By Kevin Meyer
A couple years ago I told you about a rather unique manufacturing company in Florida where no one had job titles. That is, except for the “plant manager”… the guy in charge of watering the plants.
manifolds and values, profitable since it was started in 1970, six
plants around the world employing roughly a thousand people.
What's unusual about that? How about this:
- There is no organization chart
- There are no job titles or job descriptions
- No performance criteria
- No bonuses and no perks
- No regularly scheduled meetings
- No approval levels for capital or expense spending
- No goals
- No offices or high-walled cubicles
- If the peers accept the idea, then "management" is presumed to accept it – hence the need for very little management
- Every employee is simply expected to figure out where they fit
Organizations that unique, especially ones that unique that thrive, are a rare breed. Our friend and author of In Pursuit of Elegance, Matthew E. May, has stumbled on another: FAVI. Thanks to regular reader Peter from Denmark for bringing this to my attention.
So how are they “organized?”
This places accountability where it belongs.
A traditionalist would run away in fear… or at least bring up all the reasons why it couldn’t work. Duplication of resources, abdication of economies of scale… I can hear the arguments now. But guess what. It does work.
Good point, and I’ll stay away from exploring that concept for now except to ask how many of us are measuring something irrelevant.
The larger point is to take a look at how your organization, and especially the structure and hierarchy, align to presumably (although I probably shouldn’t be so presumptuous) to create customer value. As Mr Zobrist realized, value flow may be completely unrelated to traditional functions, information flow, and reserved parking spots. In fact, as many of us in the lean world have realized, organization structures not aligned to the value creation process can remove considerable value themselves.
Jamie Flinchbaugh says
I hate job titles. I always tried to avoid them personally. I think the sheer act of assigning a job title is to impart limitations of scope and interest. Even if you aren’t ready to get rid of all the rest of the stuff, getting rid of job titles should be pretty easy.