Excellence in management is at the core of every great company, but managers can’t do it alone. At White Rabbit, we view management as a collective activity. Management isn’t just what managers do; it’s what we all do. Management is all pervasive and extends across all functions, all processes, and all people.

We focus on designing the organization to give employees a great amount of freedom and responsibility to exhibit self-managed behaviors. Specifically, we attempt to manage by context, not control.

Leaders at White Rabbit rarely pull out their authority card to create a self-managed environment: if leaders appear to take too much control, then the organization will stop behaving in a self-managed manner. Rather than relying on authority, our leaders almost exclusively depend on feedback, communication, relationships, and influence.

The move-by-move control that seemed natural to military operations proved less effective than nurturing the organization — its structure, processes, and culture — to enable the subordinate components to function with ‘smart autonomy.’ —General McChrystal, Team of Teams

General Principles and Practices

Investing in Context

We believe high performance people will do better work when they understand the context. In pursuing their objectives, managers at White Rabbit are encouraged to use communication and influence, over command and control. This is why we do new employee onboarding, why we are transparent about decision-making, and why we are so open internally about strategies and results.

Context over Control

By creating an environment of transparency around decision-making and providing as much relevant context as possible, managers empower their direct reports with tremendous authority to make their own decisions and to design their own processes to get the job done.

Control (avoid)

Top-down decision-making

Management approval


Planning and process valued more than results

Context (embrace)





Clearly-defined roles

Knowledge of the stakes

Transparency around decision-making

A manager shouldn’t blame her staff when they do something dumb. Instead, she should ask herself, what context did I fail to set? When a manager feels tempted to control a direct report, she should instead ask herself, what context could I set instead? Could I be more articulate and inspiring about goals and strategies?

Good context