Last week, I went with my wife and a couple of friends to wish another friend “Happy birthday.” We went to a honky-tonk-type bar in a part of town I have never been to before, The atmosphere was relaxed. The dance floor was filled every song with patrons dancing their hearts out to mostly country songs. The food was simple, The drinks were cold. The band was good. While it was not necessarily my type of bar, I can appreciate good music when I hear it. When I asked, “What is the name of these guys?” The only answer I received was, “They don’t have one!.”
Nobody quite knew why they did not have a name. The fact was nobody cared. The music was good to them, and that is all that mattered. I knew why. I thought about it the rest of the night.
Each of the individual members of the band were good musicians. They knew their parts well and enjoyed playing music. They play for the same pay at the same bar every week. So why is it that their band does not have a title, a name, something? The reason is they know who they are. They know what they do. They do not need recognition. They do not need something more. They purely love playing good music to people who will enjoy it week after week.
Would this not making an interesting concept for an organization? No titles, just people who enjoy doing the work and collaborating on the same level. No office politics or drama. No colleagues trying to shoot for a promotion that they do not deserve. No one begging for a fake trophy or recognition. Efforts being given to the team as a whole only. It is an interesting concept.
Below are three interesting and very different organizations with similar philosophies. I have taken an excerpt out of each article on the importance of no job titles to them.
- The Nerdery: “Our job titles are designed to empower us, not to limit us!” Bucklin wrote. “Put your business card on the desk in front of you…This card does not define you. You are a Co-President. You are bigger than your defined role, and you are much more than your job title. Play your part—transcend your job title, be a hero.”
- Valve: Titles specialize employees, and put them in a little plot where they’re allowed to work. Specialization sets employees against each other, carving out little kingdoms of responsibility. Anything outside their kingdom is beyond their purview, and anyone stepping within that kingdom is encroaching upon their pride and their job security.
- Sun Hydraulics; How does a company grow to that size with such an organization? By spending a lot of time hiring the right kind of collaborative idea-generating individual who doesn’t need to be told what to do.
What is your band? Could this approach work in your organization? Why or why not?