One of the purposes of heirarchical structures seem to be to just divide people up into smaller working groups for this same purpose. I wonder if its possible to subdivide a company to get this benefit while keeping it flat. For example, maybe the company consists of 30 fixed groups of people, and those groups coordinate with each other via some type of structured interface without heirarchy... Or maybe having a heirarchy is ok at that level of abstraction.
I like this term, it really packs a lot of meaning into two words. Original?
But adding hardware to the mix changes things. "When it's done" no longer works as well as with software.
Plus, the other big companies in Seattle are hyper-political, and train people to be that way. Hire someone like that into an egalitarian structure that is cracking at the seams (because of size), and it's like a wolf among sheep...
If there's no overt structure there is politics (ex Valve person told me that).
If nobody was being paid, nobody had to be fired, and nobody was worried about money, their system probably wouldn't give rise to any cliques, barons, and so on - simply because there would be no need for this sort of defensive politics.
As someone who really liked the ideals and concepts of the Valve handbook but struggled to see how to extend them to my own (hierarchical) workplace, I found it quite enlightening.