30 Signs of Self Organizing Culture

Random Observation/Comment #605: A lot of unlearning from the “traditional” hierarchy culture is necessary to fully grasp the self-organizing/decentralized company operational efficiency.

Why this list?

My unofficial introduction to ConsenSys was through a “self-organizing” workshop between thought leaders and peers. We discussed less about a self management philosophy and more about good practices to share in the community.

Coming from a more-or-less hierarchical start-up mindset, my approach to a new working philosophy immediately had me ask about identity, accountability, and group goals. I’d come to find that this approach to joining a company is similar to self-management items, but in a different attitude.

  • Identity
    • Where do I fit in within the organization?
    • Who do I work for?
    • Is there a successful product or project I can associate myself with?
  • Accountability
    • Who do I trust in the team to help me?
    • How do I trust they’ll deliver on their end of the partnership?
    • Who can I speak with if there’s need for escalation?
  • Group Goals
    • How are our performances measured?
    • How’s the team valued with respect to the rest of the organization?
    • What’s our true North?

One of the problems with these set of questions and approach, which was ingrained through “big corporate structure” is what we embody with corporate politics. We have learned to manage upwards and scan the landscape for allies so our asses are covered or team and budget are justified.

In the self organization paradigm, a lot more of the hard work comes from attracting, hiring, and onboarding the right mindset and smart people that are motivated by passion and not money or prestige. If you hire people who leave their ego at the door and just get shit done, you may not need a carrot or a stick – just a problem to solve or a gap that needs filling.

Does this work? Myself and 100+ others thinks so: 100 Reasons Why Working at Consensys is Awesome

To build upon the already fantastic set of quotes, this is my personal list of observations:

  1. Ecosystem – We’re all a big beehive of activity and overlapping roles
  2. Trust – Your family has your back and will help
  3. Openness – Share first and keep things open source with working drafts
  4. Curiosity – Stay hungry. If you want to dive deep, you’ll be able to find everything and anything you’re interested in. Just ask!
  5. Collaboration – The whole ecosystem of teams with open initiatives means a lot of cross-team efforts. You’re open to following all interests (but don’t overcommit)!
  6. Self-Allocation / Self-Direction – We all want to do everything, but sadly cannot. You what you’ve committed to working on and deliver on your promises
  7. Responsible / Accountable – Given some freedom of allocation, make sure any contributions don’t hinder core deliverables
  8. Self-Agency / Autonomy – The “working freedom” people are given to choosing our own working hours and specific activities is a combination of trust and respect for others
  9. Alignment – There’s still a core team. Be sure to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it is so you continue to add value.
  10. Gratitude – Separate channels are dedicated for thanking each other for their help and contributions
  11. Identity / Integrity – Building your personal profile and open door policy of interaction. I’ve personally provided my previous experiences and areas of expertise so I can specifically contribute ideas in sectors and regions
  12. Friendliness – Since it’s remote-first, the office location is sometimes more of a coffee chat. Also, with new joiners weekly, it’s easy to have collaboration
  13. Enthusiasm / Positive Energy – All the above doesn’t seem possible without a lot of passionate individuals exuding altruism and genuine interest
  14. Diversity – Not only by experience and backgrounds, but also by interests and ideas
  15. Nonconformity / Open minded – Everyone that has joined seems to have a flare of entrepreneurship and uniqueness. We don’t want to do things the old fashion way. Work and Life doesn’t need to be split. Careers are non-linear.
  16. Perseverance – Just because we don’t need to work normal hours, doesn’t mean we don’t work hard. I think it’s good to jump in the deep end with immersion and use all resources to deliver.
  17. Nonviolent Communication – There’s obviously a high level of communication necessary to make this all work and it’s clear that the company values levels of sensitivity when dealing with peers and clients
  18. Foundational Expectations – Onboarding spent a lot of time on the work culture and expectations for all employees before they breakout into their respective circles.
  19. Shoulders – Open community always available to share your experiences and feedback
  20. Decentralization – Got this far without using this buzzword. Decentralization does not mean disorganization. There’s plenty of self-organized decentralized activities contributed by multiple groups without an official lead.
  21. Constitutions – When any group forms, there seems to be a democratized foundation and explicit guidelines to the purpose, structure, and terms of engagement.
  22. Self-aware / Self-policing Ecosystem – Since the organization’s operational efficiency and policies are open to review, all components of the system are transparently run and will evolve
  23. Agile – Fail Fast and Early, and build your team rapport through consistent retros and reusable libraries
  24. No top-down coercion – Since you’re treated like an adult, you’ll execute based on your own integrity rather than a paycheck or job security
  25. No egos – Assume everyone is smart and capable. It’s more important to listen and solve the problem together than prove yourself
  26. Growth – Grow your own skills and perspectives, and also your relationship with the team
  27. Startup incubator mentality – It feels a lot more like a fluid co-advisory of expertise filling out the ecosystem
  28. Empowerment – I feel everyone is a content creator and therefore contributor to multiple visions and sandboxes
  29. Meaningful Work – I think we’re changing the world and fully utilizing technology to redesign/rethink architectures so we’re not just building patchy fixes to broken systems.
  30. Supported People Supports the Purpose – The purpose is the people.

~See Lemons Meshy