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Businesses The Almighty Buck

No CEO: The Swedish Company Where Nobody Is In Charge (bbc.com) 181

Katie Hope, reporting for BBC: Three years ago, Swedish software consultancy Crisp decided that the answer was no. The firm, which has about 40 staff, had already trialled various organisational structures, including the more common practice of having a single leader running the company. Crisp then tried changing its chief executive annually, based on a staff vote, but eventually decided collectively that no boss was needed. Yassal Sundman, a developer at the firm, explains: "We said, 'what if we had nobody as our next CEO -- what would that look like?' And then we went through an exercise and listed down the things that the CEO does." The staff decided that many of the chief executive's responsibilities overlapped with those of the board, while other roles could be shared among other employees. "When we looked at it we had nothing left in the CEO column, and we said, 'all right, why don't we try it out?'" says Ms Sundman.
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No CEO: The Swedish Company Where Nobody Is In Charge

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  • by Master5000 ( 4644507 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:25AM (#53886213)
    No upper management. And no board. Now that is a scary thought. How would companies run without people in charge? We need someone there don't we? /s I have yet to meet someone in upper management who knows more than his underlings. The reality is that most of the companies would actually run better and make more money if not for idiots in charge. Any time the boss isn't around the company things work smoother and clients are more satisfied. We even joke about it. But these are sad depressing jokes knowing you can't fire the moron who founded the company, even though it would be more successful if we did so.
    • by number6x ( 626555 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @12:05PM (#53886501)

      The secret to very good managers I've worked with is that they realize that the staff working under them does have more talent than the management does. Like a sports team, the manager of the team can rarely accomplish what the athletes can. The manager may have been a great athlete in their past, but usually they were not.

      Good management realizes it is their job to have all the things that the team needs in place so the team can perform at peak efficiency. They should take care of all of the logistics involved in getting the players and the equipment ready to perform. A great manager can often drive the strategy for the team, but this is not always necessary. Many great manager will just as often will employ others to provide the strategic planning.

      Org charts should really be drawn in the other direction, with the highest level management at the bottom. management is there to service the organization, keep it tuned up and well oiled, keep it pruned and growing in the right direction.

      The organization described in this article was of about 40 people. The tasks the former chief executives performed were analyzed and found to be tasks that could be performed by others in the organization. For an organization of professionals, experienced in their work, this seems completely reasonable and not revolutionary at all.

      • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @12:12PM (#53886577)

        I've managed sizable groups (in the multi-hundreds) and I fully agree with the above. The manager's job is to enable people to get things done, to eliminate obstacles, obtain resources, and otherwise stay out of the way of the people who know how to do the work. A good manager is in some respects invisible, becoming visible only when the staff need the road cleared for them.

        The biggest problem I had was with new line managers, who had to learn that being a manager wasn't about them --- it was about their staff and how they could empower their staff. Being the boss doesn't mean bossing people. As the boss you better know that you work for them because without them you fail.

        • I have managed teams from 3 to 50, and I agree with you completely.
          The real problem comes in when the manager's manager has different ideas. It's so much harder to be a good manager if your manager is not.

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          The one thing most managers fail to understand that most people if given a goal and all the things they need to accomplish that goal will work steadily toward it. If you have to drive them something is very wrong.

          • The one thing most managers fail to understand that most people if given a goal and all the things they need to accomplish that goal will work steadily toward it.

            Many people are like that but not all. If you've managed groups of people you would know that for every motivated and hard working person out there there is a malingerer who wants a paycheck but doesn't really want to do any work. I can't put numbers to it beyond saying that the percent of the population that will be lazy and uncaring given the chance is in double digit percentages. This is particularly true if the job that needs to be done is boring, hard, dirty, or tiring.

            I don't know if you've had the

            • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

              I don't not eat at McDonald's because they treat their workers shitty. I don't eat at McDonald's because the service and the food is shitty. It could be that the service and the food is shitty because they treat their workers shitty. I'm amazed that they make money at all. I do know that one of the most successful fast food franchises is Chic-fil-a. They are wildly successful and yet their employees seem to be content. Maybe that's why the service is excellent as is the food.

              • You consider ChicFilA excellent food?
                • Compared to McDonald's? Absolutely, although let's also be honest, that's not a high bar to get over.

                • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

                  Excellent fast food. I know of no fast food that qualifies as fine cuisine. There is a difference between barely edible and tasty. If it weren't for children McDonald's would be out of business. My kids loved it when they were little. Now, as adults, they avoid it as I do.

                  • It's mediocre food, perhaps, but it's pretty dependable in my experience. If you are traveling and you just need a bathroom and something safe to eat, it fills the purpose. The beauty of frozen meat, custom-built microwave ovens and a great set of processes...

                    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

                      The problem is that everything else is better. It's got the worst fast food burger in the business. Even half-ass Burger King has a better burger. The french-fries are their one product that is actually tasty. The service is almost universally awful. If you're extremely lucky you might get what you ordered in the drive through. One of my co-workers mentioned that the employees were all black and I came back with so are the ones at the Hardee's next door, why are they able to get it right. Racist as he

                  • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

                    The best I've had that I could consider "fast food" is Chipotle, which is genuinely good.

            • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @03:12PM (#53887873) Homepage Journal

              If you've managed groups of people you would know that for every motivated and hard working person out there there is a malingerer who wants a paycheck but doesn't really want to do any work.

              While this is true, the reality is that the person's co-workers are quite capable of spotting this without any manager's help. If they are empowered to do something about it, they can.

              I don't know if you've had the pleasure of dealing with fraudulent worker's comp claims. I have.

              Yes, so have I. I've also seen companies that go out of their way to duck valid worker's comp claims. Either way, this isn't a task for group managers to deal with. Worker's comp, at least in IT, is about the health and welfare of the individual. The essence of management, as typically constituted, is to steer the group in the direction of the desired goals. Health and welfare really ought to be dealt with elsewhere in the structure than the group management (assuming that management is actually required, which may or may not be the case, depending on many factors.)

              McDonald's [...] Pay is low, the work is tiring and boring, and your co-workers are rarely bright and motivated. [...] And that's ok as long as you know what to expect from them and build the business accordingly.

              No, it's not okay. It's almost a perfect example of worker exploitation. They should be paid enough and work allocated in such a way as to make the job a pleasure to do. By low-balling benefits, pay and tasking, providing no reasonable breaks, and seeing to it that there is very little opportunity or reason to dedicate one's self to doing a good job, management inherently takes on the role of exploiter in order to make things work "anyway." And it shows -- how may times have customers seen the patty slopped halfway onto the bun, the condiments in a ridiculous pile on some small fraction of the patty, the orders missing something or containing something that wasn't ordered? That's a direct consequence of making people suffer in their jobs. Not of the job being inherently difficult.

              Now, you can (and many do) argue that in order to keep that hamburger at a dollar, you have to exploit the workforce. The problem, as I see it, is that large numbers of citizens are earning so little as to make it so that an increase of a few dollars a day in meal costs represent a significant, even critical, impact on their overall income. This, while McDonald's executives earn millions of dollars per year.

              We are never going to fix this unless we restrict the highly unbalanced upwards flow of money into the hands of those who hold the controlling reins of these organizations. In other words, owners, CEOs and yes, managers. This will probably happen, but only because these upscale jobs will be automated out of existence. Otherwise, greed, hubris and a blatant disregard for worker welfare will continue to make jobs such as fast food jobs your basic employee's nightmare.

      • by tungstencoil ( 1016227 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @12:55PM (#53886853)
        Like ChipsChap, I've managed teams up to the hundreds on a global scale. I've also managed global product management and strategy. I started in the trenches, as a software engineer.

        Two things come to mind: first, I'll echo ChipsChap's sentiment about the manager's job. I'll add that sometimes there just needs to be someone who can make an informed decision and move forward. In many cases - in spite of what individual contributors may think - there isn't a clear-cut or definitive "better" way/solution/approach. A good manager makes decisions in the face of ambiguity, on behalf of the individual contributors, in spite of the fact that some will be pissed off.

        The second thing is the unfortunate cycle I see embodied in many comments here: individual contributors have a bad boss, and declare all management stupid and decide to forge their own path as much as possible. Managers have bad individual contributors, and declare them all ineffective and in need of more management. The sports team analogy is nice because it is fairly obvious to most people that forging your own path and deciding your individuals are ineffective doesn't work.

        I'll add to that, many people also misunderstand the purpose of a manager or individual contributor. Too often, ICs look expect management to be some kind of "super" version of themselves. If you're an engineer and you expect your boss to be a smarter/faster version of you, you don't understand their role (note: this is not the same as having zero understanding of a position). If you're a manager and you expect your IC to understand (or care about) the big picture or things that aren't directly in line with their day-to-day (even others' day-to-day), you don't understand their value. Case in point: I am far from the best or smartest software engineer in my company (thank goodness), but I damned well wouldn't go to one of my leads and ask them to devise a market/strategy-based feature pipeline that includes allowances for where we expect *global* legislation differences to lead the industry I'm in (and please code them up lickity-split, if you don't mind).
        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          OK, but the bad boss is a real problem. Theoretically a good CEO would handle that problem, but if you don't have a CEO, how does it get handled? (And in the process I must admit that even a reasonably good CEO often doesn't handle the problem...at least not very quickly.)

          Now all that said, let me comment about "Too often, ICs look expect management to be some kind of "super" version of themselves.". It's true that managers need a different skill set, but they need to adequate understanding of what the p

      • by pkphilip ( 6861 )

        Excellent points! This approach is not so popular though because those who enable others to function won't get the rockstar salaries...

      • Like a sports team, the manager of the team can rarely accomplish what the athletes can. The manager may have been a great athlete in their past, but usually they were not.

        And few of the athletes can accomplish what the manager can if he's decent at his job. That works both ways. Different skill sets are required for both jobs. Management rarely gets to their position by being incompetent know-nothings. They got that job because they have specific skills just like every other team member. It's not that the manager is less talented than his team, it's that he has a different set of talents to bring to the table. Each team member focuses on their role and the whole thing

      • The secret to very good managers I've worked with is that they realize that the staff working under them does have more talent than the management does.

        As someone who has been managed by a very good manager earlier in my career, I'd modify the above slightly. Specifically, very good managers realise that the staff working under them have far more talent at the jobs they were hired to do.

        OTOH, very good managers almost always have far more talent at the job they were hired to do (managing) than do the staff

      • Seconded (thirded—whatever). I've had the opportunity to work for a really great manager for about 12 years now, and I freely admit I wouldn't get half as much done half as well without him.

    • That's one of the dumbest ideas I have read. People need a command structure. Good management is there to support, organize, lead, and when needed, bring people back to reality. They also should know they are not SMEs and know how to accept advice.

      • I guess this is sarcasm ... but anyway, this is so wrong. Yes, the common idea is that (in good-old companies) managers are older, hence more experimented, hence they tend to mentor juniors who definitely need that .. right ?

        But it is far from being so simple. Some managers aren't that experienced, and in highly technical jobs, this hierarchy is counter-productive. Highly skilled people should stick to what they're the most efficient at : doing the real work that will make the company product so much bett

        • How far do you think NASA would have made it to the moon without a command structure? The main reason the allies won WWII against the superiority if the German technology was because of their organizational skills.
      • They haven't said there should be no command structure at all. They've said they don't need one guy at the top.

    • I have yet to meet someone in upper management who knows more than his underlings.

      Right... All those upper management people got there by being know-nothing idiots... [/sarcasm]

      Yes you probably know more about your specific job than anyone else does. Guess what? The same is usually true for everyone in the company including management. And people don't generally get to management jobs without having a pretty good clue how things work. Management doesn't need to know every nuanced detail about how to do everything in the company. That's why they hire other people. It doesn't mean t

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Come up with a design that you think looks plausible. In detail.

      This is sort of like the idea of mesh networks. It looks good, and it works fine on a small scale, but you start running into problems as the scale gets larger. There may be ways around it, but so far nobody has designed a mesh network that can scale well, and I'm not sure they can design an equivalent corporate structure. This doesn't mean it's impossible...but there are so many ways of gaming the system, and you need to prevent all of the

    • Do you honestly think that NASA could have made it to the moon without people in charge?
      Give 400,000 people the bank account number to $40Bilion. Good Luck! ?
    • No upper management. And no board. Now that is a scary thought. How would companies run without people in charge? We need someone there don't we?

      Well, the Swedish approach was to look at the individual job responsibilities of the CEO, and determine if all of those functions could readily be absorbed by other people or bodies within the company (where they weren't already overlapping - and sometimes conflicting - anyway). So if you want to go ahead and do the systematic hard work, there's nothing that prevents you from figuring out which positions could (or should) be eliminated, with their responsibilities reallocated to other staff.

      Of course, i

  • by Elfich47 ( 703900 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:25AM (#53886221)
    Small communal companies; where everyone is in agreement on the company's focus and direction can run without senior management keeping a hand on the tiller. Once the company size grows beyond 50-60, it will either factionalize based on the differing visions for the company, implode, or strictly stay below the size where factions occur, it will grow and senior leadership/management will be needed.
    • The Herd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:31AM (#53886267)

      Most of the time the herd will wander around and graze peacefully, get fat, and have lots of offspring. Then comes the storm and the herd runs off a cliff wiping most of them out.

      Interesting concept in a way, but leadership is not just checking boxes. Leadership is being able to react to situations and provide guidance to people to keep them no track.

      The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
      Martin Luther King, Jr.

      • Re:The Herd (Score:4, Informative)

        by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @01:01PM (#53886903)
        The firm does have leadership though. They just divvied the responsibilities of CEO out amongst the board. Perhaps it works better that way because decisions can still be made, but they're made in a collective fashion. On top of that they avoid the expense of having a CEO - salary, car, expenses etc.
        • by tomhath ( 637240 )
          Exactly what I was going to say. They're only pretending they don't have a CEO.
          • They're only pretending they don't have a CEO.

            That's right, but not because they divided the tasks of the CEO amongst the board. The board, according to the BBC article, only steps in if there is a problem. The mundane tasks of the CEO are done by other people in the company.

            But they've lost the one task that a CEO should have: vision. What is the focus and vision for the company? And if the board steps in when this becomes a problem, then they are the CEO en-mass. If one of the employees decides that the company should be making widget X and the boar

          • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

            They don't have a CEO. Chief, implying one person, is right there in the name. They have others who have taken on different parts of the job that a CEO does at other companies.

            That's not having a (one) CEO.

            • by s.petry ( 762400 )

              Can you provide me a number for how many pure democracies have ever survived for any extended period? Going through history, I find exactly 0. Sure, companies are not Governments but tend to work on exactly the same principles.

              That said, perhaps they have some form of Republic. I didn't read their full company charter to see.

      • What storm? They're a consultancy firm in the Swedish IT industry. They will graze until it is time to retire. They have adapted perfectly to their niche in the ecosystem, which is probably decorated with reasonable quality coffee and cinamon buns.

      • but leadership is not just checking boxes.

        My 12 years in the industry (I'm now back to academia) taught me that leadership is EXACTLY checking boxes, at least at the higher levels (CEO, VP, etc.).

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        I think the main job of a CEO is to provide the vision. Jobs, with all his flaws had the vision that Apple needed. I think that is what they lack now as they drift on momentum only.

        • When IBM was on terminal life support in the early 90's, their board was looking for a new CEO. I followed them very closely throughout my college years.

          I remember they went to a lot of people, including Bill Gates who declined but provided them with his vision of things he thought they needed to do...it was like 25 years ago and don't remember any of it. Anyway, most people had written IBM off as dead. They eventually hired Lou Gerstner to the horror of the tech community because he came from American Ex

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Once the company size grows beyond 50-60"

      Simple solution: don't grow.
      Though that to probably does not fit with current corporate paradigm.

      • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @02:11PM (#53887463)

        This makes sense. If a company is turning enough revenue to keep people employed, is there a real reason to grow? For hundreds of years, mom and pop shops have done business with a constant level of customers, where growth is nice, but not something that was a must. No grow-or-die focus as it is now.

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          One one: Greed. Apart from that, none at all and growing is actually the number one thing that can kill a successful enterprise.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        If you look at companies with very high experience and skill levels, you often find that indeed they do not grow, often far below this size. They do not need to. They are at the top of their game and they know it. Only those in the mediocre and below class need to grow.

    • by olau ( 314197 )

      Try reading this book: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-D... [amazon.com]

      Semco is > 3000 people.

    • It will end up like Valve and nobody will ever want to make Half-Life 3.
    • by The Raven ( 30575 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @02:43PM (#53887697) Homepage

      Tell that to Valve, who have hit over 400 employees, and they don't just lack a CEO... they lack any managers at all. Somehow they muddle on, barely scraping by on over a billion a year in revenue.

      • Valve's structure has both good and bad points.

        On the good side, basically everything they produce is pretty great.

        On the down side, they don't produce very much and they have almost no ability to hold to any kind of schedule.

        • So you're saying that if EA stopped putting out regular-remakes of their sports franchises, and instead only released a game when it was good, worthwhile, and offered something new... that would be a bad thing? If they just put out 'Madden' and upgraded it for free every year without charging customers a dime? If they made their money with optional DLC that didn't affect the core game?

          I'm sorry, but you've failed to convince me that switching away from a 'release drek on schedule' model to a 'only release w

          • So you're saying that if EA stopped putting out regular-remakes of their sports franchises, and instead only released a game when it was good, worthwhile, and offered something new... that would be a bad thing?

            No, but their apparent inability to e.g. complete or even progress the story-line of Half Life certainly irks many, since "every 3 months" has turned into "9 years and counting".

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:26AM (#53886223) Journal

    The article omits a critical point: that Swedish (Nordic) culture has an almost unique approach to authority that is particularly collaborative and consensual.

    This model is not exportable to other contexts without a wholesale change of the destination culture as well...a bit more of an undertaking.

    Cf the work by Geert Hofstede

    • I don't think you're quite right about that. Working in the US, I've worked for a few small businesses (less than 100 employees) where there was an official CEO or single "boss", but there didn't need to be. Major decisions were really made as a collaborative effort among the senior staff, and smaller decisions were delegated to individual senior staff members. Now, there did need to be some method of settling disagreements. Depending on the nature of the disagreements in these companies, it may be that the disagreement was settled by "the boss" (owner/CEO), but those instances were rare in the companies I'm thinking of. Usually the head IT guy made IT decisions, the head finance guy made finance decisions. The head of sales made sales decisions, and so on. The CEO was often, in reality, just one of those heads, except in the rare situations where he wanted to pull rank.

      So I think that this could work in the US, at least in companies that are run well and have a good senior staff. I think the key thing here isn't the geographic location or even the culture, but the size of the company. The staff consists of 40 people, well below Dunbar's number, which enables a more organic, communal, and collaborative decision-making process. If they continued to grow, they would eventually need to to adjust and formalize their decision-making. However, I don't really see a reason why a company, even a large one, *needs* a single CEO. It seems like you could still have a board of senior staff who votes on issues, the big downside being that it may be time-consuming to have to convene a formal meeting when decisions need to be made, rather than delegating to a single person.

      • So I think that this could work in the US, at least in companies that are run well and have a good senior staff.

        If you have the right 40 people, you can have a company run in any style you select for. It takes the right 40 people.

        Now grow the company to 100, which means you have to hire another 60. With the EOE and labor laws in the US, do you think you can discriminate against the people who aren't right? Now you have a good percentage of employees who don't fit that management style, and the company fails.

        a single CEO. It seems like you could still have a board of senior staff who votes on issues,

        So you've replaced a single CEO with the results of a vote between a few "senior staff". That leaves the rest

        • A large part of your response seems like you think you're arguing with me, but you're basically saying the same thing I am: This only works because it's a small company, and though you might not need a single person as the CEO in a larger company, you'll at least need a formal leadership with a formal decision-making process.

          In other words, it's not about it being in Sweden, it's about the fact that it's a 40-person company. If they get much bigger, they'll need to do *something* to put some person or gro

        • by epine ( 68316 )

          So you've replaced a single CEO with the results of a vote between a few "senior staff". That leaves the rest of the company "not in charge".

          Why stop your argument there? With another sentence or two, we can rewind western civilization all the way back to the Taliban's conception of marriage.

          Because in any human collective, only one party can ultimately wear the pants.

          How the truth stings. Resistance is futile. Sauron does not share power. Those poor, deluded Swedes. Yada yada yada.

      • Yes it can work.

        A board of directors is often just people with a financial stake in the company. They don't necessarily work there which is why you have a CEO to represent the board in day in and day out operations. But it's totally feasible to have multiple employed top managers.

        A CEO's (which is more helpful in larger companies) primary job is as both visionary and ambassador to the public. His secondary job is to audit the company's management from disagreements/infighting (usually about salaries) and t

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      It also depends on the legal framework in the particular jurisdiction. There are certain position that are specified in various laws. You have to put a name on government forms for each one. Just filling in "Not Applicable" won't do. Or you won't get your business license. Or be held in violation of some IRS regulation.

  • Yes, I see (Score:5, Funny)

    by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:26AM (#53886229)

    I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@ev c i r c u i t s . com> on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:26AM (#53886231) Homepage

    They looked at their C-level executives and said: hey, they don't do anything anyway, why bother.

    It's a sentiment many of us have had for a long time.

    • I agree with the sentiment, the article even states it plainly: Enough of the "board" is staffed by people that also work in the company, so there is no reason to hire a extra to work as a CEO.
      So the article's headline is a blatant lie. There is somebody in Charge of the company: The board.

      This would be what... Active management by board?

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        so there is no reason to hire a extra to work as a CEO.

        But... but... then who will pull in a salary 100x that of everyone else, and reduce headcount for short term profitability?

    • They looked at their C-level executives and said: hey, they don't do anything anyway, why bother.

      Which is not all surprising given the business the company was in. When most of the employees are working at customer sites doing customers' bidding, the company structure isn't doing much. I don't know the details of how this particular Swedish company, but many consultancies here operate as little more than recruiting agencies. They hire and fire based on customer needs. They provide no internal training. The only people who come into the office on a regular basis are those that seek customers and thos

  • Bye Sweden! (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:27AM (#53886235)
    US CEOs will nuke Sweden to stop this dangerous idea from spreading around the world!
    • Please don't tell your CEO in Chief about this, or he will build a wall to keep the illegal CEOs out. Probably gonna make us pay for it too...
  • Scale? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:29AM (#53886241)

    I'd like to see this tried at scale. 40 people barely scrapes my division.

    That said, collective intelligence [wikipedia.org] has been used by companies and the intelligence community. I'd be interested if a few thousand employees collective thoughts on a direction of a company would work better than the boneheaded moves by a few C-level execs.

    • Re:Scale? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by olau ( 314197 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @12:26PM (#53886675) Homepage

      Look up Semco and Ricardo Semler:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Semco has > 3000 people.

      If you are curious, try reading this book:

      https://www.amazon.com/Seven-D... [amazon.com]

      The title is cheesy, but it really is an interesting book, once you get into it. Semler's philosophy is that of questioning things and if no good answers are provided, experiment with changing it.

      For instance, he describes how he wanted to let people themselves choose the executive which ended up with him being replaced. :)

      Or another experiment where he thought it was silly that the company should dictate the working hours in their factory. He then had to fight the union who thought he was tricking them, until they the finally agreed to a carefully controlled experiment - in the end the workers just held a short meeting the day before and decided among themselves what do to.

      Of course, some kind of coordination structure is still needed. But there's a difference between CEO-is-coordinator to CEO-is-tyrant-who-can-fire-you-on-the-spot-if-he-doesn't-like-your-dress.

      People will self-organize, and self-organization is powerful because it lets those with the dirty fingers make adjustments that are obvious to them.

  • by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:33AM (#53886271)
    Since January, the USA is an entire country where no one is in charge.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A CEO does two important things: one, provides a single source of vision and leadership for a company, and two, provides a great scapegoat if things aren't going in the right direction. A CEO is a lot easier to fire and replace than the whole "collective leadership body" that they have.

  • When things go wrong, terribly wrong, there needs to be one ass to kick. That always goes in the CEO column.

    • Re:One ass to kick (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:46AM (#53886375)

      Why do people insist on living in idealist land even when the real world clearly doesn't work that way?

      How often do CEOs get their "asses kicked"?

      Ridiculed, sure. Left destitute and without prospects (let alone send to jail) after driving a company into the ground and ruining the workers and investors? Rarely.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      I disagree. I see a lot of things going terribly wrong (including clear existential threats) at our customers, and the CEOs are all asleep at the wheel or make things worse.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @11:46AM (#53886379) Homepage
    How will you ever formulate your trust synergies? without your CEO you cant reactively anticipate the growth strategy of your win-win situations and kaizan the goal strategy matrix. Christ forbid you go for longer than a few weeks without a CEO's absolutely critical newsletters and quarterly associate pow-wows to help strengthen and inspire. Why it gives me chills to think how much actual work your corporation accomplishes on a daily basis without a CEO. You might have "happy customers" and "completed projects" but do you have productivity metrics to suggest your lean six-sigma axis is tilting toward revenue pivots?
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Seriously though, I wish them the best of luck but I hate corporate entities without any clear ownership. Product owner, system owner, process owner, project owner, customer owner (key account manager), it doesn't have to be a dictatorship but someone you can point to and say "Hey you, this is your responsibility and I need a change/decision". And it's their job to take input from whoever should give input, get approval from whoever

  • They rarely actually do it, but it remains an essential function of the office, and I'm sure they'll feel a need for it at some point.

    By virtue of being nominally responsible for anything the company does, the CEO serves as somebody to blame when shit goes wrong. Other people get blamed more often in practice, but this is because one of a CEO's other main functions is delegating.
    • Indeed - were this a publicly traded company, shareholders would want to hold someone's feet to the fire. It's too bad when the fire is fueled by cash burned while the CEO messes up, and then more cash is given tot he CEO has s/he departs with their golden parachute.

  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @01:02PM (#53886915)

    Without a CEO, how will we ever be able to make sure that corporate assets are sold off to third parties and then leased back in order to show a huge short-term profit that generates a huge year-end bonus while simultaneously stripping the company of value and driving it toward bankruptcy?

    • Yup - this happened to a local tavern that was also known for producing some of the best beer in the area. The owner sold the building to a real-estate investor and leased his own property back - using the money to pay down debt.

      Said investor jacked up his rent (up to "fair market value") - forcing the business to close. They then split the two entities and sold the beer to a bigger brewery.

      Sad & quick end to a family business.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @02:54PM (#53887763) Homepage

      Without a CEO, how will we ever be able to make sure that corporate assets are sold off to third parties and then leased back in order to show a huge short-term profit that generates a huge year-end bonus while simultaneously stripping the company of value and driving it toward bankruptcy?

      Don't worry, in the USA, we have private equity (see: vulture capital) firms who go out and buy such companies using loaned money [1], install their own CEO and do exactly that - they pay back the loans they used to buy the company from the assets the company owns.

      [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • ... and is happy that he's doing regular consulting again. Big decisions are made at all-hands meetings that are made 3x a year. ... It actually sounds pretty unspectacular and really not that far from what I would do if I had a company.

  • by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Friday February 17, 2017 @03:21PM (#53887941)

    The board is still in charge. And below, there is a top level of management.

    They eliminated one middle man between the top managers and the board. Big deal.

    In America, that is one seriously overpaid middle man, however, so we need to do it more than they do.

  • ...so who's going to lead your "flying the corporate jet to each remote site to give a 2 hour-long all-hands presentation on how everyone needs to cut expenses and increase productivity" effort now?

  • In a previous life I worked for Ericsson. In training for Americans, a story was related by our Swedish trainer as so: "The Roman empire finally came knocking on the borders of what's now Sweden and asked of some Swedes, "take us to your leader" in typical Roman fashion. The startled Swedes responded, "what's that?" Anyone who ever worked for a Swedish company would recognize the idea of a *very* flat organization where the ratio of compensation between the top and bottom employees is around 4:1 - contr
  • There is a lot of misunderstanding out there about what a CEO's job is (among CEOs, even).

    Done properly, a CEO is not "the boss," but simply the primary interface between investors (board of directors) and management (the people actually running the company). Often, a CEO will take on more of an investor or manager role depending on the size of the company and the quirks of the individuals involved. This can lead to trouble though. Knowing who to support and when in the perennial struggle between manageme

Mausoleum: The final and funniest folly of the rich. -- Ambrose Bierce

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