Can Each Employee Be A Stategic Business Unit?

Here is an interview with the CEO of Haier Group, a large manufacturing company in China (free reg. required). The article has some good strategy ideas, but I particularly like this answer to the last question.

The Quarterly: What issue do you spend the most time thinking about?

Zhang Ruimin: The question I think about almost every day is how to avoid the disadvantages of a large enterprise. In large companies, sometimes people don't notice a problem until it has gone beyond being solvable. To avoid this, we have to consider how to make every person respond very quickly to the market. We are trying to make each employee at Haier work like an SBU, a strategic business unit. This way, pressure from the market is the driver of our development. I don't want Haier to become like the Titanic. I want everyone to share responsibility with the captain instead of the captain bearing the responsibility alone.

I think is definitely possible, but it takes a special type of employee to handle that kind of responsibility and think outside of their regular tasks. In my experience, it is tough to find people who realize how their work affects the flow of work to and from others around them, and how they can help improve that flow. These are the types who, in my opinion, make the best employees.