Relationships and team structure

Our Organisational Structure

At Joyous people learn more, faster, than they could elsewhere. This is true across our entire organisation.

Three key factors enable this: collective leadership, partnerships, and roles with broad capabilities.

This approach means we have fewer layers and slices in our people organisation. Not only are we streamlined, we are also vastly more productive. Why? Because this model builds trust, and reduces bureaucracy.

Collective leadership

At Joyous we don't arrange leaders in a hierarchy, one below each other. Instead we share roles at a senior level. Our CEO role is currently shared. We plan to extend this approach to other senior roles in future.

This is a hybrid approach between a co-role and a rotating role. Two to three people share the role. The operational part of a role rotates each quarter. Other aspects of the role are always shared.

The benefits to a collective leadership approach:

  • Detaching leadership roles from a single personality
  • Encouraging teamwork at a leadership level
  • Rapid learning for those new to the role
  • Better outcomes and more innovation
  • More energised leadership
  • More support and less stress in challenging roles
  • Greater work life balance for leaders
  • Built-in succession planning

The more we experiment with the notion of collective leadership the more benefits we see. In future as we grow, we will share other leadership roles as well.


Strong partnerships exist across functional disciplines in our organisation.

Sales and Marketing have a strong partnership to achieve our revenue objectives. Sales and Product have a strong partnership to turn pilots into paying customers. Product and Engineering have a strong partnership to meet our product objectives. And so on.

We are all focused on the same strategic objectives, and working hard towards them. The shift in thinking is towards being collaborative and supportive.

We are often asked how we hold each other accountable. This question simply doesn't align with our partnership dynamic. We all agree our OKRs, and are collectively accountable.

The notion of partnering is just as strong between individuals at Joyous. When a new feature is being designed, it is common for two product people to pair on it. When a feature is being coded, an engineer will never build it alone.

Broad capabilities

We all have a broad set of capabilities, and a compulsion to deliver excellent outcomes.

Initially we worked this way by necessity, because we were a start-up. Over time we made a decision to continue this way, rather than hiring specialists.

We waste less time passing the parcel between individuals with different specialist roles. This reduction in noise makes us both more efficient and versatile.

We also find that roles with broad capabilities is a great way to grow and stretch people who are eager. So, we hire people with this orientation from the outset.

Let's compare a traditional organisational structure to ours. We will focus on product, engineering, design and customer care.


Figure 2 Traditional organisational chart, up to 7 layers and 12 slices.

Figure 3 Current Joyous org chart, 3 layers, 2 slices.

Let's examine the key differences between these two org charts:

  • Orientation. The traditional org chart has the most senior leaders at the top, representing a reporting line. Our org chart has our most senior leaders at the bottom, we think of these as supporting lines.
  • Connections. There are no lines connecting roles across the same layer in a traditional org chart. Our org chart has connecting lines. This represents our collective leadership approach, and also partnerships.
  • Complexity. The traditional org chart has up to 7 layers, and 12 slices. Some organisations may have fewer layers, and slices - depending on their size. Our org chart has 3 layers and 2 slices.

Now, you may wonder how we intend to scale our approach as we grow. We can’t say for sure, but we aim to extend our model as shown in the next figure.

Figure 4 Future Joyous org chart, 3 layers, 3 slices.

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