Gautam Ghosh has an interesting post about a company that seems chaotic, yet has a good deal of success.
Imagine a company where employees set their own hours; where there are no offices, no job titles, no business plans; where employees get to endorse or veto any new venture; where kids are encouraged to run the halls; and where the CEO lets other people make nearly all the decisions. This company-Semco-actually exists, and despite a seeming recipe for chaos, its revenues have grown from $35 million to $160 million in the last six years. It has virtually no staff turnover, and there are no signs that its growth will stop any time soon.
How did Semco become wildly successful despite breaking many of the commonly accepted laws of business?
I have an answer. Everyone can't do this because it requires hiring the best people available. There are some people who would never steal, even if given a chance. Such people can work in a company where there are no controls to prevent stealing. Similarly, there are some people who will always prioritize things properly and always get their work done, even when the work environment is free and chaotic. How do you manage chaos? You hire people such that the chaos manages itself. But as soon as HR lets down the guard, the free riding begins.