What are Bossless offices and how they are different from what’s out there now?

People talk about organizations that are process and project oriented, or horizontal; but Bossless offices are truly more process and project oriented. They have a bigger bias toward cross-functionality, because there are far fewer functions and vertical stovepipes. Two great references can be found in recent articles such as NPR’s “Inside the Bossless Office” and Jeri Ellsworth’s experience at Valve.

Bossless offices put an end to “I’ve got to check with my boss, and you’ve got to check with your boss, and your boss’s boss.” It dispenses the traditional approach that requires functional heads or department heads to get together and make decisions. Instead, decisions are made by the key people networks who have a stake in the outcome of a process, who have expertise in how it should run, who understand what the results should be, and who know from experience when these things should get done. As a result, Bossless organizations are flatter. There are fewer levels of hierarchy.

Why should businesses adopt a bossless approach?

Fewer boundaries need to be managed

The earlier employees within a Bossless organization become engaged in a process because they know they are a part of it, the fewer boundaries will have to be managed. You have people working together on key tasks that need to get done. It’s a completely different mindset from the hierarchical view, which is where “my department does our thing and your department does your thing and we never meet in the middle.”

There is no need for an extensive oversight

In a Bossless office, you don’t need the hierarchy and the extensive oversight and control in order to get things done. When control and coordination come from within the team, you save a lot of time and money, which translates into getting processes running more smoothly, and ultimately getting products more quickly into an increasingly competitive marketplace.

There is a greater opportunity to learn, grow, and be successful.

In a Bossless organization, success is built around what you do, and not so much your place on the org chart. Instead, your success is based on the kinds of things that you do, who you are and what your talents are, as opposed to where you are in the hierarchy. This is a much more fulfilling approach to work.

Managers can be better utilized

“We don’t even need this extra level of management! We have a hierarchy of four levels—maybe we can get by with just three or two.” This allows companies to get more out of their managers, because one manager can now take on strategic roles in fifteen or twenty areas, instead of having to be a hands-on manager in just two or three.

A Bossless office creates more leaders

People use the word “empowerment” today as if it were a newly invented concept. It’s not. Though, if you’re going to maximize your effectiveness in business, you have to empower people down to the lowest level to make decisions, form teams, and get things done without bureaucracy and red tape.

Technology can be used at ease

Employees may be allowed to bring laptops they use at home for work. This makes them comfortable as they are better acquainted with the machine. They many also be able to fix their own work timings.

Ultimately, in a Bossless office, you’ve got the right people in the right place at the right time—people with a stake in the outcome of a given process, a broader sense of expertise than they would have had if they had remained isolated in their cubbyholes, and ownership of the endeavor. Because they are becoming decision-makers, they are growing as leaders. Whatever your organization, whatever problems you face, Bossless office might just be the answer.

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