Each company I visit has its unique atmosphere and dynamics. One reminds of a meetup where people learn new things, share experience and drink beer. Other reminds of a hackaton where participants press forward to create and deploy a working product as fast as possible. Ministry is a family gathering where you are always welcomed, find support and be challenged at the same time.
Ministry is a web agency of roughly 50 people situated in Hamburg. It’s run by four partners and have one of the nicest atmospheres I’ve seen so far.
Ministry introduced the concept of X-teams a year ago and is in process of transformation since then. X-team term got its name from X-men who proved to be a highly effective team of people with very different skills, able to operate autonomously in constantly changing environment.
Each X-team is responsible for a wide range of activities: customer development and satisfaction, task planning and hiring new people to the team. In theory a team should also look for clients and define their salaries. In practice it’s easier said than done. Four partners tried to give too much freedom and responsibility at once and experienced high resistance and employees dissatisfaction. People were faced with tasks they didn’t have knowledge to deal with. So the partners backed up a little bit and now they try to implement new vision step by step.
When I asked why they went that direction David Cummins replied, “The important thing about making decisions is experience and knowledge, which are required to make a good decision. A person who has them is in many cases not a manager. I don’t even see it as giving away power, I see it as “it makes sense”.
I don’t see it as giving away power. I see it as “it makes sense”
Intrigued by the previous answer I asked how they see themselves — partners — in few years. “Totally don’t know. I hope that someday they won’t need us anymore. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like that, though. The things keep going this way. We see ourselves as a service team to help out, try not to solve every problem.”
Just today I’ve read a interesting post by Gianpiero Petriglieri. He tells the story of Ralph Stayer who tried to achieve the same. “For the last five years my own aspiration has been to eliminate my job by creating such a crowd of self-starting, problem-solving, responsibility-grabbing, independent thinkers that Johnsonville would run itself.”
Gianpiero writes that Ralph never succeeded. May be Ministry will be more lucky!