At Expedition Technology (EXP), we promote the idea that an individual’s career can be personally unique and fulfilling while aligning with company success. We believe a full and satisfying career consists of challenging and thought-provoking experiences, the development of skills that best reflect each individual’s definition of growth, and advancement as measured by successive increases in responsibility – all of which vary by employee and as a function of time. These are precisely the same ingredients a high-tech solution development company needs to thrive: solving hard problems, adapting to evolving customer requirements and technologies, building trust, and achieving robust growth and maturity over time.
Ironically, these vitally important aspects of employee development are difficult to implement properly in the traditional hierarchical corporate ladder structure used by most companies. A rigid organization constrains employees to their prior experience and expertise, and limits the communication of ideas and lessons learned – deficiencies that accumulate over time and often lead to anxiety-inducing organizational changes that happen too frequently. Perhaps worse, employees may be forced to make artificial and potentially career-limiting decisions dictated by the structure itself, instead of exploring interests by participating in a broad variety of activities throughout the company.
We have adopted a different organizational structure at EXP: the team of teams. We execute all our work as a team. Teams have a leader, but also self-organize and determine how best to accomplish their assigned task, including the necessary level of rigor, frequency of meetings, and which Agile approach (Scrum, Kanban, etc.) to follow. Some teams (the Engineering team, the Finance team, and the HR team, for example) remain in place for the long-term, while others (teams pursuing a new business opportunity or the team that developed our new web site, for instance) are more transient. Most employees participate in multiple teams simultaneously, providing a natural mechanism for cross-project and interdisciplinary communication across the organization.
The team of teams approach benefits the company and the employee. With more fluidity and a flatter corporate hierarchy, we are building a robust, dynamic organization that learns quickly and stands better suited to tackling novel problems in a rapidly changing technology and customer environment. Fewer entrenched lanes in the road make it easier for us to adapt and respond to the immediate needs of the business, scale over time as work conditions demand, and proactively anticipate and adjust to what we envision lies ahead.
Teams encourage individual growth by providing a venue for constant support and feedback. Junior team members become stronger by collaborating side-by-side with more experienced teammates, while more senior members grow by assuming more responsibility for the success of their less experienced peers. Because of the dynamic, overlapping, and multi-disciplinary nature of our teams, employees acquire visibility and insights that span the entire company, and forge deeper relationships with more of the team. They also gain the flexibility and autonomy to define how their careers will evolve because they have not been pigeon-holed within a rigid traditional ladder, but instead have had the chance to experiment and extend themselves beyond their comfort zones.
EXP may not have created the team of teams model, but we have wholeheartedly embraced it and sewn it into our DNA because it allows us to live our core values of collaboration, flexibility, autonomy, support, and learning every day. If you share these values and find the corporate ladder organizational structure no longer works for you, we’re hiring, and I encourage you to reach out to us to discuss the possibilities. We have a team for that.