Closeup: A woman is creating a sketch of the Peerdom tool. The sketch is framed by a phone template.

Peerdom: An adventure in organisation design

21.11.19

When we redesigned the way we work at Nothing to be more dynamic and agile, we needed a simple digital tool to visualise our constantly evolving organisation. We conceived, developed, and designed Peerdom, which has since become an independent product.

In a nutshell

  • We changed from an implicitly structured flat hierarchy to explicit self-organisation at Nothing.
  • To accompany our transformation, we designed and developed Peerdom, an organisation mapping tool.
  • We went from the birth of an idea to a fully-fledged business, proving our expertise in all stages of creating a digital product that addresses human and market needs.

The road to self-organisation

In 2017, we transformed Nothing into a self-managed, peer-to-peer organisation. Since we self-organise, it’s essential to clarify where, how, and by whom decisions should be taken. Our new organisational design is role-based and empowers peers to personalise their own job by combining roles across various teams. For example, someone may work as a software developer but also participate in communications work or talent recruitment. This flexibility to take on (and leave!) roles means that our organisational structure constantly evolves. This called for a tool that helps us keep track of who currently holds which roles and responsibilities.

To the left there is the description of the role Marketing and its accountabilities. To the right the Circle with the Roles.
One can see which roles are defined for a team (circle), who holds the role, and discover its accountabilities.

Self-organisation has many different faces. The most widely known is Holacracy, for which various software solutions exist. However, while these tools also allow one to map roles, you also have to adopt the “full package” of Holacracy’s managerial processes. We were unable to find a tool that allowed us to start our restructuring at Nothing without adopting a whole host of processes; a tool that was both simple and modular so that it could grow with our needs without over-complicating things.

So we set out to design and develop our own product Peerdom, an organisation mapping tool. Its purpose: help organisations evolve as decentralized, purpose-driven collectives of peers. Peerdom gives all individuals in an organisation the opportunity to visualise and interact with their organisational structure—be it hierarchical, matrix, or peer-to-peer. It helps employees engage in and take ownership of their work, which ultimately results in a happier workforce and better organisational performance.

Peerdom on the market

Peerdom was important in our own organisational journey, but it quickly proved to be a product that responded to an actual market need. Together with organisational coach Daniel Sigrist, we found that a simple role-mapping and visualisation tool is a crucial element for organisational transformation. Working with him and a few other organisational coaches, we started to transform Peerdom into a product that would empower any organisation wanting to move to (their own version of) self-organisation.

An animated gif shows how to zoom in and out of the circles in Peerdom.

One of the many perks of the Peerdom map: Users can actively engage with the individual roles.

Early adopters of Peerdom were charities, schools and NGOs who provided us with invaluable feedback to shape the product. Through independent, bootstrapped funding, we slowly but steadily laid a foundation for Peerdom’s business without external investment.

To date, our platform has been used by over 600 peers in over 40 organisations. And the number is constantly growing: we are currently in negotiations with several enterprises, which together account for nearly 10,000 peers. Our trusted community of organisational coaches is also expanding. At the moment, we have partners located in 10 countries, who represent Peerdom in seven languages.

From idea to polished product

Peerdom’s success as a venture has inspired us to reconsider our course at Nothing. Its development went beyond the execution of an existing idea and challenged us to thoroughly conceptualize all aspects of releasing a digital product, including market relevance and formulating (as well as implementing) a strategy that supports a viable business.

With Peerdom, we have worked from a fuzzy idea to a polished product in the making. During our journey from idea to market, we have gained sustained experience and are one step closer to converting Nothing into an innovation lab, where we do more than just design: We grow ideas through our business, technology, and design expertise.

Interested in giving your team clarity and revolutionising the way you look at your organisation? Check out Peerdom.

For details on our own organisational transformation read more about our peer-to-peer organisational design.