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Blinkracy

Make Your Company Management-Free and 100% Results-Oriented

By Ben Hughes and Sebastian Klein
12-minute read
Audio available
Blinkracy by Ben Hughes and Sebastian Klein

Blinkracy (2015) is all about an innovative organizational approach based on empowering employees and eliminating the need for managers. With insights from the Berlin-based startup Blinkist, which restructured its own workplace using this model, these blinks describe how you can implement it at your own firm.

  • Executives who want their business to be more organic and flexible
  • Startup founders who want to get things right from the very beginning
  • Consultants interested in how to best organize a workplace in the modern business landscape

Sebastian Klein is co-founder of, and Editor-in-Chief at Blinkist. He was formerly a consultant to the Boston Consulting Group and a serial entrepreneur. He specializes in knife skills and once rode a bicycle across Kuala Lumpur with no handlebars.

Ben Hughes is the Head of Content at Blinkist. He is a former management consultant, with expertise in corporate strategy and psychology. In 2013, Finland Licorice Weekly named him in their “Top 50” and he currently holds the record for most comments on a Google Doc, an incredible 439 comments on just three pages.

Blinkist is a Berlin startup specializing in distilling complex concepts from great books into easy-to-understand fifteen-minute packs.

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Blinkracy

By Ben Hughes and Sebastian Klein
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Blinkracy by Ben Hughes and Sebastian Klein
Synopsis

Blinkracy (2015) is all about an innovative organizational approach based on empowering employees and eliminating the need for managers. With insights from the Berlin-based startup Blinkist, which restructured its own workplace using this model, these blinks describe how you can implement it at your own firm.

Key idea 1 of 7

Classic command and control organizations are antiquated, dysfunctional and ineffective.

Like most companies in the world, your workplace is probably organized according to a rigid hierarchy: Employees do whatever their bosses tell them. In turn, these bosses have their own bosses. So in effect, mandates from the highest tiers of management trickle down to each employee.

This top-down hierarchy is called command and control (C&C), and it’s based on the antiquated idea that companies work best when a hoard of uneducated minions carries out the orders of one genius leader (like Rockefeller or Vanderbilt). Companies have been organized in the same non-motivating way ever since the coal mines and factories of the Industrial Revolution.

But today, these old business structures don’t suit the fast-changing business landscape. Why fast-changing? Well, a Yale University study showed that the average American company’s lifespan has decreased from 67 years to a trifling 15.

That means businesses have to be capable of adapting – and quickly!

Eastman Kodak learned this lesson the hard way: The iconic photography company, founded in the late 19th century, the heyday of C&C, didn’t respond fast enough to the rise of digital cameras in the 1990s. And as a result, they filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

As you can see, rigidity is a major disadvantage of C&C. But it’s not the only one! Poor talent management and poisonous office politics also undermine these kinds of hierarchical workplaces.

Why?

Well, in C&C systems, a few managers have the authority to hire and fire at will. So people often get promoted not because of merit but because they play golf with the boss.

To be successful, however, organizations need to have the most capable and skillful people filling each role. And that’s why having a culture of promotions based on connections – not skills – damages a company’s prospects.

Although C&C is a dysfunctional system, it’s still the dominant way of organizing the workplace. So is it any wonder that 71 percent of American employees dislike their jobs?

There has to be a better way of organizing companies without descending into anarchy.

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