According to the 2005 Pandolfi report, employees in Forest Service Enterprise Team Program were 1.8 times as productive as the average agency employee. The Forest Service has discovered a cure for bureaucracy that can work in any large organization.
The Enterprise Program is a intrapreneurial system for releasing the entrepreneurial passion of employees. The secret is choice and a well designed intrapreneurial system to make freedom work inside large organizations. This is the first of several blogs describing this miracle.
Imagine if the whole government, like the enterprise teams, were 1.8 times as productive. With that level of efficiency the Federal Government would save $1.578 trillion a year. Imagine if a major corporation became 1.8 times as productive.
Because this new system for organizing work brings the freedoms and virtues of the free enterprise system inside large organizations, we call it “free intraprise.” (for intra-organizational enter-prise.)
Enterprise team members remain Forest Service employees, but they live off the fees their intraprises earn by selling services to internal customers. The fees they earn support their salaries, overhead and expenses.
- Biological field work
- Planning services
- Ecosystem restoration
- Predicting fire risk and fire behavior
- Trail construction
- Computer services such as database programming and website development
- Archeological services: preserving history and creating public experiences
- Conflict resolution
In addition to making employees more productive, the free intraprise system also makes them happier. They have a level of freedom, honest feedback and personal growth that are rare inside a large organization.
“I think that my job with my Enterprise Unit is the best job that I’ve ever had.”
“The Enterprise program has made me what I am today.”
As long as they have enough work, an enterprise team can “fire” customers who don’t treat them with respect or who ask them to do something that they don’t want to do. They can redefine their own jobs.
When Tim Holden and Blaze Baker found themselves doing more work than they liked on traditional timber harvests, they created the Above and Beyond enterprise team to focus on the ecological restoration projects that are their passion. They have found plenty of customers who want the same thing. In their first 16 months their enterprise had over $1.3 million in sales. As a result the Forest Service is more effective at ecological restoration and Tim and Blaze are living the life of those whose work serves their deeper values.
The Enterprise Team System began in 1994, when John Phipps, then the manager of the El Dorado National Forest, read The End of Bureaucracy and the Rise of the Intelligent Organization and invited the authors, my wife Libba and me, to join the team that was reinventing the Forest Service. The team produced a report recommending a well regulated internal market for intrapreneurial services within the agency. Libba and I were thrilled. We had created free intraprise to liberate employees to bring their whole selves including their values to work. We believed we were on the verge of liberating employees everywhere.
The report sat on the shelf until 1998. We were crushed. Then John Phipps, assembled a critical mass of leaders for implementing free intraprise in the California region. We launched ten enterprises in 1998, six more in 1999.
The Enterprise Program struggled through years of neglect by the headquarters, kept alive only by the enthusiasm of its customers. Now the program is suddenly getting major support from the Washington office. If it grows, the Forest Service might once again become, what it once was, the premier example of a government agency that works.
In future posts we will cover:
- The three design features that make the enterprise systems work
- The secret financial system that supercharges free intraprise
- The Enterprise Operating Principles
- The intelligent organizations of the future
- Free intraprise success stories