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Flip top-down management culture on its head

Tim Mara The Hoarding

If you set a clear purpose and cultivate an environment of innovation and collaboration, then you can have a whole company of CEOs, says Micha Kaufman, writing for Entrepreneur.

How you organise and run your business and who you choose to do what are the key elements that determine the destiny of your company. When you’re starting out, you probably believe that adopting a conventional top-down management style will lay the best foundations.

Kaufman, CEO of Fiverr, a global online marketplace offering freelance tasks and services, argues that this traditional arrangement might not be the right answer for your firm.


He put that theory to the test in the company he co-founded and discovered big drawbacks in the top-down approach:

1) Innovation is stunted. Always being expected to follow one person’s instructions allows no space for outside-the-box thinking, which leads to innovation.

2) Accountability is reduced. Simply executing someone else’s idea discourages accountability and responsibility among team members.

3) Tunnel vision prevails. Employees don’t consider the bigger picture when focusing on a single specific problem.

4) Ownership goes unshared. Whether it succeeds or fails, ownership of any initiative will not extend beyond its creator.

“If a business is hiring the right people, contributions should come from every member of a team. So, why would an organisation limit its own collective mind power through a system of direct action?” asks Kaufman.

His advice is to experiment to find a model that works for your particular business. In Fiverr’s case the culture that evolved sees management as a guiding light rather than as a taskmaster.


“As a data-driven company, team members could recognise where inefficiencies existed, come up with potential solutions and hypothesise on the target impact of their new solutions, implement an experiment and extract the right signals to decide if they pursue the direction.”

Here are some of his tips on how you can make that model work for your company:

1) Create a North Star. Put a framework in place pointing your teams in the same direction and making priorities crystal clear. The fabric of Fiverr, for example, is all about the low-friction experience.

2) Empower your teams. Make it their job to work together to problem solve and push the company forward.

3) Provide resources and feedback. Your role as manager is to support implementation of the team’s ideas, to analyse outcomes and encourage higher goals.

4) Establish what is effective. Once you know what works, be resolute about it so everyone understands the company culture.

5) Don’t be afraid to change. Especially in a newly established business, priorities will alter over time. Managers need to keep defining their guiding framework and ensure the message is shared.

Only you can determine whether this kind of synergistic culture would work in your company, but there’s no doubt it has been a huge success at Fiverr.

“The impact on our company culture cannot be understated,” concludes Kaufman. “Many hands aren’t just working collaboratively, they’re all strategically pulling on the same rope to derive a larger outcome.”

Source Article: How Fiverr’s Culture Created A Company Of CEOs
Author(s): Micha Kaufman
Publisher: Entrepreneur