Most Companies Are Managing The Wrong Thing

Management is a very popular concept in today’s working world. There are many books written on management. People attend management seminars. Off-site meetups are billed as management retreats.

Slaves Being Managed

But, what is being managed?


In most companies today, people are being managed.

Countless amounts of time, money and effort are spent in managing people.

This is a very backwards approach to work.

In the popular modern paradigm, people are assembled to come together and work in the same building, sitting next to each other, reporting on their progress, and allegedly working on something of value.

There are a lot of antiquated views that are implicitly present in this paradigm:

  • People don’t naturally want to create things of value
  • If you can’t watch someone work, they won’t be productive
  • If people aren’t spending most of their time communicating, then they aren’t creating value
  • If you don’t have a progress report, then no meaningful work occurred

Perhaps before the information age, this paradigm made sense.

But now, we know more a lot more about the way people actually work.

The truth is:

  • People inherently want to create things of value
  • People work best when they are intrinsically motivated
  • Energy spent on communicating and energy spent creating are mutually exclusive
  • The best demonstration of progress is a functional, usuable, visible project

What does this mean about management?

That what should be managed is not the people, but the work.

People are naturally motivated to create things they are proud of. They are naturally motivated to earn the money they need to thrive in life and provide for their families. They don’t need to be managed.

The work should be managed so that people can be empowered.

Why does work need to be managed?

The goal is often unclear.

Well-managed work makes it easy for people to answer these questions:

  • What are we trying to create?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • How valuable is this piece of work?
  • Who is already working on this part of the problem?
  • How much work is needed before this project is minimally viable?
  • In what order do these tasks need to be carried out?
  • Which parts of this project are insufficiently documented?
  • Which aspect of quality are the most important for this project?

A company’s attitude on management serves as an effective indicator for revealing how evolved they are.

If they are managing people, they are a company running on antiquated ideas. You are sure to see unhappy people who are being held back from utilizing their full potential.

If they are managing work, they are a human-friendly company properly using what we know about the nature of human motivation and fulfillment. You are sure to see happy people accomplishing things they are passionate about, and being rewarded for it.

Zerocracy is an approach to software development that is solely built to effectively manage the work. There are no directors, managers, supervisors, or team leads.

What is managed is the work.

People are free to work on the project, and get automatically paid for ther contributions.

People are paid for opening new tickets and helping manage the work by envisioning what the project really needs, or by finding bugs in the current project.

Zerocracy is a company that is correctly focused on solving the hard problem of managing the work, instead of the wasteful black hole of trying to manage people.

It is our mission that other companies will also adopt this modern approach to work, and capitalize on the natural motivations and propensities of people by empowering them, instead of counterproductively trying to manage them.

Boost Factor

In the article How to Push Them Forward? I suggested boost factor as one of the mechanisms to force a task, in order to make sure it completes faster than usual. The §5 of our Policy explains how it works, briefly. Even though it’s a very simple procedure, it gets many architects and programmers confused. Let me explain how it is supposed to work.

Tech Audits

No matter how much you trust your programmers and how motivated they are, you have to review their results regularly, identify most critical technical gaps, and implement corrective and preventive actions. Savvy businesses invite external experts to perform independent reviews. Zerocracy can provide such an expert, who will audit everything your technical team is working with, and report back to you with a short few-pages-long PDF summary.

Core Review Tips

As an architect of a few projects in Zerocracy I’m merging a couple of GitHub pull requests every day. Each pull request I’m looking at has passed the code-review step. However, reviewers often miss some important concerns when accepting pull requests. Here I’ll explain what I’m expecting from a good code review.

Five Steps To Microtasking

Every day we meet many CTOs, architects, developers and startup founders, who like the management model of Zerocracy, which is based on microtasking. They understand that paying by result is a much more effective way of managing human resources, comparing to old and traditional monthly salaries. However, they are not ready to jump into it immediately. Indeed, it’s risky. You may lose your entire team, together with the source code it maintains.

My Life Since I Discovered Zerocracy

I graduated in 2017 and managed to find a full-time job as an Android Developer. For most people, that would be it, “I’m on the right track.” Not for me! I saw that there was something wrong in this market: working in a multi-national company wasn’t a proof that I was good enough.

Survival Guide

Zerocracy is a great platform to manage a software development project … if you understand how the world of wild animals, also known as pay-by-result freelancing microtaskers, works. If you treat them as you used to treat traditional full-time programmers, you will lose. You will lose your money, your time and will blame Zerocracy. I don’t want this to happen, that’s why this blog post with a short list of important principles/hints.

Most Typical Concerns

I decided to publish this blog post in order to summarize the most popular concerns potential clients of Zerocracy express, when they start thinking about moving from a traditional management to microtasking. The blog post will be get new content regularly, and will be used as a reference tutorial for our sales front.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire Zerocrat?

It is a very popular question I hear when I explain what Zerocracy is doing and how it turns traditional software development upside down to increase quality, motivation, and so on. “OK, but what is the financial gain,” they ask? “What is my return on investment? How much will I pay and why it will be cheaper than what I spend now? Give me the price list!” It’s a fair question, which is rather difficult to answer. There is a price list, of course, but it’s impossible to compare it with what you are used to see in a traditional software development.

Sales Kit

I was talking to a few people recently, who wanted to join our team and help us sell the platform to potential customers—software companies. They all asked me for a “sales kit” document or a package of documents, which were supposed to answer their most important questions and help address the pain points of those potential customers. Anyway, instead of a fancy PDF document I decided to write up this blog post. Here it is, feel free to use this information when you sell Zerocracy:

How to become a QA in Zerocracy?

We’re receiving too many requests for joining as a QA, so to avoid explaining same things in chat, I’ll write it in this post. The most common misconception about QA role is that the person (who is applying for that role) is thinking that he/she will be asked to test software or verify that bugs were fixed. It’s wrong, we have another role for that: TST (tester role). QA role responsibilities include different things: verifying that completed jobs are up to quality, checking that Zerocracy rules were respected. Here I describe the list of steps to get the QA role in Zerocracy projects and what to do next.

How to Push Them Forward?

I just got an email from one of our customers this morning. They are complaining that the project is not moving forward as fast as they would expect. Here is what they are literally saying: “Despite the fact that about 20 developers have been invited to the project, work is going very slowly and, worse, unpredictable. On average, the developer closes 3 tasks per week. It seems that all of the DEVs have a main job, and in Zerocracy they work on a residual basis. There are cases when a task (which should take 30 minutes for the developer) is not solved within 10-15 days. Moreover, we cannot do anything about it, because according to the policy, developer has 10 days to complete the task. Also, we do not have tools for additional motivation of developers. The reputation system doesn’t seem to work, because reputation does not affect anything and punishments are very small.” It’s a fair complaint, let’s see what we can do about it.

The Era of Freelance Is Coming

The outsourcing in combination with low-cost offshoring was a major trend in the software industry twenty years ago. Since then small groups of enthusiasts grew into large companies with thousands of employees and dozens of offices all over the world, like Wipro, EPAM, Luxoft, and others. Despite the obvious success, the future of software development may need a different business model, since clients’ requirements are rapidly changing. The market is quickly shifting towards more flexible work models, which compete with full-time office employment and time&material contracts.

Remote Work Boosts Productivity Only If Done Right

Referring to the latest news, we know that nowadays people prefer to work distantly and we also know that this is productive, according to a Stanford study that shows the astonishing productivity boost of working from home. Simon Slade in his recent post says: “Creating a positive work environment that responds to millennial desires will ensure that your business becomes a coveted place to work and hires only the best.”

How Long It Takes to Close

Our Policy expects our developers to be fast. Section §36 pays for quicker delivery and §8 penalizes slow movers by removing them if they don’t close in ten days (at the time of writing). Why even ten days, if our tasks are so small? And how long does it really take to close an average task? Can we do something to close them sooner?

Why Refusal Is Penalized?

We at Zerocracy, as you know, are strong advocates of freedom and the “No Obligations” principle. You, as a developer, are supposed to work only when you feel like it. If you don’t like the task assigned to you, you simply refuse it. No strings attached. However, Zerocrat will penalize you for such a refusal with a few negative reputation points, according to the §6 of the Policy. Why so? Here is the logic explained.

90 Days

While working under the management of Zerocrat you earn reputation points, according to the §18 of the Policy. Each successful task completion gives you as many points as big is the budget of the task. Say, the budget is 30 minutes. You get +30 points to your reputation when it’s closed. However, the points will fade out in 90 days. Let me explain the logic behind this rule.