How a Flat Planet Transformed Ecetera's Company Culture

June 23, 2014

If you are facing a tough challenge, step away from your desk and spend some time with your kids (or your friends' kids if you aren’t at that stage yet). You will notice is that children believe that nothing is impossible -- everything in the world is a new, exciting opportunity that can be easily conquered.

When Olivier Lambel was Head of People and Culture at Ecetera -- a company who develops, tests and manages web and mobile applications and operations -- he was tasked with completely reorganizing the structure. He put on his childhood "everything is possible" glasses and rolled up his sleeves. He created a flat organizational structure that leveled the playing field amongst employees and created a special culture that attracted the right talent, making Ecetera one of the Top 100 Coolest Companies in Australia. Here’s how he did it.

Why a flat structure?

When a new CEO came to the company, Olivier was challenged to rethink the company traditional hierarchy. His new boss had transitioned from a large organization, and didn’t want Ecetera to have the same old structure where leadership was at the top, employees were in the middle, and customers at the bottom. Olivier flipped the pyramid with a supportive horizontal structure, bringing customers to the top, followed by employees, then support staff, and finally leadership. He called this “a flat planet.” Here is what this structure looks like according to the Ecetera’s Career Page:


His reason? Ecetera’s clients are the most valuable, because without customers, the company wouldn’t exist. Hence, it felt natural to put Ecetera’s clients at the top of the inverted pyramid, followed by employees who work the closest to clients. The functional heads (marketing, finance leaders, etc) support the client-facing engineering dream team and leadership is at the bottom. Strategy and personal development flows throughout, empowering employees with decision-making authority, accountability and freedom of action.

How a Flat Planet affects talent brand

In a company full of developers and technical talent, Ecetera embraces their “geekiness” by creating a capital for their flat planet company culture -- it’s called Freedomville. This is a state of mind where employees are encouraged to think freely and speak their minds. It’s a way for the employees to live the company’s core values of intelligence, innovation, passion, customer centricity, accountability and open mindedness.

Ecetera promotes their talent brand through humorous LinkedIn company posts, slaps Freedomville proudly on their Career Page, and uses employees as brand advocates at industry meetups. There is even a Flat Planet employee handbook available on SlideShare. Not only does the handbook onboard new employees into the company culture and mission, it also appoints employees as a brand ambassadors. “Passion attracts passion,” says Olivier. “Your employees feel it, your customers feed it, and your future talent feels it.”


Flip the coin

Ecetera’s inspiring approach transforms the way we think about company culture and employee values. So we challenge you to identify where you can flip the coin in your talent acquisition team. Whether it’s a flat organizational structure or a unique talent brand, identify where you can make an unconventional change to fuel dramatic recruiting results.

Employer Brand Playbook