What is Adhocracy Company Culture?

Ngoc Anh Luong
Ngoc Anh Luong
Head of Digital Marketing at traicie - The best AI-powered talent sourcing tool for recruiters
Table of contents

Adhocracy company culture helps organisations be more creative and flexible, which is a must in today’s constantly changing market. Building an adhocracy culture is one of the most strategic innovations for many organisations to stay ahead of the competition and set themselves distinctive from competitors. 

Let’s analyze adhocracy company culture, in detail, in a business setting, its pros and cons, examples of it in organisations, and how HR professionals can help promote it.

What is adhocracy company culture?

What is adhocracy company culture?

In the Competing Values Framework, adhocracy is one of the four main types of organisational culture:

  • Adhocracy culture (Create)
  • Clan culture (Collaborate)
  • Hierarchy culture (Control)
  • Market culture (Compete)

Most organisations have more than one culture, but one corporate culture usually dominates and defines the whole environment.

Even though the word “adhocracy” sounds fancy, it comes from the word “ad-hoc” and describes how businesses have changed from the industrial to the informational age. This means that innovation is needed right now, and interactions with this kind of culture measure their success by how well they develop new products and services. So, it makes sense that companies with this kind of culture focus on creating new product lines and services since they think that products are temporary and can be replaced by better ones.

Fostering the kind of company culture that fits your business and goals will help you improve organisational performance and, in the end, positively affect the company’s income. One clear benefit of adhocracy company culture is that it encourages new ideas. It comes from a focus on taking risks, being unique, doing multiple things at once, and making products with the future in mind.

Do you find an Adhocracy work culture in your company?

If your company encourages employees to be creative and flexible and focuses on making new products and services, you may be working within an adhocracy culture.

The order of tasks and the team working on them can affect how power moves around in a business. For example, the risk analysis team at Amazon is in charge of sections that deal with “seller support.”

You like the idea of an Adhocracy work culture but…

Adhocracy company culture is complex if you still want to remain traditional business structures. Whereas other models focus on consistency and long-term goals, an adhocracy company culture focuses on short-term goals.

Key aspects of an adhocracy company culture:

Key aspects of an adhocracy company culture

Organisations with an adhocracy company culture give their employees a place to work that is flexible and encourages participation. Some of the things that this workspace have in common are:

Less emphasis on official authority and more on individual initiative

There are no strict boundaries between corporate levels and leadership is shared. Employees aren’t restricted to one role. Instead, they can take charge of projects that match their skills. They are free to take care of things on their own, try different ways to solve problems and finish tasks without asking a supervisor for permission.

A focus on new ideas and taking risks

It’s okay to ask why things are done the way they are and make changes. Employees are free to come up with their ideas and try them out. This experimentation leads to new ways of doing things, products, and services. It also encourages continuous innovation.

A laid-back environment

Little is written about how people should act, how things work, and who does what. Employees now have more say over when and how they do their jobs.

A very organic structure

Less value is put on following rules or making plans ahead of time. Decisions are made more in response to problems than anticipation, and projects can be changed anytime. There is a focus on how quickly things need to be done, so team members can work together and take action without waiting for permission.

People value and use flexibility

The goal is to have a flexible mind that can quickly switch gears. Internal resources need to be ready for the way business is constantly changing. Specialised teams are quickly put together to deal with any problems that may come up.

Adhocracy company culture examples:

You probably know that many companies have adopted some parts of adhocracy company culture. Here are just a few examples:

Apple

This big tech company has a structure based on areas of expertise instead of products. People with different jobs on different teams work on each product. Each part of the company can do its job in whatever way it thinks is best. Apple gives its employees flexible work hours so that they can get their work done and come up with new ideas. It is suggested that they spend 10% of their time coming up with new ideas, whether or not they are related to a project they are working on.

Spotify

How this company runs its audio streaming service has become a model for other businesses. Spotify doesn’t have a set organisational structure; instead, decisions about how work gets done are made all over the company. Small, cross-functional groups called Squads to take care of every part of the business. Each squad has its mission, and its members can do their work in any way they think will be most effective.

Tesla

Tesla has a relatively flat structure of managers and subordinates, and employees are told to think of the company as their own. In some places, the system is limited or flexible, and there isn’t a lot of politics or bureaucracy.

Elon Musk, the CEO, has clarified that employees do not need permission to talk to people at any company level about ideas that will help the business. Employees don’t mind talking to people of different ranks and from outside their departments about how to solve problems.

Advantages and drawbacks of adhocracy company culture:

Advantages and Drawbacks of Adhocracy Company Culture

Some companies might be more interested in an adhocracy company culture than a traditional organisational culture model. It works well in industries where unpredictability is expected because products can be updated or replaced regularly with newer ones with better technology. The model can also exist in specific business units on a smaller scale. Here are some of the benefits of an adhocracy company culture:

Nimble corporate culture

Adhocracy can quickly adapt to changes in the market and change its strategy in a short amount of time.

Employees are in charge

The best adhocracies are based on meritocracy, meaning that team members are rewarded based on their skills and effort, not on how long they’ve been at the company or their job title. Because of this, adhocratic culture can help professional growth in ways that a traditional corporate structure can’t.

Cross-specialization

Most people who work in an adhocracy company culture don’t have formal job descriptions. This lets them jump from one project team to another and contribute in ways that are unique to their own skill sets.

Decisions can be made quickly

Because the focus is on taking risks and there isn’t much of a hierarchy, decisions are made quickly when there isn’t time to think about them for a long time. People can act on instinct without needing to get permission from a lot of different people. This means you can meet the immediate needs of customers and the market’s needs, even when things change quickly.

Getting people to be creative and think outside the box

Because there is no hierarchy, it is easier to talk to, work with, and hang out with coworkers. People are more likely to share their thoughts and ideas to try things out and find solutions.

Drawbacks of an adhocracy company culture:

The adhocracy culture is only suitable for some types of businesses. Industries that follow strict protocols will only be able to work with planned processes and set procedures. It’s essential to think about how this approach could hurt your business. Here is a list of some of the problems and restrictions:

It takes a lot of work to create a unified culture

When different project teams work semi-independently, it can take time to get everyone in the company to agree on the same mission statement, core values, and code of conduct. Over time, a company that doesn’t have a unified culture can put the human resources department at high risk.

Not enough supervision

In an organisation with a top-down hierarchy, team leaders have to report to the top of the corporate ladder about all activities and progress. In an adhocracy, there is less guidance from management and project teams may have differing goals.

High cost of communication

Adhocracy doesn’t create natural ways for people to talk to each other. When there isn’t a clear hierarchy, employees might not know what’s happening in other parts of the company. Some companies use a hybrid of bureaucracy and adhocracy to deal with this. This is sometimes called a bureau adhocracy. This business model combines the rules of an organisation, like a bureaucracy, with the ability to change and give people power like an adhocracy.

Only some ideas will be successful

Taking chances sometimes pays off. Failures are common, so an organisation needs to be able to deal with them. If you decide on the spot and don’t do any market research or manage your risks, you might save money on something that doesn’t work out. If you don’t plan for possible problems, you must deal with them as they arise. On the other hand, you have ways to deal with issues or practices to prevent them and help you be ready for when they happen.

It might take a lot of work to find people to hire

Not everyone would work well in an adhocracy. People who need a lot of stability, rules, and routine will not fit in well, making hiring harder. Additionally, due to the chaos and freedom within an adhocracy, people with more experience are expected to do better than those just starting. When things move quickly, you need workers who have good skills and don’t need much help. Leaders need to have a lot of faith that their team members can handle anything that comes their way.

How can HR help build a culture of adhocracy?

HR can make a difference whether your company is a true adhocracy or uses some of its ideas to encourage innovation and individual initiative. Think about the following things to help build a good adhocracy company culture:

1. Modify the plan

Learn what adhocracy is and how it works. For example, you could promote specific ideas, like making decisions quickly, or select only particular teams to use some adhocracy ideas. It might take a few tries to get it right. Changing your company’s culture for the better means adapting the adhocracy model to your organisation’s needs and environment. This can be a lengthy process.

|>>> traicie has been supporting Amazon in building a smarter and more productive HR system:

Ask Amazon Global Acquisition Leader about Fighting the Great Resignation

2. Encourage collaboration between departments

If your company has many separate departments that don’t constantly update each other, it’s essential to encourage them to work together. Create a united channel where information can flow, such as cross-team projects, brainstorming sessions, dedicated communication channels, etc. When you bring people together on purpose to talk about new ideas and problems, you create an environment where people naturally share their knowledge when issues come up.

3. Hire the right people and keep them

It’s essential to find people who fit your company culture. Additionally, hiring managers need to comprehend what types of employees to look for. In the case of creating an Adhocracy Work Culture, you should turn to candidates with history of being autonomous, flexible, and team-oriented.

How to source “the best fit” for your company in a shorter time? You might need assistance from AI-powered sourcing tools. Since the HR procedures are mainly done by human beings, it is unavoidable that biases would appear which would lead to inefficient recruitment. 

|>>> traicie’s softskills-centered sourcing can help you source candidates that fit your company culture: Augmented Recruitment can source 23% more talent in 37% less time 

4. Reward and encourage good behaviour

Define the behaviour you want to see more in the organisation, encourage and reward these traits. For example, you could praise bold actions and challenging experiments in the team, even if they didn’t work out perfectly. Employees will adopt this innovative thinking and help their peers do the same. Employees are encouraged to take part in making decisions, and leaders make it easy for them to do so.

|>>> Read more: Culture-based Recruiting: Why is it the best approach?

Conclusion

In a place where things change quickly, a less rigid way of managing can be the way to go. The adhocracy company culture gives employees a chance to make a difference and gives organisations the flexibility they need. You can get the most out of this organisational culture if you support the parts of an adhocracy company culture that make sense for your company.

 

Do you know that traicie’s sourcing tools for recruiters can help the hiring team with culture-based hiring but also improves the strategic, operational value of the recruiting process :

  1. Cost of a job board – Reduce annual spending on job boards
  2. Cost of HR tools – Reduce the cost of surveys and assessment tools
  3. Recruitment costs – Reduce selection costs
  4. Internal mobility – Fill more skilled jobs with internal staff
  5. Time to hire – Reduce the number of days a role goes unfilled
  6. Salary costs – Reduce overall salary costs
  7. Attrition – Reduce the rate of turnover
  8. Recruitment cost – Reduce the general recruitment cost

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B)

Expand Your Talent Pool

Leverage Hiring Process

KNOWLEDGE HR CONTENT

Talent Management & Employee Mobility

Top Performers 64 traits

Candidates Engagement