EKIPA REINVENTED

The story


Ekipa is a 100% self managed organization without any hierarchy. Everybody is an owner and everybody shares in our success and income. Everybody works on the things he wants to contribute and we don’t’ have fixed job descriptions. We co-work with our customers to help them bring entrepreneurship and agility to their organization. Together, we create the company we want Ekipa to be and we create better lives for ourselves and the people we serve. We’re co-workers.

Co-worker assumptions


People

  • People are systematically considered to be good (reliable, self-motivated, trustworthy, intelligent).
  • We’re all creative, thoughtful, trustworthy adults, capable of making important decisions;
  • We’re all accountable and responsible for our decisions and actions. Integrity: our word is our bond.
  • People are fallible, we make mistakes
  • We want to use our talents and skills to make a positive contribution to the organization and the world.
  • We bring positivity, play, joy and appreciation to our workplace.

Trust

  • We relate to one another with an assumption of positive intent.
  • Until we are proven wrong, trusting co-workers is our default means of engagement.
  • Freedom and accountability are two sides of the same coin.

Information and decision making

  • All business information is open to all.
  • Every one of us is able to handle difficult and sensitive news.
  • We believe in the power of collective intelligence. Nobody is as smart as everybody. Therefore all decisions will be made with the “advice process“.

Responsibility and accountability

  • We each have full responsibility for the organization. If we sense that something needs to happen, we have a duty to address it. it’s not acceptable to limit our concern to the remit of roles.
  • Everyone must be comfortable with holding others accountable to their commitments through feedback and respectful confrontation.

Growth and learning

  • Every problem is an invitation to learn and grow.
  • Failure is always a possibility if we strive for our purpose. We discuss our failures openly and learn from them. Hiding or neglecting to learn from failure is unacceptable.
  • Feedback and respectful confrontation are gifts we share to help one another grow.
  • We focus on strengths more than weaknesses, on opportunities more than on problems.

Co-workers are responsible for their own learning; you decide what trainings, books or other forms you need to buy; if needed, use the advice process to decide. You are also responsible for spending your time wisely; making learning a (visible) part of your weekly goals is appreciated. It’s a good practice to have a monthly or quarterly sharing session in which you share what you have learned with your co-workers.

Time is all we have in life. We aim to be as productive as possible while we work. We recognize that the only thing that counts is outcomes. We don’t get to work because we must work 9-5. We get to work to pursue our goals. One of the most important learning curves is becoming more effective, working on things that have the biggest impact on the outcomes. Many books and trainings have been developed about this topic.

Roles; no hierarchy, no job descriptions

All power is with the team. There is no formal hierarchy, we abandon the traditional system. There are no bosses to turn to. Teams decide what they focus on, how they achieve outcomes and how they solve problems.

Roles are fluid. We have no job descriptions. Every co-worker is free to create, modify or remove roles. If you think something adds value to your team’s purpose, you own it and move it forward. Roles are described in our roles document. Once a month, we organize an overall team retrospective. During this event, the teams discuss the current roles and propose additions or modifications. Each co-worker is responsible to clearly state the roles taken and make this visible in the roles document.

Decision making


Decisions are made based on the ‘advice process’. If you recognize a decision has to be made, you own that decision. We assume you can make most of the decisions by yourself. If you need help of other co-workers, ask them for advice, make your decision and move on.

The advice process

There are a number of steps in the advice process:

  • Someone notices a problem or opportunity and takes the initiative, or alerts someone better placed to do so.
  • Prior to a proposal, the decision-maker may seek input to sound out perspectives before proposing action.
  • The initiator makes a proposal and seeks advice from those affected or those with expertise.
  • Taking this advice into account, the decision-maker decides on an action and informs those who have given advice.

The team decision process

If the decision maker can’t reach a decision on his own to resolve important issues, a team meeting is organized with the following process: ​

  1. Team appoints facilitator
  2. Agenda and topics selected based on current issues
  3. Proposals for resolution are shared
  4. Review, improve and refine proposals
  5. Group makes a decision. Not consensus. Accepted is solution without anyone having a principled objection.

Guidelines:

The facilitator can’t make any statement suggestions or decision.

You can’t veto a solution just because you think another (or your own) solution is better.

The solution can be revisited at any point if new information is available.

If the team gets stuck, you can ask for an external facilitator

Meeting rhythm

To execute work, team(s) hold regular alignment meetings. All meetings are Mandatory; it’s beneficial for team alignment. We have found scrum to work well. In scrum, we have the following meetings:

  • Sprint planning: typically monday morning to decide what will be done during the week. Each team member creates or ‘takes’ tickets (from a Trello board).
  • Daily meeting: every day, we do a 5-15 minute skype call to align on 3 questions: what have you done yesterday, what are you working on today, do you have any ‘stucks’?
  • Demo: typically on friday afternoon; team members share what they have accomplished during the week
  • Retrospective: after the demo, people share what they believe went well or could be improved in the teamwork, process.

On a monthly basis, teams hold an overall retrospective in which they discuss what they can improve as a team. In this meeting, team members add/modify/remove roles.

Conflict resolution

  • It’s impossible to change other people. We can only change ourselves.
  • We take ownership for our thoughts, beliefs, words and actions.
  • We don’t spread rumors. We don’t talk behind someone’s back.
  • We resolve disagreement one-on-one and don’t drag other people into the problem.
  • We don’t blame others. When we feel like blaming, we take it as an invitation to reflect on how we might be part of the problem (and the solution).

If two co-workers have a conflict, there is nobody but yourselves to resolve the conflict. To reach a resolution, the following conflict resolution process is followed:

  1. the two co-workers sit together, discuss the conflict and try to find a resolution.
  2. if that doesn’t work, you seek advice from 1 trusted colleague
  3. if that doesn’t work, they elect a panel to help resolve it
  4. the CEO is asked to resolve it

In all cases, you are expected to keep the information to yourselves and not seek others to be on your side. Nobody should spread the information.

If you find it hard to open up to someone you have a conflict with, use the following three topics in your conversation with the person:

  1. Here is how I feel…
  2. Here is what I need…
  3. What do you need?

Income, profits and salary


We are a commercial company; our goal is to make profit. Teams are 100% responsible for generating profit. All financial information is open and accessible to everyone. Teams make informed decisions based on the financial information available.

At the end of each year, a % of the profits will be shared with the team(s). Teams decide themselves how to distribute the profit between themselves. During the profit sharing session, teams also decide on the salaries of its team members. As the self organized system is new, we will describe the process for profit sharing and salary increments at a later stage.