The Netherlands. A small and flat country, but with so many inspiring companies with progressive ways of working. With Buurtzorg, Incentro and Schuberg Philis with their bossless operations. Or Springest, Bol.com and Viisi with their Holacracy implementations, to name a few. They all had their fair share of experiments. They are not an exception in The Netherlands anymore.
But there is one small company that I still would call an exception. It’s a full-service marketing agency in a small town called Maassluis. For them, full transparency is the basis. They are making decisions with the Advice process. They have unlimited holidays, and they set their own salary. And this is just the beginning. The company is called Keytoe. With over 45 colleagues, they are experimenting almost daily.
Every employee has the same ‘power’ as the founders. Everyone can change everything in the company, based on the Advice process. As long as they keep the following two principles in check:
- It’s better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.
- Is it good enough for now, and is it safe enough to try?
Set your own salary… using an app
At Keytoe, they decide upon each other’s salary as colleagues and have done for almost 3 years. At year-end, colleagues on the ‘salary committee’ (which is open to all), set a salary budget. They do this through the advice process, which means consulting with colleagues first. The budget depends on how well they did the last year. And they aim to raise existing salaries. When the budget is set, the committee allocates it according to performance. This already sounds great right? But it had some issues:
- People go up, but never down—even if they do worse than others who earn less.
- A colleague who wanted two long vacations, but requested his salary to go down, because he felt it was unfair despite the rule of unlimited vacation days within Keytoe.
- Why do we have employee contracts based on hours, or input, rather than output? So, if someone works 20 hours instead of 40, she will get half as much as a 40-hour person on the same income level. But, maybe the 20-hour colleague contributes more in less time.
Self-managed firing round – experiment?
And maybe the most progressive (and provocative) practice is the Self-managed firing round. But if the chips are down and the company has no other option: a firing round decided by colleagues. You can only do this with a lot of maturity in the organization and a positive, professional vibe among colleagues. It didn’t happen overnight. Learn more about the firing round in this practice:
99 problems but the boss ain’t one
When you are doing so many experiments, once and a while, something will go wrong. Or maybe pretty often. 99 times? Lennard wrote a really hands-on book about their journey, with the great title: 99 problems but the boss ain’t one.
Keytoe doesn’t want to be an exception.
Cedric (one of the founders) and Lennard founded a subsidiary with an awesome mission. They don’t want the way Keytoe is organized to be an exception anymore. That’s why they founded Keytoe Y. They are giving keynote speeches, are coaching leaders and teams, and are leading transformation projects.
It all sounds a bit extreme right. Can’t get your head around it? I can imagine. If you are around, make sure to give them a visit. They are giving so-called ‘safari’s’ for interested companies to inspire as many people as they possibly can.
Other practices from Keytoe
The practices we mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. They have got so many practices to share, it’s unbelievable. Here are a few of the others, Lennard shared with us: