To Boss or Not to Boss

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As most days, I was listening to CBC Radio. A guy, Ryan Carson, comes on and starts speaking about his tech company, Treehouse. He’s talking about how when he started, with just a handful of employees, they were energized and things were humming along.

His little company grew and pretty soon he had 30 people showing up to the same place every day. It didn’t take too long after that before he began to notice something else as well. He began to notice that instead of excitement and enthusiasm, he began to hear grumblings about so and so not doing this and so and so not doing that.

Pretty soon, he realized, coming to work every day wasn’t what it used to be. It was challenging for all the wrong reasons.  It occurred to him that prior to the growth, he’d had a flat management structure. He had a core group of people who were equals who sat around a table and discussed every aspect of the business and every one of them was inspired by the challenge to grow the business. He thought about this predicament (the norm for most workplaces) and  he decided to do something drastic. He got rid of all managers. Nobody was the boss (except him I guess). Krazy with a capital K? Anarchy defined?

Not so fast.

He decided that if he had the right people then there was no need for some artificial hierarchy, the kind that exists in most workplaces, where some people have a lot more power than others.

If you’ve ever had the incredible luxury of working somewhere where people work hard, show up on time, do their jobs, (I know, I know) you can’t help but recognize that a collaborative style, not a hierarchical one, makes the most sense. It’s more likely to keep energy alive, support innovation, promote momentum. You can’t go back. Once you’ve worked in that type of environment, if you ever have, you can’t go back.

After you’ve experienced a collaborative workplace, it’s almost impossible not to look at someone who is supposed to be managing and think what are they doing here? How obsolete is this?  Of course, this works best, I suppose, with knowledge workers.

Listen to the interview on Spark. So what do you think? Crazy idea or possible? What would make all the difference in the success of this do you think?

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