The Most Free Company

Who am I  

  • Voluntaryist who strongly respects NAP (Non Aggression Principle)
  • Long time IT security specialist
  • Founder of IT security company Nethemba focused on ethical hacking and penetration testing
  • Founder of the initiative www.nepracujemeprestat.sk ("we do not work for the government") because of many ethical and economical reasons
  • Co-founder of hackerspaces in Bratislava (Progressbar) and Prague (Paralelni Polis)
  • Cryptoanarchist with a belief that crypto technologies can significantly enhance our freedom

History 

  • I started my company almost 8 years ago
  • The goal was to
    • hire the best security experts
    • maximize their motivation to do their job as best as possible
    • follow the deadlines
    • provide the highest quality results for our customers
  • I thought of the best way on how to achieve this goal with a limited budget

Problems of a traditional consulting company

  • Hierarchical structure with master - slave relationships
  • A coercive delegation of work/projects ('you have to accept your work because I am your boss') which may be highly demotivating for skilled and intelligent people. Either they are willing to stay in the company asking for too high salaries, or they just quit
  • You are forced to be in the office during traditional working time (9:00-17:00) which often means most employees are not willing to work outside of hours
  • Fluctuation of employees which can be really expensive (training new people, again and again takes a lot of money and time)
  • Mandatory sharing of the same office space all the time may cause conflicts between colleagues

6 pillars of the most free company

  1. Decentralization
  2. Internal competition
  3. Voluntaryism
  4. Consistency
  5. Fairness
  6. Strong ethical rules

Decentralization 

  • Master-slave hierarchy in the company does not work for more intelligent and skilled people
  • Consider the company as a human body - every human organ is important and has to cooperate with others
  • Peer to peer structure is usually the most effective (we are decentralized and operate throughout various places in Slovakia, Czech Republic and the UK)
  • Personal meeting / working places in Bratislava / Prague in case we want to meet personally
  • Mostly remote communication over a number of channels (encrypted messages, calls, e-mails, instant communication, internal wiki)
  • Meetings at teambuilding events and security & hackers' conferences

Internal Competition

  • There are two ways of delegating projects:
    1. Direct (traditional - the employee receives orders from his boss in a directive way, it does not usually matter if he likes it or not)
    2. Voluntary (our approach - everyone can choose their projects voluntarily and if more colleagues are interested in the same project, they have to negotiate with each other)
  • The final candidate for the job is chosen depending on multiple criteria (how soon he is able to accept the project, how fitting his skillset is for the project, what his reputation is in association with his recent projects)
  • Everyone can choose the projects according to his needs and free time

Internal Competition II

  • Problem: No one is willing to accept a given project
  • Solution: Let's look at the reason: Is it low paid? Do we have bad experiences with the customer? Or something else?
  • If the price is a problem for our colleagues, we contact our customer back and ask him if he is willing to accept a price X% higher than the original one. The customer can freely decide to the accept this or not
  • Final goal: All relationships (our colleagues vs company, company vs customers) are always mutually voluntary
  • This is also an incentive for our colleagues to learn new technology/skills as they are able to accept new technology projects and have less competition

Voluntaryism 

  • In order to provide the highest quality and preserve the motivation, mutually voluntary relationships are extremely important
  • If you force people to do a project they do not like, it can have a negative impact on the quality of the project and motivation can also be lost easily
  • Sometimes however, no one is willing to accept the project and we have to reject the customer. It does not happen often, but it happens.
  • As the quality of our services and customer satisfaction matters to us, we do not accept any projects no one is willing to do voluntarily (because of a number of reasons)

Consistency 

  • Be consistent towards your colleagues 
  • Define the clear rules and apply them to everybody (regarding deadlines, project rewards, etc). Do not change them often.
  • Do not make exceptions as they are not really necessary
  • Consistency leads to respect, the opposite - inconsistency leads to a reputation loss and untrustworthiness

Fairness 

  • Fixed salaries are not fair - people should be paid for their real productivity
  • More efficient and skilled people should certainly earn more (expect that someone can be even 10x more effective than someone else and therefore deserves a 10x higher salary) 
  • In our company everybody is paid per project according to clear and open rewards rules (except for marketing where I am unable to make a proper financial mapping for the projects) 
  • No one has ever complained he is underpaid (or overpaid :-) 

Fairness II 

  • Our reward model is open and the same for all colleagues (this may vary depending on the type of the business):
    • 10% company profit
    • 10% reward for a business opportunity (sales)
    • 10% reward for a project management
    • 10% reward for all presales activities & quality assurance
    • 30% company overhead (all company expenses like office rental, accounting, marketing, legal services, server housing, phones, Internet, security certifications, team buildings etc)
    • 30% reward for testers /consultants
  • Everyone can be involved in multiple parts of a project and earn multiple rewards

Strong ethical rules 

  • Being ethical does not necessary mean being legal
  • Many companies are doing completely legal business, but not with 100% ethical manners (especially the Slovak IT business which is ethically deformed and where many unethical practices are still tolerated)
  • We have strict ethical rules towards our customers (we do not work for the government/ state institutions), our partners/contractors have to follow our ethical rules, the same goes for our employees
  • It may look a bit strange sometimes when we reject the big customers who are well accepted by all other companies just because of our strong ethical reasons
  • Our reputation is the most important and we reject all unethical, risky business behavior

What may you lose in the most free company?

  • Some customers that do not match our ethical rules or cannot be served by our people voluntarily
  • Fixed monthly salary (your income may vary depending on customer's demands - on the other hand, this may be an economical incentive for experts to extend their expertise/skills to accept more projects)

What you gain in the most free company 

  • Freedom to choose any project you want
  • Freedom to work anytime you want
  • Freedom to work remotely or onsite (we charge our customers 30% more for onsite projects, similarly, our people earn 30% more for these projects)
  • Freedom to take your vacation whenever you want for how many days you wish
  • Freedom to work alone or with your colleagues if they want
  • No employee fluctuation (we practically have no people who voluntarily quit our company)

Love freedom? 

 

Join us!

 

 

jobs@nethemba.com

The Most Free Company

By Pavol Luptak

The Most Free Company

Why freedom should be a new standard for all small consultancy companies if they want to attract top experts and provide high-quality services to their customers.

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