Bellevue, Washington, USA
1996 > present
“Hierarchies are great for maintaining predictability and repeatability. They simplify the planning and make it easier to control a large group of people from the top down, which is why military organizations rely on them so heavily. But when an entertainment company has spent the last decade that recruits the smartest talented people on Earth, tell them to sit down and do what they're told is to cancel 99 percent of their value. We want innovators, and this implies the establishment of an environment where they can flourish.
That's why Valve is horizontal. It's our way of saying that we have no management and no “leader”. We have a founder/president, but even he isn’t your boss. This company is yours: you have to bring opportunities and steer it away from risk. You have the power to give the green light to new projects. You have the power to declare a job done and ship the finished products.
Every company will tell you that "the customer comes first”, but here this statement has a weight. If you are thinking, "Wow, this all sounds like a lot of responsibility," you are right. And that's hiring a new person is absolutely most important that you will ever do at Valve. Whenever you interview a potential employee, you will need to ask not only if it is talented, but even if he or she is able to direct this company, because that's what he'll do. [...]
We hear that people at other companies devote a percentage of their time in self-directed projects. At Valve, this percentage is 100%."
/From the video game company Valve Software’s manual for new employees. You can see the whole manual here/