• Mark Cruth

Session 1: Scan Agile 2019

Updated: Apr 2, 2019


The first workshop on "A World Without Hierarchy" was held on March 13, 2019 in Helsinki, Finland at the annual Scan Agile conference. With 26 participants, we spent two hours exploring what the future of work would be like at ReimagineCorp. Given the scenario and the time frame, the group came up with 13 unique experiments for how to move an organization from hierarchical to distributed. Some experiments are more fleshed out than others, but the purpose is to use these to inspire your own experiments!


Experiment 1: Dealing with Laws and Regulations

  • Background: How do you fulfill laws and regulations? Who is responsible if the company doesn't follow the laws?

  • Hypothesis: We believe if teams are responsible for fulfilling the law, lawyers share knowledge, and the CEO should change every day...this change will result in everyone being interested in taking care of the law...we'll know this to be true when there are no legal charges made against the company.

  • Experiment Details: None provided.

Experiment 2: Using Money

  • Background: How do we use money within the company?

  • Hypothesis: We believe if teams can buy services from other teams (internal marketplace)...this change will result in profitable teams and a better understanding of how fund are used...we'll know this to be true when teams take ownership over their own spending.

  • Experiment Details: Identify two teams to experiment on.

Experiment 3: Giving Direction

  • Background: Nothing happens in an organization when there is no one to tell others what to do. How do we handle this?

  • Hypothesis: We believe that the customer is king and employees need to find their place, interest, and ways of working in relations with the customer...this change will result in happy customers, engaged employees, and higher profit...we'll know this to be true when everyone still wants to work for the company, everyone gets their salaries, and customers still want to buy.

  • Experiment Details: Pilot with three customers and teams to validate approach.

Experiment 4: Making Decisions

  • Background: How do we make decisions?

  • Hypothesis: We believe decisions should made by those who are affected by the decision and that anyone can initiate a decision...this change will result in smaller decisions being made faster and people will be involved in decisions concerning them...we'll know this to be true when better decisions are made, revenue increases, and people are happier.

  • Experiment Details: Experiment with Holacracy and look at how the company Supercell has implemented it.

Experiment 5: Informing Employees of Change

  • Background: Employees don't know how things are changing, how decisions are made, and what decisions are made?

  • Hypothesis: We believe if we inform teams about what has been decided using a Slack Channel...this change will result in everyone having the possibility to get information about decisions being made...we'll know this to be true when no more emails are received complaining about poor visibility to decision making.

  • Experiment Details: Try using Slack to inform a small group of teams of decisions, then expand to more teams.

Experiment 6: Compensating Different People

  • Background: How do we compensate different people?

  • Hypothesis: We believe if teams decide how to compensate themselves (as a team)...this change will result in everyone understanding how they are compensated and feeling they are compensated fairly...we'll know this to be true when complaints about compensation disappear.

  • Experiment Details: Pilot with a team where they create their own criteria for how salaries are defined and allow them to follow the criteria.

Experiment 7: Email Communication

  • Background: Everyone is using company-all email distribution lists because the hierarchical distribution lists do not work anymore.

  • Hypothesis: We believe if the organization moves to instant communication tools like chat systems, information radiators, and collaboration platforms (e.g. Yammer)...this change will result in less internal email and people using more modern communication tools...we'll know this to be true when no one complains about too many emails.

  • Experiment Details: None provided.

Experiment 8: What Does It Mean To Be "Flat"

  • Background: People are confused about what it means to move to a flat organization structure.

  • Hypothesis: We believe people will be less confused, be able to co-create the change, and have a better understanding when they get to play an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) about moving to a flat organization...this change will result in conducting multiple workshops around the world that create concrete ideas, suggestions and experiments to run..we'll know this to be true when better quality ideas emerge, less confusion exists, more clarity on the change is present, and there is generally less uncertainty.

  • Experiment Details: Run one ARG workshop with a team and measure impact.

Experiment 9: Decision Making Without Managers

  • Background: How to make decisions when there are no managers making the decisions?

  • Hypothesis: We believe teams should decide on matters affecting only the team and anybody can drive a decision on matters affecting many teams but they must seek advice from all affected parties...this change will result in increased autonomy, faster decision making, and better decisions will be made...we'll know this to be true when decisions are made at the right time by the right people.

  • Experiment Details: Decisions have to be made transparent to everyone. All information on decisions need to be made available to everyone. Major decisions need to be discussed with all constituents.

Experiment 10: Retain People Against Change

  • Background: With this change we need to form operational/functional teams for the flat organization. Some people won't like this change. How do we retail people and have career development for them?

  • Hypothesis: We believe self-organization won't happen automatically so we must change the perception of career development from traditional to what an individual does (skill based) using a franchising model...this change will result in individual units being responsible for themselves and will feed more ownership...we'll know this to be true when the retention rate is the same or higher than previous years.

  • Experiment Details: Choose a test group that has the necessary cross-functional elements/skills. Give members of the team responsibility for the unit to make decisions on what they need (skills). Allow teams to "Buy" support functions from other teams.

Experiment 11: Legal Signatures

  • Background: Who can sign on legal matters?

  • Hypothesis: We believe someone needs to be made the puppet signer (signer in name only...will only sign what a committee tells them to sign)...this change will result in still having a single signer but ensure group consent...we'll know this to be true when the company is able to meet legal requirements of having a single signer without giving the person too much power.

  • Experiment Details: Create a committee that assigns someone to the role of puppet signer. This individual has the ability to sign legal documents in the name of the company (ex. CEO). The puppet signer can only sign what the committee gives them to sign.

Experiment 12: Prioritization

  • Background: How to ensure the continuation of business? How do we prioritize incoming requests?

  • Hypothesis: We believe there should be a committee of people prioritizing incoming request to a dynamic backlog...this change will result in cooperation from teams and requests not being lost...we'll know this to be true when the customers feel happy and satisfied with the results of the requests.

  • Experiment Details: Create a committee of delegates from all business units. Create a common backlog and dot vote all incoming work for priority.

Experiment 13: Salary and Raises

  • Background: How to handle salaries and raises?

  • Hypothesis: We believe all salaries and raises should be decided by a company wide algorithm/AI...this change will result in open discussions on salaries and raises...we'll know this to be true when people do not quit due to salary problems and employees are more satisfied with their salary and raises.

  • Experiment Details: Make all information on employee salaries and raises open and create an algorithm that looks at individual contributions.

Four teams reimagining the future of work at ScanAgile 2019

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