Company: Morning Star
Crush Categories: Ownership; leadership philosophy; management style
What is ‘Culture Crush’ all about?
There are many great companies doing amazing things for their people, communities and beyond. Here, we’re highlighting those companies, teams, and ideas we’re in love with — to inspire and grow your workplace cultures!
What’s the common ingredient here? Oddly, tomatoes!?! Which brings us to the point of the article … and what we’re drooling about most at the moment … that being the workplace culture of California-based tomato paste company — Morning Star.
We first heard of Morning Star’s engaging culture and intriguing management style through TED & Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast episode, “A world without bosses.” While listening to the podcast, we were instantly in love with their self-management mentality and how it brings a refreshing, tangible sense of ownership, bucket loads of accountability, autonomy, and trust — topping it all off with sincere opportunities for growth. This intentional combo brings true freedom to ALL individuals on the team, regardless of working hard in a corner office or on the shop floor.
They lay it all out as the company mission statement. But it’s a bit more in-depth than that. Make sure you check out this interview on their self-management system, the nuances, and how they experience the greatest success with it.
Whether you prefer the idea of no bosses or everyone as their own boss, this unique approach to a flat hierarchy removes authority and traditional power dynamics. What we love most is the implication of individuals working ‘with’ one another verses ‘for’ another. Major crush brownie points from our perspective that they avoid the word “employee” — preferring the word “colleague” to imply being shoulder to shoulder and in partnership.
While we’re not much for strict rules, Morning Star’s two key principles are essential checkpoints for all to live & work by.
Just because there are no official bosses or managers, doesn’t mean leadership roles or structure are non-existent. Leadership roles are “cultivated and earned … based on competence, trust … and relationship building.” Read more in a short article or check out a full self-management white paper.
Who makes the decisions? The people best suited and committed to them. Where/how have they committed? The colleague letter of understanding — which is a voluntary, negotiated agreement outlining activities and processes for which one wants to be held responsible. It includes scope, definition of decision making for that person/role, and much much more. You can read that here.
If an agreement can’t be made, of course there are teams/people who step in. If you’re getting hung up on that being the essence of a “boss,” you’re missing the point.
Team dynamic & accountability — check! Now, what about individual needs & understanding? For this, Morning Star names five core crucial competencies for individual success:
Boss or no boss, what’s most important is determining what core values, expectations, and foundational understandings need to be communicated so the team develops & sustains confidence in each other.
Everything here from Morning Star and their self-management philosophy brings wonderful language and clarity in what we believe to our core works great for culture building — especially a small team like ours where autonomy and ‘moving out of the way’ are essential to a productive, fulfilled team.