There is a lingering notion in the world of business and beyond that organizations are things with four walls, that employees are people who report to work inside them every day for years on end, that work is a matter of executing on defined “KPIs,” and that success is a product of climbing ladders and exerting an ever-greater span of control.

We are at a genuine inflection point when it comes to how we organize human effort to productive ends. In this creative and disruptive economy, where the challenge is to inspire and mobilize the full imagination, initiative, and passion of every single person, every single day, leaders must rethink their organization’s boundaries, redesign work, redefine the work of leadership, and re-jigger their measure of value.

Let’s face it, there is a whole lot more enthusiasm for making organizations more open, dynamic, and free than there is progress. Why? Control has been the iron fist behind too many organizations for too long. And unleashing freedom inside them requires dismantling deeply-embedded management principles and practices. Of course, it’s not an either/or proposition. The real trick—and the far greater degree of difficulty—is reimagining organizations, redesigning work, redefining leadership and rethinking the measure of value in a way that transcends the tradeoff between freedom and control.

The Unlimited Human Potential Challenge is in full swing. We’ve got so many exciting Stories and Hacks in the pipeline—and such exciting rewards for those who contribute—that we’re extending the deadline.

It’s the most universal and intractable challenge leaders in organizations of every stripe in every realm of endeavor face: how do you spread success? How do you take local victories—profound insights, clever inventions, powerful connections—and weave them into the broader fabric of an organization? How do you replicate the mindset and approaches of the most productive, compelling, and creative individuals across a whole system? How do you scale the best and leave the rest?

When it comes to building management and business models that are fit for the 21st century, one of the fundamental challenges is developing organizations that are capable of discovering, nurturing, aggregating, and appropriately rewarding contributions from employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders across boundaries.

What does it mean to create a genuine culture of innovation and collaboration—one in which every single person in the organization is switched on, alive and awake to the changes in the world and ready to contribute their ideas, insights, and particular point of view?

When it comes to creating organizations that are adaptable, innovative and engaging enough to meet the future, there's no single recipe, but there is a crucial ingredient: individual autonomy. People need freedom--the freedom to pursue their passions, experiment with new ides, ignore the hierarchy, make small bets, challenge conventional thinking, choose their work, and maybe even elect their own leaders.

With the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge, we are seeking the most progressive practices and innovative ideas for unleashing human capability to produce radically new approaches to organizing, competing, and creating advantage. How can we tap into emerging digital technologies and the principles that undergird them (such as transparency, collaboration, meritocracy, open?ness, commu?nity and self-determination) to imagine the future of business?

The mega challenge behind so many of the major challenges leaders face in the transition from the industrial to the innovation era is ultimately one of transcending tradeoffs. How do we make profit and purpose, scale and humanity, competition and community, focus and collaboration, discipline and creativity, power and generosity, individual and institution, “both/and’s” rather than “either/or’s?”

With the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge, we are seeking the most progressive practices and innovative ideas when it comes to unleashing human capacity—designing environments and systems for work that inspire individuals to contribute their full imagination, initiative, and passion every day; and aggregating human capability—leveraging new social, mobile, and digital technologies to activate, enlist, and organize talent across boundaries.

If there’s one question on the minds of leaders everywhere, it is (or should be): How do I unleash the full ingenuity, initiative, and passion of every single person in my organization—and relevant to my organization—every single day?

We recently ran an open brainstorming session we call a “Quick MIX” focused on generating bold ideas around the themes of the recently-launched SAP Unlimited Human Potential Challenge. The question on the table: What is the one thing you’d change to help organizations unleash and organize human potential across boundaries?

Watch MIX co-founder Gary Hamel make the case for renegotiating the trade off between freedom and control at work. Can you imagine a future where you can not only bring your own device to work but also design your own job and choose your own boss?

Watch our Maverick Hangout with Richard Sheridan, co-founder & CEO of Menlo Innovations—and learn more about Menlo's original, audacious, and powerful design for work.



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