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 that has become world famous for not having a boss, has in fact gone through a number of organisational structures, including the classic formula of having a single person running things.
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.
“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,” said Yassal Sundman, a developer at Crisp.
He and his colleagues quickly realised that many of the CEO’s responsibilities overlapped with their own, with the few roles that didn’t easily shareable among other employees. So they decided to give the boss-less experiment a try.
“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?’” Yassal told the BBC.
So far, the “no CEO” experiment has gone surprisingly well. But Crisp hopes that its success will inspire other companies to adopt the “Crisp DNA”.
Some CEOs, however, believe that the idea only works in small start-ups, because it would be too chaotic in large organisations.