Turns out it’s no secret that incompetence is rampant in large organizations. This is something most anyone who has ever had a job knows. All too often the people in charge seem unqualified for their position, likely due to the inability to make headway in an organization without accepting a management role, even if someone doesn’t possess the skills to lead or manage people. It’s an unfortunate predicament for all of us. But what alternative do we have?

The first is to alternately promote first the most competent and then the least competent individuals. And the second is to promote individuals at random. Both of these methods improve, or at least do not diminish, the efficiency of an organization.

A third alternative may be to acknowledge mastery in a given position or skill and reward that, without promoting to a position of management. The challenge, of course, is to empower people without putting them in charge of others, which is the established method of empowering (to everyone’s detriment). A change like this can’t just take place within one renegade organization. To work for everyone, the values of society and culture will need to change to value those who pursue mastery over management. Is that an opportunity for design?