There’s no one running this 40-person company…and it’s likely to stay that way

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Ask to meet the chief executive of the Swedish software consultancy firm Crisp and you’ll be waiting for a while. Crisp has no CEO. In fact, the company has no leader at all.

Three years ago, the company’s 40-person staff came to the conclusion that a CEO’s duties would overlap with too many others and so they decided not to pursue a leader. Instead, the company holds four-day meetings for its staff about two to three times a year to make the big strategic decisions. Otherwise, according to this report from, all other decisions are left up to the employees. A board of directors (required by Swedish law) is in place to arbitrate if needed.

The management structure seems to be working. An organizational consultant interviewed in the BBC report says that workers are more motivated and that decisions can be made faster. “If you want to get something done, you stand up and start driving that,” he says.

What if there’s a problem? Like any family (except mine) the workers understand not to “mess up the house,” and if a mistake is made “you can explain why it is that you thought this was a good way, and actually you might get everybody else to think the same way,” an employee at the company told BBC.

Less red tape, quicker decisions and a more familial culture is certainly an interesting corporate model.  But the leader-less approach, as you can imagine, has its critics.  “You’ve got to have the accountability, because if people in your organization don’t know what they’re doing and how it affects the customers, then you’ve got a disconnect problem,” Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise told the BBC.


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