What does "No bosses" mean?

This week an Argentinian newspaper published an article about the way we organize ourselves here at 10Pines. We noticed that people over the internet had questions about our culture, so I’d like to try and clarify a little bit here.

What does "No bosses" mean?

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This week an Argentinian newspaper published an article about the way we organize ourselves here at 10Pines.

Summarizing the article a little bit:

  1. The company has no bosses, no CEOs, no hierarchy.
  2. 10Pines builds Software (it seems pretty obvious, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
  3. There is a group, called Roots, where all the decisions are taken — from “which computer should we use to work?” to “Should we work with this client?”.
  4. There is a monthly Roots Meeting, were we review the company status and take strategic decisions.
  5. All the Roots have access to the company numbers — how much we charge to the clients, how much we all earn, how much we pay for different services, etc.
  6. Periodically, a smaller group of Roots reviews all salaries, according to an internal scale we have.
  7. Once the fiscal year is closed, we share the company earnings between every Pine. If the company does well, everyone gets more money.

Of course, we went bananas and started following every social network comment about it, mostly because we all love what we do and how we do things here, and we’d love to see some other organizations doing some of the stuff we do.

The amazing thing with social networks (and the internet in general) is that it allows people to express their opinions super fast — write a ~140 chars comment, press Return and that’s it.

Reading those comments, we noticed there were some questions that appeared more often than others, so I’d like to try and clarify a little bit here.

Q: How come there are Roots and Non-Roots members? Isn’t that a different name for bosses?

A: From the 50 Pines currently working, 46 are Roots. It’s not that we don’t want people to be part of Roots. We let some time pass because we want to get to know newer employees.
At the end of the day, everyone ends up being a Root — unless they choose to leave the company before.

Q: Isn’t 10Pines a LLP-like company? How about the LLP members? Aren’t they the bosses?

A: No, they are just Root members with legal liability. We all know how much they earn yearly, and they work side by side with the rest of the company — We don’t have private offices, we have an open space where we all work together.

Q: But wait, there is a smaller group who decides the salaries for everyone. They are the bosses!

A: Well, no. There is a group who decides about the rates, that group is formed by Roots and the members change from one meeting to the other. This means that today I may be deciding over all the Pines salaries and 3 months later, someone else is gonna be doing the same.
And even if the people is the same in two or three meetings, what they do is to actually just propose the adjustment. At the end of the day, if all the Roots don’t agree with that proposition, we’ll need to work in a new one.

Q: Ok, no bosses. But that “scale” you mentioned earlier… that’s kinda a hierarchy.

A: Not quite.
The scale tries to weight the net worth of all the skills and responsibilites one Pine has. We don’t think that everyone should earn exactly the same, but they should earn according to the set of tech and non-tech skills they have, and how they use those skills in favoring 10Pines.
And yes, it is super hard to do… we try to keep the scale updated, but it is a static representation of something that is dynamic. There are times when things aren’t quite right as we’d like. But one thing is certain: we do our best to get to that desired state as soon as we can.

Q: Ok, no hierarchy. But isn’t everything super hard to do? How do you get things done?

A: No bosses is different than no leaders. We do think that leadership is key to get things done — we just don’t believe that we need to couple a Role to a certain person, and it certainly is not coupled to the position in our scale.
When we find the need, any Pine can emerge as a temporary leader (and notice that I said Pine and not Root), according to their expertise in a particular subject.

Q Got you. Thanks, man.

A: No problem. One last thing to consider, tho'.
Above all, we try to make sense, if that means anything to you.
We talk a lot and discuss a lot trying to reach consensus — with 50 people having an opinion over one subject, it’s not always easy :) But we firmly believe that, if we all take a decision together, that decision is the best we can take (way better than a decision that one person can take alone), and we are all going to work together backing that decision up.

I hope I’ve answered some of the questions that I’ve seen arise during these couple of days.
If something is not clear, please do ask. We love talking about 10Pines, and we are eager to share our culture, so we’ll try to do our best answering your questions, and maybe we’ll write another blogpost about it :)