Do companies need a strong leader to make it in today’s highly competitive environment? Many would say “yes, definitely”, but the employees of one Swedish software consultancy company would tell them otherwise. They don’t have a CEO. Nobody tells anyone what to do, instead all the 40 employees have meetings and decide together.
Crisp, the software consultancy firm has become world famous for not having a boss. Hoping to get its employees more involved, it moved on to changing its chief executive officer annually, but ultimately, the 40-strong staff decided there was actually no need for a single leader, so they scrapped the position altogether.
Well, it turns out that not having a boss, and being involved in decision making has made Crisp’s 40 employees a lot more responsible and motivated. And even if someone does make a bad call at some point, it’s definitely not the end of the world.
According to the BBC, the unique Swedish company is apparently set up more like a family – nobody tells anyone what to do, but the unspoken understanding is that “you don’t mess up the house.”
Crisp does hold four-day meetings for the whole staff two or three times a year, when they decide on things that affect everyone, like changing their headquarters, but generally, company employees are encouraged to make their own decisions. They also have a company board, a legal requirement in Sweden, which acts as a last resort, in case something goes horribly wrong.
So far, the “no CEO” experiment has gone surprisingly well. Henrik Kniberg, an organisational coach at Crisp, claims that not having to ask the boss to approve project decisions or budgets means that things happen a lot faster and the company can respond to clients quicker. Employees are also a lot happier, as revealed by the regular staff satisfaction surveys, where the average is a solid 4.1 out of 5.
However, Kniberg stresses that not having to ask the CEO’s permission about stuff doesn’t remove employees’ responsibility to consult with their colleagues and explain their decisions.
However, some CEOs believe that the idea only works in small startups, because it would be too chaotic in large organizations.