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Fascinating post Nik. Really enjoyed your insights on how life without managers works. The idea of trust comes through strongly. Looking forward to your next post.
Thanks Ian! we do have a strong culture of trust, and are trusted to be the expert in what we do. I can personally attest to it being nice atmosphere to be involved with!
I find the idea of a flat organisation so intriguing, but it's great to hear some examples of it actually working, as well as the culture shock aspect and challenges. Looking forward to the next installment!
Many thanks Shonette- I can safely say it does work... although the idea is nearly always met with scepticism! The cultural challenges have been an interesting journey, but have definitely helped my personal development.
I think this is a great post which I hope gets broader coverage (I will share it!!). It is so refreshing to hear something genuinely different but not all 'Googleish' (we are so perfect). I had a question about career progression...How does this work and what are the limitations, if any, on career movement.
I'm glad you enjoyed it Pam-I also hope it gets broader coverage! Career progression is certainly an interesting topic, and one which is a big challenge for us. It's planned to be discussed in part 4. If that's too long of a wait, please feel free to drop me an email at: [email protected] and I'll happily provide quicker details/insights.
Thanks for posting your experience, Nik. You made the transition into a manager-free system very successfully; I wonder if that is true for everyone. Some of the aspects of a hierarchical system give people ways to hide and props to lean on, which may be hard to give up. You have relished the responsibility for getting the work done and it sounds like you are thriving. Do you know if the organisational system is based on a specific model, such as holacracy?
It would be good to think that more organisations can follow this 'trend', although it will be harder for existing organisations to transform than it is for new organisations to structure this way from the beginning.
Hi Jules, thanks for your comment. On a personal level I have adapted very well and I enjoy working in this environment. It is however, not for everyone. I have seen some colleagues excel, whilst others have left because it wasn't for them. From experience, I see that some people are more comfortable and perform better under managers.
In terms of organisational structure, it’s not specifically based on holacracy. The inspiration came from several organisations, including Semco (and Ricardo Semler). I think it is indeed harder to make such a change and it has taken a lot of work and commitment for us to get it done, but it's been well worth it in the end!
Interesting personal account of life without managers. Thank you.
Do you have any insight into the business results of it?
My pleasure. In terms of business performance, there was a short dip after we made the big internal change in 2012, although we recovered very quickly. Over the last few years business performance has been stable and we are now starting to see positive signs of growth.
By far the biggest change we’ve seen has been in client satisfaction. Since removing managers, it has rocketed. Employees are now much more flexible in delivering to customers and we are agile enough to deliver diverse products to specific sectors.