Decos Noordwijk: 'connected working', working without managers

2015 – Decos is an IT company with offices in Noordwijk, the Netherlands and Pune in India. This case description only concerns the establishment in Noordwijk.  In 2015, 56 professionals are working  in Noordwijk.

The enclosed case description has been based on interviews with Bert Hendriks, chief commercial officer, René Wanders, product manager, Mark Rosier, controller and member of the Works Council and Marcia van Kampen, communications officer. 


In early 2014 Decos started working without managers; at Decos one speaks of ‘connected working’. 

Reason and objectives for workplace innovation

According to Bert Hendriks the reason was that they started to realize that a hierarchical structure does not work for Decos. They then searched for shapes that would stimulate the employees to take  initiative and risks. Ricardo Semler has inspired them. 

Workplace innovation practices

There have been implemented several workplace innovation practices at Decos:

  • in the structure: employee ownership, decision-making structure (consensus) and hierarchical structure (max. 2 or 3 layers);

  • in the strategy: the strategy develops in an ‘organic’ way; all employees can bring forward ideas at any time and will be heard.

  • in the primary process: the staff work according to the lean startup method and develops software in co-creation; they work in self-steering  teams and employees manage themselves on the basis of jointly agreed ‘Objectives and Key Results’;

  • in innovation: there is a fixed budget for innovation for the whole group, where anyone with a good proposal can claim;

  • in  HR: the teams decide if new people are needed and recruit them. There is a lot of support from the Board for the professional development of staff;

  • in Participation: there is a Works Council of three people with whom the Board will discuss matters such as working conditions, pensions, abolishing formal holiday, reorganizations.


In the beginning there was a lot of uncertainty about working without managers. It became obvious that managers fulfilled important tasks and roles. But soon they found out that these tasks and roles could be executed in a different manner or fulfilled by other employees without that employees deriving more status, power and income. Examples include the introduction of the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) system and the 360-degree feedback system. 


Many more people are now taking initiatives. Whether the introduction of connected working has led to more satisfied staff has not yet been established in an employee satisfaction survey.

The financial results of 2014, the year Decos started with connected working, was good just like most previous years. The connected working at least has had no negative effect on the result. 


The tip of Mark Rosier is, “Trust your employees’.

René Wanders concludes: ‘It is important that a company is clear and transparent." 


The full case description by Fietje Vaas is attached as appendix.

Source of information was also the article in MT Management Team (30 – 3, 2015): ‘Bij Decos in Noordwijk hebben ze geen managers nodig’, (‘At Decos Noordwijk they do not need any managers’) p. 1 – 7. This article is attached.