Management 3.0. The evolution of Leadership

management 3.0

Leadership is, at all times, a sticky subject for discussion.  No matter how judiciously we attempt to lead and manage, the terminology associated with various management styles is often tinged with negative emotions.  From “iron fist” to “micromanager” it seems like no one can win when attempting to lead a team of individuals towards a common goal.


In his book Management 3.0, Jurgen Appelo investigates this phenomenon in more detail.  From identifying what doesn’t work about standard management and leadership practices, to unravelling the concept of having your team participate in self-organization, Appelo acknowledges that this is a very complex subject.

At the same time, he identifies complexity and unpredictability as some of his favorite elements of the business world, and marches forth in a logical, analytical manner to provide guidance towards what he considers the modern, more advanced version of management:  Management 3.0.

What Is Management 3.0?

Author Jurgen Appelo fully acknowledges that the concept of “Management 3.0” might sound a little silly at first, but in reality, this is the latest and greatest version of management available at the moment.

The old Management 1.0

Management 1.0, as he terms it, is the hierarchical structure of leadership that many companies large and small have adhered to over the centuries. In this scenario, the business is managed in a top-down style.

boss management style

At the top is the person with the biggest salary and the highest amount of expected responsibility for the success of the company. At the bottom are the daily workers, who make the least amount of money, have lower overall responsibility, receive the least credit, and therefore have little to no motivation to do their best and try their hardest.

Management 2.0

Management 2.0 is, as most second versions are, a knee-jerk reaction to what doesn’t work. Appelo refers to Management 2.0 as the “Fads” version of management.

This version may have a variety of upgrades and features, but still focuses on the top-down format.  While Management 2.0 strives to inspire leaders to design better organizations, motivate people from the inside-out, and create a sensation of empowerment, the overall structure of top-to-bottom doesn’t change.


Ultimately, the continued dissatisfaction of the workforce has led to Management 3.0. Appelo has drawn much of his influence from the ideas behind Agile software development and complex systems theory to inspire the Management 3.0 model.

Agile Management  

Appelo takes great care to explain both Agile management and complex systems theory in detail in the text. In the simplest possible explanation, Agile is a process in which collaboration is key to development, allowing for deliberate allocation of resources, and distributing responsibilities in such a way that minimizes misinterpretation.

The complex system theory explains interactions between the parts of a system or organization, and how those interactions influence the overall reality of that system or organization.

Management 3.0 combines awareness of the need for collaboration, as well as the realities of how collaborative efforts actually pan out when variables such as personalities, deadlines, products, and success measurements are added.

Rather than teams operating in a hierarchical structure, this new format suggests that we reformat leadership as a network, and allow workers to guide themselves through self-organization.

How Does Self-Organization Work?

The concept of self-organization is compared to a garden. In a garden, there are many complex components that must work together. 

From the plants themselves to the mulch at the base, everything in a garden has a symbiotic relationship that results in the overall success of the garden. As the person taking care of the garden – parallel to the role of a manager – you don’t force the plants to grow. You don’t inspire the plants to take root and bloom.  You provide them with adequate sunlight and water, and you tend to them as they do the growing.

management 3.0

According to Jurgen Appelo, a business organization is quite similar. Rather than thinking of workers as a hierarchical team, with a variety of structured responsibility, why not consider everyone as a network. After all, the success of the business doesn’t lie in the hands of just one person, and no one task is carried out for the benefit of one team alone. Everything relates back to the overall success of the company.  

With self-organization, workers are energized and motivated to take responsibility and decisions into their own hands. By getting everyone involved in managing the organization, the culture changes from a hierarchical structure, to all individuals sharing responsibilities.

This means a greater level of communication at all stages of every process.  Furthermore, by everyone being involved in decisions, workers will then be able to equally share successes and failures, which will inspire them to continue the model of self-organization.  

What Are the Principles of Management 3.0?

There are five main principles to creating a work environment with the Management 3.0 model:

  1. Engagement
  2. Improvement
  3. Delight
  4. Managing
  5. Co-creation

Engagement refers to the basic act of motivating people to get involved, not just with the tasks that make up their job, but in their interactions with each other. Management 3.0 views the workforce as a network, not a hierarchy, so it is crucial for everyone to feel comfortable interacting with each other.

Improvement refers to the overall system, not the actions of one person or another. The system is made of everyone, so everyone needs to have equal input in order to improve the entire system.

Delight is the sensation everyone within the system should feel. Many businesses focus on making customers or clients happy, but really, everyone in the system should be happy. From teams to shareholders, the need to delight should apply to every interaction.

Management might seem like a contradictory term in these principles, but just as a garden needs expert assistance to keep the weeds at bay, to provide water when it’s not raining, and to trim back the lawn, a manager in the 3.0 system doesn’t manage people, but acts as a leader and guide for the system as a whole.

Lastly is the principle of co-creation. Much like the Agile software development system, collaboration is key to Management 3.0. Feedback is essential. The overall performance of the team requires co-creation just as much as the solution or end goal.

More about Management 3.0

In his book, Management 3.0, Jurgen Appelo provides very detailed guidelines for adopting a type of leadership that goes beyond putting a person in a role, and instead focuses on creating an environment, or system, in which collaboration and communication are the key motivators.



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