Our principle of organization
There is no hierarchy at Optimism. We are all brewery workers. We are a team. We have priorities and responsibilities, not titles, jobs, roles or honorifics. We eschew the idea of management and embrace freedom and independence. When individuals share in the priorities of the organization, they can make great decisions on their own without someone telling them what to do. Hierarchies and specialization foster a "that's-not-my-job" mentality. We aren't out to raise robots. When everyone has an intimate knowledge of all the work that goes into making our beer and serving our customers (meaning they have actually walked in each others shoes), everyone can improve our process and product. We will respect each other more fully and be able to have each others back along the way. Co-workers can (because they know how to) and will (because they know the priorities of the company) jump in to help (because we respect each other).
By the strict definition, we are probably anarchists. Anarchy doesn't mean chaos; it simply means the absence of bureaucracy. We are more strongly committed to shared goals and letting workers work, than companies with rigid reporting structures. Anarchy gets a bad rap -- punk rock was so misunderstood -- because people think anarchists will just take advantage of each other, but the opposite is true, when there are shared priorities and responsiblities. Top down management doesn't work and isn't fun, so why bother. This isn't an easy model to adopt and we might have some growing pains as we implement it, because the world is setup for org charts, and silos and fiefdoms, but we reject it.
If anything, we put the people drinking our product at the top of our hierarchy. We all work for our customers; it is their money that writes everyones paychecks. While the people who are typically considered leaders in a business (owners, managers, "head this-or-that", etc.) are actually followers. We (the owners and people usually considered the bosses) are actually servants to our workers. We need you more than you need us, so we will treat you that way.
TODO: I'd love to put a graphic here of an upside down triangle.
What does this mean? Decisions are not top down, authoritarian or bureaucractic, and we should be called on it if they are. There are no memos or directives. We set goals and forecasts together and together find the best methods to achieve them. Everyone feels the responsibility and takes the responsibility, because we don't want to let each other down. Likewise, we set schedules and create a pay structure (no tipping and good benefits) where our employees can cooperate rather than compete. If you see something that needs to be done, you should feel like you can step in and do it. Sure, there are key responsiblities: someone can't just leave the front counter empty to go fill kegs, but you already know that because customers come first.