Valve Software, the maker of computer game classics suck as Half Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead is a unique company that has adopted a very unordinary approach to management – there is none. Based in Bellevue, Washington, with over 300 employees, the company operates with no managers and is structured as organic and flat. To replace a hierarchy or codified divisions of labour, the company has implemented the use of a staff handbook that outlines the company’s values and operations.
The lack of management at Valve Software is a risky business strategy, which could lead to many problems for the company. Managers are often seen as leaders who staff aspire to and aim to impress. Without the motivation to achieve good results in order to either impress their managers or climb their way up the corporate ladder, it seems as though there is a huge opportunity for employees to not work to their full potential. This could lead to many unambitious staff members, which results in mediocre performance, and no competitive advantage.
With no managers, staff are not required to report to anyone. According to Valve, the accountability structure employed by countless successful organizations is self-serving and restrictive which limits the innovation potential of staff. The issue here is that with no one to report to, there is no way of tracking performance. It is expected that all employees should not require developmental programs, as staff should be self-improving.
Leadership is not commonly found in the Valve workplace, as there are no specific leaders. In circumstances which problems arise, decisions made as a group. This is a good way to include everyone’s opinion, but when the final decision must be made, there is no one person to have the last say. Without chosen leaders, this ‘flat’ organizational system is flawed and debatably ineffective.
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