Why Stratlab Doesn’t Have a CEO, President or Formal Boss 

the starfish and the spiderWe at Stratlab are growing a “Starfish” organization, stolen from Ori Braffman’s the Starfish and the Spider, the story of leaderless organizations.

I don’t believe the future is in an organizational chart that dictates a clear divide between management and employees. The future is a leaderless organization. An organization that doesn’t need constant management, an organization where you’re free to make decisions on your own, we hope they are good ones but we know we can’t control that.

What we can control is how StratLab grows as a Starfish, by taking on bigger and better (more impossible) problems. To do this structure is a hindrance to true creative brilliance hence why at Stratlab we have as few rules a humanly possible.

The starfish and the spider

The current way to organize a business with Executives, Management and Employees dates back to the 1600’s

In Maverick by Ricardo Semler, he talks about a story he uses in presentations before. The story talk about a manufacturing business where the employees were getting worked too hard, management is complaining they don’t work hard enough, and the boss’s think they’re both out to lunch. Usually Ricardo doesn’t get much of a response to the story, until he lets them know that is was a problem dating back to 1657!

What if the way we organize business is wrong?

When you have too much structure people begin to rely on it. Bureaucracy takes over and nothing amazing or serendipitous can happen. That terrifies me as a creative person, attempting to schedule creativity. It just doesn’t work like that.

I try and imagine what it would be like in those organizations that are completely structured. The stress of someone looking over your shoulder at any given time. Some people will derive power from that structure, but that’s not true power, that’s contrived power, made up, like a title to give importance or feed ego. Beware, contrived power is fleeting.

Make the right decision, we trust you.

“When you give people freedom, you get chaos, but you also get incredible creativity.”

When you give people freedom

When did we we stop trusting people in business? Business owners are the worst for this. “Don’t worry about updating the About page with new staff, they don’t stay long enough anyway.” (legit comment from a past client.

Trust begets trust. In Don Pepper’s and Martha Rogers Extreme Trust, they talk about the best way to gain trust from people, by giving it away. 

How many business owners actually trust their employees? How many employees trust the business owner? We need to work on this, without trust you’re merely just doing a job, eventually being let go.

If you still don’t believe the future is in leaderless organizations I always remember the story about Wikipedia, as it’s run mostly by volunteers. Scott Cook, founder of Intuit, said, “Wikipedia proves that people are basically good.” Given the vast freedom to do what we want with Wikipedia, we just make sure it’s accurate and undated. How many people do you know who think mankind isn’t kind at all? That needs to change.

How will you change? 

I’m not sure, what do you think? – from the Virgin Way by Richard Branson these 7 words are the most used words in his office. If you’re the one making all the decisions that’s not sustainable, allow others to make those decisions, and be accountable. Once you help others make decisions you’ll see confidence build, self esteem increases, and when you take ownership you simply do a better job.

So give the staff the keys to the executive lunch room, what’s the worst that could happen? The divide between your staff and management is what’s killing your culture. Throw the organizational chart out and start over.

The divide between your staff and management is what's killing your culture