Transforming the work structure at DCMN – Christian Graf

Christian is the CTO at DCMN 

With 20+ as a software developer, Christian started coding when he was 16. Drawn to the allure of entrepreneur life he started his first company when he was 17. His company provided a hosting service to businesses. He found that this was a nice niche he could exploit at the time that paid for Christian’s studies.     

When he finished studying physics he started a second company in Berlin where he created a video recruiting interview software. After this, he worked at SAP for a while before starting yet another company dealing in mobile advertising. He sold that two years ago to DCMN which is where he’s serving as the CTO right now. 


Transforming the work structure at DCMN 

DCMN’s new work structure draws a lot from agile principles. The company currently employs 200 staff. When the business crossed the 100 member threshold they saw that the natural structures implemented for management began to break down.

There was a lot of obstacles appearing in the businesses that were slowing down productivity and making communication a challenge. At this point, DCMN realised they wanted to keep the company culture they had. Their culture was built on a lot of trust and freedom for everyone. So they thought about how they could keep this work structure whilst also scaling the company.       

DCMN looked towards agile principles and began to apply them to the entire company.  They removed all the hierarchy present in the company and also removed the meanings to any titles people had in the company. They then reorganised the company into independent, but multi-disciplinary teams.  

DCMN also removed all personal goals and instead replaced them with team goals.  The ensured all of these teams had all the resources they needed to complete their shared goals.

One change DCMN made that most other companies haven’t is the complete removal of line managers in their work structure. If you look at most companies (Netflix, Spotify) they have a matrix-like structure. You have your team which is your primary area of responsibility but then you have a manager that’s not officially in your team who’s responsible for your salary, career path, etc. DCMN felt this work structure was very artificial and they wanted to remove it to have truly independent teams. 

This created what DCMN termed pods of flat structure and these pods operate as mini-companies. 


Show Notes:

00.56 Christians background and career progression  

03.13 Entrepreneurship is a daily challenge

05.14 Assessing the value of mentors

08.05 You’re learning and you don’t even know it

10.13 Learning from anyone, not just senior colleagues

11.13 Transforming the work structure at DCMN  

15.01 Dissecting the idea of ‘seniority’ 

16.47 Calling out the mid-level manager

17.37 The benefits of DCMN’s new work structure 

19.37 Junior developers can have senior-level soft skills

21.25 The second iteration of DCMN’S work structure

24.43 Guiding your company towards your vision