A large E&P company was dissatisfied with its financial performance compared with a group of peer companies. The finding and development costs in particular were unsatisfactory. The board of directors invited management consultants to discuss ways to improve. I was invited to discuss why I thought Canadian Hunter Exploration (a new, small company that I worked with) was so financially successful. I asserted that it was because the company was organized into multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) with very few middle managers and lots of financial authority at the working level.

My discussions with the board soon focused on a question: “How...

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