© 2016 by Maciej Workiewicz

A growing list of bossless organizations

February 23, 2015

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 management and uses self-managed teams and, similarly to GitHub, heavly relies on remote work. (www.basecamp.com)

 

DreamHost, is a Los Angeles based web-hosting company. It has a management structure, but employees can self-select to projects and offices. They also chose their own CEO, Simon Anderson in 2011 in an open contest. (www.dreamhost.com)

 

FaSinPat The name of the Argentine ceramic tile factory comes from Fabrica Sin Patrones or “Factory Without Bosses” in Spanish. After the employees took over the factory after it was closed by the previous owner, they introduced worker’s democracy, class autonomy. The company remains self-managed and financially successful. (www.ceramicafasinpat.com)

 

​GitHub, with the office in San Francisco, the company is best known for its product, also called GitHub, which is the most widely used system to manage software projects. The company uses its own system to manage internal projects, allowing employees to join whatever team they want. If someone wants to start a new and exciting project, he or she needs to find another employee who shares their enthusiasm. (www.github.com)

 

IDEO, the famous design company from Palo Alto, CA, is behind such products like the first Apple mouse and Palm PDA. The multi-disciplinary teams at IDEO are mostly self-governed. (www.ideo.com)

 

LRN is a consulting company, helping other companies to realize the potential of their workforce. The company leads by example by utilizing self-geverned teams. Their transformation experience was captured in this New York Times article. (www.lrn.com)

 

is a San Francisco-based  digital publishing company that has introduced holacracy as a governing principle Medium(www.medium.com)

 

Menlo Innovations, based in Ann Arbor, MI, this software development company employing about 50 people (as of Nov 2014) also uses self-managed teams. Employees hire and fire other team members and does not use formal managers to run everyday operations. According to Richard Sheridan, the founder and CEO of the company, his role is to remove obstacles for the teams and not be a bottleneck. (www.menloinnovations.com)

 

Morning Star, a California-based producer of tomato paste, which employs 400 (but closer to 2000 at the peak of the season) has no mangers. Each employee signs a collaborative letter of understanding (CLOU), which describes personal goals. Conflicts are resolved by jury, with compensation determined by a panel of co-workers. Each employee can buy equipment and hire new staff if it is necessary to fulfil his or her CLOU. Yet, everyone is expected to consult such major moves with other team-members. (www.morningstarco.com)

 

Pantheon Enterprises is a US manufacturer of chemical products with the goal of developing technologies to replace toxic chemicals and processes in heavy industries. Its prime product groups include surface pretreatments, metalworking fluids, cleaners, sanitizers and deodorizers. The company's CEO Laura Roberts introduced holacracy into the organiztion. (www.pantheonchemical.com)

 

Semco is a Brazilian centrifuge manufacturer. When Ricardo Semler took the company over from his father he introduced radical decentralized management model where employees participate in decisions. The company has a circular management chart, employees set their own salary, choose their manager, and collective interview new hires. (www.semco.com.br)

 

Treehouse - is an online learning platform offering courses in computer coding, website development, entrepreneurship and other subjects. In the summer of 2013, after reaching 60-people size, the company decided to eliminate all managerial positions and gave all the authority to the employees. For more information see this post and the company's website (www.teamtreehouse.com)

 

Valve Corporation, the Seattle-based software maker, creator of such popular games as Half-Life, Portal, DOTA and Counter Strike. Valve has no formal management hierarchy, employees choose their own project and move their desk to join the cabal (the desks have wheels). See also my other post. (www.valvesoftware.com)

 

W.L. Gore, the maker of the famous Gore-Tex fabric has a limited hierarchy, uses small teams (whenever a team reaches 300 employees it is immediately split), where employees have the same title (Associate). Employees choose their own projects and each member’s performance is assessed by team members, depending on the contribution to the overall success of the company. (www.gore.com)

 

Zappos is an online clothing and shoe store. The company uses self-governing teams to run its projects – a governance model also known as holacracy, from the Greek holos “whole” and kratos “power” or “rule”. After being acquired in 2009 by Amazon, in 2013 Tony Hsieh announced plans to introduce holacracy. (www.zappos.com)

 

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