Horizontal structure for an open source project
Changes in society happen in waves and some are bigger than others. Perhaps, to the surprise of many, we’re not referring to blockchain technology here, but rather to something that is even more significant, although still in its infancy. We are talking about an evolution in organizational structure.
In his book, Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux describes the evolution of our methods of collaboration. He articulates the four most recent phases, each involving different manifestations of organizational structure, with changes from one to the next happening gradually and in parallel.
- Amber: governmental agency with rigid hierarchical structure
- Orange: global corporation with clear top-down line of command
- Green: culture driven organizations
- Teal: spontaneous self-organization
For the most part, our society is still entrenched in the orange-organization mindset. However, there is a significant and growing number of teal organizational structures, forging a new and progressive path. The Komodo team is one of these, innovating on the forefront of this organizational evolution.
The wonders of a self-managing environment
The Komodo team is not experimenting with blockchain technology alone, but also with the very structure and culture of our own organization. Here are some insights into how “teal” organizations, including the Komodo Platform, operate.
Organic Project Prioritization
Projects are run in a self-managing environment, with many projects and tasks running in parallel. Like other “teal” organizations, our management and control layer is different than what most of you know: our projects progress organically and informally. The management happens at the recruiting level, where we ensure project managers have the correct mindset and the necessary skills to bring our vision to life through their own methods.
As a team, we constantly rearrange our priorities based on what we feel is most urgent, directing workflow in an efficient and collaborative fashion. We have an ongoing feedback and communication loop which impacts decisions, but we have no overarching master plan.
No job titles
Our job titles are out of date quite fast as everyone naturally shifts from one task to another. Thus, creating accurate job titles is a challenge that needs no answer. Each team member is involved in multiple facets of projects, according to their skills, knowledge, and experience: we all have many roles, and they are always changing. As Frederic Laloux explains, the lack of clear traditional roles is sometimes misunderstood:
Outsiders, and sometimes even insiders, can find the absence of job descriptions and job titles confusing. Without boxes to put people into, the organization chart disappears and it’s not always easy to know who is responsible for what.
There are certainly challenges we’re still figuring out, but the very process of solving these leads us to new and better tools and communication methods, and is ultimately part of our evolution process.
You would think that there are no bosses in a decentrally-structured organization, but surprisingly there are. The point is particularly well explained by Frederic Laloux:
Every role people take on is a commitment they make to their peers. They are not accountable to one boss; every one of their peers is a boss in respect to the commitments they made.
What we do have are roles which carry responsibilities, and with responsibility we have the burden of making important final decisions. But with no main boss sitting in an ivory tower, this responsibility is spread and the burden is shared.
No Absolute Consensus
A horizontal structure keeps an organization agile and maintains its ability to innovate. This contrasts with hierarchical structures, the rigid nature of which can hinder change and stop experimentation. However, the lack of a traditional hierarchy doesn’t mean that everyone has to unanimously agree on everything. Instead, people in decision-making positions are naturally competent enough to make them.
The problems with absolute consensus are described perfectly by Frederic Laloux:
Consensus comes with another flaw. It dilutes responsibility. In many cases, nobody feels responsible for the final decision. The original proposer is often frustrated that the group watered down her idea beyond recognition; she might well be the last one to champion the decision made by the group. For that reason, many decisions never get implemented, or are done so only half-heartedly. If things don’t work out as planned, it’s unclear who is responsible for stepping in.
In searching for a solution to the problems mentioned above, the answer we find most effective we call ‘advice process’, by which we mean that any person can make almost any decision, but he or she must seek advice from the affected parties and other people with relevant expertise. The result, if successful, can alter the lives of not only all involved in the immediate creative process, but also can potentially have far-reaching societal effects. We believe Komodo is an example of this scenario.
In effect, teal organizations find a competitive advantage in markets where innovation is paramount and adaption is mandatory. Because team members are empowered in making decisions, they are able to use their creative energies to overcome a rapidly evolving landscape. This contrasts with traditional hierarchal systems, where decisions are made at the top by a few powerful, but distant leaders. The ground-level employees in hierarchal systems are the most connected to their customers, but are unable to effect change. Betwixt the two, middle managers must twist themselves into knots to please both upper-level managers and maintain leadership over an army of disempowered ground-level employees.
Teal Organizations have found the key to operate effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships, without the need for either hierarchy or consensus.
By using a teal organization structure as a part of our strategy, our Komodo team is able to efficiently and effectively navigate in the rapidly evolving landscape of blockchain technology.
Introducing Our Team
Before we go, we’d like to briefly introduce to you a few familiar members of our teal-organization style Komodo team. Here at the end we’ve included a few descriptions of our team members as provided by Lori, from Core Media, and edited for continuity by local chat channel user, siddhartha-komodo. We hope you find these helpful in getting to know us better, but don’t forget, it is much easier to get acquainted with us in our Slack chat channel, to which you are cordially invited.
A multitalented team member who juggles many jobs in the back halls of Komodo, polycryptoblog: manages the marketing efforts; shares his experience with blockchain technology to assist newcomers; and steps into other areas whenever the need arises. We could call him the mortar that holds the bricks of the company together. He has a unique ability to tread gently into activities where communication is sensitive and may be scrutinized, contributing especially to the crucial matter of legal compliance.
A highly skilled blockchain developer at the heart of Komodo, Jl777 has the respect of his peers, and they pledge their loyalty to his vision. His knowledge and expertise are arguably among the best in the industry. Everyone around here knows him to be a humble genius, but no one can get him to admit it. One unique attribute Jl777 carries is that if his team tries to place him on a pedestal for his skills, he quickly insists on bringing his team up to the pedestal with him. (This is one example of the horizontal structure mentioned in the Komodo work place: By lifting each other up and steering away from individual glory, the Komodo team finds a rewarding way to ensure all members achieve success.
A diplomatically skilled team member, Audo’s peers view him unanimously as a hard worker, a committed Komodo representative, and a talented organizer. He works out many snags that occur in a typical work day and exudes his trademark subtle charm when addressing large groups. Audo is also a talented wordsmith, and his years of experience in the industry give him a good eye for strategic marketing.
A public favorite and a cherished personality in the Komodo Slack chat channel, ptytrader can usually be found enthusiastically helping someone journey through the portals of Komodo. Accompanying ptytrader’s knowledge and wisdom is a rare and reliable personality type, being somehow able to: appease the disgruntled, fix what needs repairing, and share a laugh with his teammates, all at the same time.
A skilled and experienced developer, known for making his peers laugh, ca333 is usually light-hearted, but when a technical puzzle presents itself his laughter quiets and he becomes doggedly engaged in finding the perfect solution. His teammates call upon him often throughout the day for his experience in getting to the root cause of a technical issue. His skill in diagnosing and fixing problems is a huge blessing for the Komodo team. Ca333 is also highly regarded as a security expert, thwarting the onslaught of potential hackers, day and night.
We are always looking for talented people with an open mind. Don’t hesitate to get involved. Join our Slack and start contributing!