicators of the ideal worker.

Some might feel that this approach to workforce management is fraught with risk. Not least the lack of control. But maybe leadership, in its industrial era form has always been a productivity inhibitor, but did not show up as such given the slower pace? It will be interesting to see how leadership / hierarchical organisations will fare in the pressure cooker of the digital economy.

What rules would you weave into your self-organising workforce?

Originally published on LinkedIn