Oview’s Egalitarian Company Structure
We’ve out that an organization without hierarchy is very efficient and productive.
We think the only way to achieve your goals is to practice what you preach. If we want an honest world where everyone gets treated in a fair way, we need to start implementing our vision into our own organization. We’ve found that we work faster and more efficient if there’s no hierarchy in our organizational structure. Inequality of positions slows down processes and creates less productive atmospheres.
So how do you work and how does this benefit your workflow?
First of all, we don’t have a boss. We only have workers. We’d rather call them people. We don’t like to speak of ‘employees’, as it suggests there is an authority that employs people. We are a self-managing team with an egalitarian structure, where people take responsibility and take decisions themselves. We believe that every department knows its own goals and obstacles best, and that it’s more efficient and effective if the workers reach out to each other directly. This way the lines stay short. Processes won’t be delayed by having to wait for somebody to take decisions.
Doesn’t a company need a central manager?
No, we even like to turn it around. Why do we need a central manager? I’ll give you an example. We get a suggestion about the lay-out of the app. This suggestion needs to be registered by a content manager, it needs to go to a graphic designer, they need to sit together with the app developers, and if the suggestion is agreed upon and implemented, the update has to be published on our blog. Now if every step has to be decided upon by a central authority, we lose a lot of precious time. In the time the central management has decided upon every step, we could have done so many other things. Departments can easily sit together by themselves to figure out what the best course of action is, without anyone telling them what to do.
What about a leader? Doesn’t a company need a leader?
Perhaps initially, but when there are enough enthusiastic people with a vision, the idea of a leader as one person becomes obsolete. Sure, there has to be someone who guides the workers in their processes and help in determining the company’s course. But this doesn’t mean this can only be one person. We believe anyone can be a leader. Everyone get motivated in a different way, everyone has its own preferences for certain personalities or character traits. And different people see different qualities of others. That’s why there need to be different leaders who can guide different people.
Once a week we have a general assembly, in which we all come together to talk about our mission, progress, achievements, and problems. This way we make sure everyone always knows what’s going on, and we create a feeling of motivation by sharing experiences, and keeping each other up-to-date in the processes.
So you mean that you have mentors instead of a leader?
Exactly. We know that it can be difficult for people to see or discover their talents. Some people are good at seeing people’s talents and can help them find their own. That’s why we believe in mentors, that can help someone to find their talents and skills. But this doesn’t mean that they should have a higher positition. We don’t believe in positions, we believe in people who take care of different things. Some people are better with the administration, others are better graphic designers. Everyone has an equal place in the company regardless of the work he or she does. When everyone loves what he does, there doesn’t have to be a boss. There is no need for somebody to tell you what to do, because you will do it yourself.
Why do so many companies have a central management then, if it is so inefficient?
Many people still believe in a hierarchical system, which is outdated. People have been raised with the idea that hierarchy is the only way to really organize people. That there are people who know best what has to happen and that those people need to make the decisions. The father over the son. The wise over the reckless. But in a company there’s no need for such hierarchical relations. Everyone in a process is equally responsible for it, so let everyone make decisions.
At Oview we think that the best way to get things done is to let people organize themselves in interest groups. If you let people decide what they want to be responsible for, they will automatically choose something they like to do. And we believe that when somebody likes what s/he does, s/he they will work better, faster, and take responsibility of what has to happen. And when people don’t have to report to a boss about what they’re doing, but just do what they’re supposed to do, work is more fun and more motivating, because there’s no annoying paperwork to do.
Can you assume people will or can always take this resonsibility?
We believe that when people care about something, they will want to take care of it and arrange things in a good way. And people will more likely care about something they like to do. So we give everyone the opportunity to work on something they like to do. The workers create the ideas and philosophy of the company together. We encourage people to take initiative to develop what we’re building on. We all work together, we don’t necessarily work for anyone. We’re working on something because we believe in it. Responsibility and trust come naturally.