Can an organization grow without bosses and formal authority?
Most people are familiar with the traditional hierarchical organizational structure – one person at the top has a handful of direct reports, who in turn have a handful of direct reports, who in turn… You get a pyramidal structure with as many levels as required by the organization to operate as it wishes.
At the other extreme of the organizational structure spectrum, you have small dis-organized entrepreneurial environments – the company founder with every employee reporting to him / her.
As the organization grows, we are trying to implement a new organizational structure that is innovative and that moves away from the old paradigms. The challenge we are facing is that we want to implement a structure that is scalable – will work immediately and throughout the organization’s growth – and respects the fundamental values of the organization.
Sounds easy? Try to come up with an organizational structure that can work with the following constraints:
- every employee owns shares of the company
- nobody has authority over another individual
- everybody can pursue their goals as long as it fits within the company’s mission
- people choose their assignments
- leaders are accountable to achieve results
- the company has to be profitable
- leaders can only build teams through negotiation and influence
- collectively people decide where to deploy resources (people and money) and which projects to pursue
- no single area can have more power than any others
- there is no Human Resources department
- the organization is approaching 100 employees in 4 cities (2 countries)
I’d like to hear your suggestions. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks what the new structure looks like.