A growing list of bossless organizations

As a little side-project I decided to keep a list of bossless organizations - those that decided to do away with bosses and allow their employees to self-organize. While I recognize that these organizations are not fully autonomous (there is always a CEO of some sort – even if not by title) and some utilize self-managing teams to different extent, they do operate quite differently from other traditional hierarchies (be it the simple hierarchy or the matrix). I will keep adding to the list over time. If you know of a company that is using self-organizing teams just shoot me an email. Basecamp (formerly 37signals) is a software company specializing in collaboration products. It avoids manageme

Three, two, one, zero … counting down to a bossless organization

While reporting to two, three or more bosses is a daily reality for many, there are some companies, where the number of bosses has been reduced to zero. Enter the bossless organization. While hierarchies may have many benefits (hence their ubiquity) they also get their fair share of criticism]. Increasingly, among the egalitarian-minded population, the very concept of formal authority sounds unappealing at best. Many employees perceive hierarchy as oppressive and stifling creativity, complaining about the “red tape” and “bureaucracy”. In his 1977 article “Almost Random Careers”, James March mentioned the myth of managerial importance, arguing that humans tend to attribute special meaning to

Matrix management in bad economy

According to late Jay Galbraith, making a matrix organization work requires a difficult task of balancing the power of different dimensions of an organization (e.g., functional, product, geography, customer type). Some have referred to this type of a structure as conflict-by-design. The centrifugal forces of organizational siloses are always threatening to fracture the matrix. This is especially pronounced when a company experiences rought times and its management is fighting for survival, like during the biggest economic recession since 1929. Matrix structure is a convenient scapegoat in the times of crisis. The collapse of the matrix structure during an economic downturn can be prevented b

The matrix organization: contradictions

You would think that people generally agree on what the benefits and costs of matrix organizations are, but this blog posts illustrates pretty well some of the contradictory ideas out there about the issue. The matrix structure has been both praised and harshly criticized (e.g. Peters, 1979; Ford and Randolph, 1992; Galbraith, 2008). This post nicely illustrates some of the opposing forces operating inside organizations where people report to multiple bosses. Let's take some of the advantages and disadvantages of the matrix structure listed in that post and put them together. Sharing valuable resources and knowledge across units is easier, but if the resource is scarce then there may be comp

© 2016 by Maciej Workiewicz