Building Tech-Focused Teal Organization - Founder Story

Building Tech-Focused Teal Organization - Founder Story

Radek Kamiński - March 7, 2022

nexocode is a software company that has evolved into a teal organization. We made the decision to become teal because we believe it is the best way to run a company and create an environment where people can thrive. Our founder’s story is one of transformation: from a classic IT software house to a teal organization that has a flat, transparent structure and focuses on people relationships.

In this article, I will explain why the company decided to become teal, what were the obstacles along the way, what are current processes and how the company structure is set, and how the company still changes and evolves towards becoming a better place to work.

A Classic Software House… And a Reality Check

nexocode started out as a classic software house. We were focused on delivering high-tech software solutions for our clients. Our business model was based on billable hours, and our success was measured by the number of projects we completed and the revenue we generated. Within the first two years of our operations, we finally had one major client that was bringing almost all of our revenue. We build a bigger team around this project to support our client. Unfortunately, our client got into financial problems and we lost the project. This was a reality check for us: we realized that we couldn’t continue relying on one client and needed to find new ways to grow our business. We also took a step back to identify what other things were not quite right. Looking at how our client worked on their side we identified some red flags of how not to run a company.

We knew we had to change if we wanted to create a better environment for our employees and attract top talent. And so in 2018, we began our journey towards becoming a teal organization.

Shift to Teal

We started looking for other ways to grow our business and stumbled upon the concept of the emerging organizational model of teal organizations. We did some research and found that creating organizations inspired by the teal paradigm may bring several benefits such as flat, transparent structures, human consciousness, and focus on people relationships. We also realized that some of these features were already part of our team, like open communication, agile approach, and self-management. We decided to make the shift to becoming a teal organization and started implementing some of the teal management practices.

The Obstacles Along the Way

The biggest obstacle we faced was resistance from within the company. Change is always difficult, especially when it comes to organizational change. We had to overcome resistance from employees who were comfortable with the status quo and did not want to change the way we worked. Each bigger strategic decision we made towards becoming teal was made cautiously and slowly. We took our time to debate each idea and without streamlined and replicable processes in place, some of the initial moves we made were applied not really in the teal manner.

Another obstacle was that we did not have a clear roadmap for how to become a teal organization. We had to experiment and learn as we went along. This meant that there were times when we made mistakes and had to course-correct.

Although we are still on our journey to becoming a fully-fledged teal organization, we have made significant progress. Our structure and processes support how we collaborate with each other and ultimately help us to grow.

Reinventing Organizations - Our Teal Values

We have identified the following teal values that guide our journey:

Self-Management

We believe that people are capable of managing their own work and taking responsibility for their results. We have a horizontal structure with no managers or hierarchical levels in that structure we create self-managed teams. We believe in servant-leadership where everyone can step up and lead when needed.

People First

We believe that people are our most valuable asset and we need to create an environment where they can thrive. We invest in building strong relationships with our clients, employees, and partners. We believe that trust is essential for collaboration and innovation.

Creativity and Personal Development

We believe that people should be given the space to be creative and to grow personally. We invest in our employees’ professional development and encourage them to pursue their passions.

Ownership

We believe that people should take ownership of their work and be empowered to make decisions. We trust our employees to do their best work and support them in taking risks. We encourage our employees to be proactive. We believe that everyone has the potential to make a positive impact on the company.

Transparency

We believe in sharing information openly and transparently so that everyone can make informed decisions. We operate with a high level of transparency, which enables trust within the company and creates an open communication culture. We communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully with each other to build trust and collaboration.

Evolutionary Purpose

We believe that organizations should have a deeper sense and a purpose that goes beyond profit. We strive to create a positive impact on our employees by creating a sustainable workplace and making a difference through socially responsible work.

These teal values guide everything we do at nexocode and help us move closer to our goal of becoming an organization based on teal culture.

How Teal Impacts Our Organization Structure and Practices

Advice Process for Streamlined Decision-Making

In order to make decisions in a teal way, we have implemented an advice process. This process is based on the idea that everyone in the company can make a binding decision and that everybody should have a say in decisions that affect them. The advice process is used for all major decisions, such as changes to our organizational structure or new initiatives.

Anyone in the company can submit their ideas and proposals. The first step of the advice process is to raise your idea or proposal to your peers, especially to those who are affected by the change or have knowledge on a particular subject. Offline or online you gather a team (you need at least 2 advisors) to discuss and evaluate the proposal. After that, you as the owner of the original idea make an informed decision based on the collective intelligence gathered through the advice process on how to proceed with your proposal. You’re also responsible for announcing your decision to others and for owning the execution of your idea. This process is transparent so that everyone understands the rationale for each decision and is based on self-management for ownership.

The advice process relies on self-organization and transparency and it has helped us to make the decision-making process fast and streamlined, without communication silos. Of course, bigger company-wide decisions take longer debates and iterations to come to a final decision that is well designed through the consulting process, but we’ve found that the process works well for us.

Open Communication

In order to have a teal organization, it is important to have an open communication culture. We believe that honest and respectful communication is essential for building trust and collaboration. We encourage people to communicate openly with each other, which enables us to make informed decisions and stay aligned with our company values.

We use different channels for communication, such as Slack or Google Meet, and another set of tools to track our progress and processes, via ClickUp and Jira. We adjust working with tools to make them really work for us. You can trust me that our communication culture on Slack deserves a whole separate blog post. We also have regular monthly face-to-face meetings, both one-on-one and in team meetings. We believe that it is important to have a mix of both online and offline communication in order to create a strong connection between our employees.

Transparent Finances and Open Salaries Program

We also believe in financial transparency and operate with open finances. This means that we share our company’s financials openly with everyone in the company. We also have an open salaries program, which means that employees can see how their salary compares to others in the company.

Financial transparency and open salaries help us to build trust within the company and create a sense of fairness. It is important for us to be transparent about our finances so that everyone can understand how the company is doing and make informed decisions about the future of nexocode.

Our employees set their own salaries, with guidance from their peers. Our teams (software engineering, product management, product design, sales, and people ops) worked hard to create competencies matrixes and compensations levels. These are living and changing organisms, and it is always the employee’s final decision to decide what his salary should be. We believe that this system is fairer and leads to more accurate salaries, as employees are able to compare their own salary to others in the company and on the market and know what to do to reach higher incomes.

As each team member’s work impacts the final success of the company we should all get part of this success. This is why at nexocode, our employees have additional income from company profits. We believe that this system motivates our employees to work harder and contribute more to the company, as they know that they will be rewarded for their efforts.

Feedback and Peer Reviews

We also believe in giving and receiving feedback openly. We have a system of peer reviews, which means that employees can give feedback to their peers on a regular basis. This helps us to build trust and collaboration within the company.

Giving and receiving feedback daily is an important part of our culture and helps us to constantly improve ourselves and build a personal connection. Peer reviews help us to identify areas where we need to improve and give us actionable steps to do so. We provide not only feedback but also guidance so that our employees can continue to grow and develop.

Nurturing Personal Development

Personal development is important to us because we believe that it leads to better employees and a better company. We want our employees to be constantly learning and growing so that they can contribute more to nexocode. This is why we introduced New Horizons Program - each employee gets 24 days a year for self-development with peer support. Our colleagues are using it to dig deeper into novel technologies or solutions or to build open-source projects in a safe environment that supports experimentation and learning.

We believe in knowledge sharing, and we constantly support our employees who want to share their know-how with the community by giving them space to write blog posts (check our blog and for engineering insights our Zero Legacy article series from nexocode developers), prepare tech talks, run workshops, and present at conferences. We have proofreaders that will support you in copy preparations and public-speaking trainers that will prepare you to go on a stage. However you would like to achieve your personal development goals, we’ll support you all the way.

Nexocode team members sharing their knowledge at various conferences. We’ve been speaking on software architecture, testing, product design and of course teal organizations.

Nexocode team members sharing their knowledge at various conferences. We've been speaking on software architecture, testing, product design and of course teal organizations.

We believe that by nurturing human development, we are not only helping our employees to grow as individuals, but we are also making nexocode a better place to work.

Less Focus On Formal Roles and Job Descriptions

At nexocode, we believe that formal roles and job descriptions are not as important as the work that you do. This is because we believe that everyone is capable of doing great work, regardless of their formal role or job description. Each person can engage in activities from other departments and contribute their skills and knowledge to the company.

We believe that by focusing on the work itself, rather than on formal roles and job descriptions, we are able to get the best out of our employees and make nexocode a better place to work. We want to create a space where you can evolve in directions you really wish to, not through a strict career ladder.

Working Hours & Flexibility

We believe that employees should have the freedom to choose when and how they work. We, therefore, have a flexible working hours policy, which means that employees can start and finish their work whenever they want.

We believe that by giving our employees the freedom to choose when and how they work, we are creating a more productive and happier workforce. We want our employees to feel like they have control over their own time, and we believe that this will lead to a better work-life balance for everyone.

We have a remote-first working policy, which means that all of our employees can work from wherever they want. Still, we do have an office where we invite our team members to come whenever they want to or need to. We believe that this helps to create a more productive workforce.

Building Peer Relationships

We believe that peer relationships are the key to a successful and happy workplace. We, therefore, focus on building strong relationships between our employees. We sync daily for a quick meeting to discuss what’s going on (no work-related talk policy).

Each month we held monthly teal meetings on-site in our Kraków office, the first part is focused on company matters and discussion, whilst the second is solely focused on integration and building relationships. We have regular team-building activities and workshops, which help to bring our employees closer together and build trust within the team. We already went together through cooking classes, wine tasting, ceramic workshops, coffee brewing, public speaking training, mindfulness training, and other fun activities. Each teal meeting ends with a dinner, so we can all relax and integrate with each other better in a casual setting.

Building inner wholeness through classes and workshops we attend together for fun and relationship building - we already took part in through cooking classes, wine tasting, ceramic workshops, coffee brewing, public speaking training, mindfulness training, and other fun activities

Building inner wholeness through classes and workshops we attend together for fun and relationship building - we already took part in through cooking classes, wine tasting, ceramic workshops, coffee brewing, public speaking training, mindfulness training, and other fun activities.

We believe that by building strong relationships between our employees, we are creating a more productive and happier workplace. We want our employees to feel like they can trust their colleagues and rely on them for support. This helps to create a positive work environment where everyone feels comfortable working together.

Where Are We Now? The Evolutionary Purpose of Teal Organizations

nexocode has been on a journey to become a teal organization for several years now. We made the decision to become teal in 2018 because we believe it is the best way to run a company and create an environment where people can thrive. Our current processes are working well but we still put a lot of effort to support our teal values and apply teal practices in our daily work.

The company still changes and evolves towards becoming a better place to work. We are constantly trying new things and learning from our mistakes. This is an ongoing process, and there is no right or wrong way to do it - the key is to keep learning and evolving as a company. As a team, we decided to focus on sustainable growth by hiring talented people that match our culture and can build long-term relationships with the whole team. The teal paradigm is still relatively new, but we believe that it is the future of work.

Teal is a Journey, Not a Destination

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a teal company. Every company is different, and each one is a living entity that will have its own journey towards becoming teal. The important thing is that the journey is ongoing and that companies are always looking for ways to improve their workplace culture and become more sustainable.

If you’re interested in learning more about teal organizations, or want to hear the story of nexocode, you can head over to Dev Story Podcast from our team to get to know us even better.

We hope that by reading this, you have a better understanding of why we chose to become an evolutionary teal organization. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! And if you feel like nexocode would be a good place for you - apply!

About the author

Radek Kamiński

Radek Kamiński

Company Lead (broadly known as CEO)

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Radek is a software industry veteran with over 15 years of experience in the IT field. He has excellent knowledge and expertise in agile software development methods. Radek focuses on building and nurturing self-organizing teams that focus on AI and Big Data solutions.
Personal experiences have encouraged him to implement transparency, open communication, shared responsibility, and a flat organizational structure at nexocode. A servant leader by nature, he's always keen to learn from others - often exchanging opinions with them on how things can be better done!

Have some questions?

We’re happy to answer! You can directly
contact Jarek, who’s got all the info you may need.

Jarek Jarzębowski
People & Culture Lead

jarek.jarzebowski@nexocode.com

ASK JAREK on SLACK

This article is a part of

Running Teal
6 articles

Running Teal

Take an insider's look into nexocode organization culture and our path towards the teal structure. We're committed to fostering growth and open communication with all employees so that everyone feels like they belong and can thrive in their work environment.

Follow our article series to discover how our teal company operates within a flat structure based on peer relationships, transparency, ownership, and trust.

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