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Organisational Setup

This page is maintained by

Stephane Roux

TL;DR: This page explains how Wonder is designed as an organisation. It describes our overall setup, as well as a few key roles, what responsibilities they entail and how they relate to each other.

Introduction

The goal is that the organisation focuses on the product and on its users, not on itself.

To work effectively and with a high level of autonomy, we need clarity over roles. A role describes what a person is responsible for and which decisions they consequently own. Roles are not titles. They aren't about status or seniority, but have a more practical purpose. Over time, roles and titles should be connected. But even if we were 100% disciplined and consistent with titles, it would be impossible for them to reflect the fast changes that go on inside of the company.

Why do roles matter?

  • Publicly stated roles create a shared understanding of how we run and who is responsible for what
  • Roles give people clarity about their responsibilities (i.e. what they should look out for and what they can leave to others).
  • Roles make people more effective because they don’t have to think about what they should or should not do and they don’t have to double-check with others. They can make decisions quickly and autonomously
  • Roles create accountability
  • Roles allow people to “act their role” without much effort, e.g. speaking with authority, managing other stakeholders, having a seat at the table
  • Roles give people the power to push back when others are overstepping. If you can point towards our respective roles, it stops being personal (just doing my job).

This document defines a range of roles that people at Wonder have. It explains what those roles entail in terms of people's responsibilities and their level of ownership. To find an up-to-date overview of Wonder's org, check out our current org chart.

Summary

  • Until we split the teams around parts of the product, our organisational design is functional. Afterwards, it will be a matrix.
  • The Founders (Leo, Pascal and Stephane) define the long-term vision for Wonder: for the product, for the company and for the long-term strategy.
  • The Executive Team runs the company in accordance with the overarching vision: they are responsible for coordinating the work and reach most day-to-day decisions. Each executive is responsible for one or more functions.
  • The functions themselves are owned by the Function Leads - this means they set goals, communicate to the rest of the company and make sure their function develops.
  • Whoever has a direct report is a People Lead - this means they make sure the person they are leading work on the right thing, grow and develop and are fulfilled at work.
  • Almost everyone is a Contributor, at least part of the time. Experienced and capable contributors don‘t have direct reports, but are nonetheless leaders.

Role 1 - Founders

The founders have the mandate from Wonder's shareholders to shape the overall identity and vision of the company. The most important thing to understand is that founders are not executives. Most of Pascal, Leo and Stephane's day-to-day work relates to their role as executives, not as founders. When we say that Wonder is 'founder-led company', we don't mean that the founders reach all decisions, but that each founders is also an executive.

As founders, Leo, Pascal and Stephane meet every 4 weeks to discuss specific topics (see below). In the executive team meetings, they take off their founder hat and put on their executive team hat.

The founders make sure that...

  • Wonder has a clearly defined product (and company) vision
  • Wonder has a clearly defined cultural identity and set of values
  • Wonder has a clearly defined brand that is reflected inwards and outwards
  • Wonder creates value for its shareholders and uses its shares strategically
  • Wonder uses its shares strategically (e.g. to raise funds and incentivise employees)

Beyond laying out the long-term vision for the company, the founders sometimes get involved in day-to-day decisions that have an impact on culture, on the brand, on public relations or on our relations to investors. If this is the case, the founders will explicitly state this connection. Most notably, that is the case in hiring, because every hire impacts our culture.

Role 2 - Executives

The executive team runs Wonder and reaches most day-to-day decisions.

Within the executive team, only the CTO is permanently linked to a function (Engineering). Pascal, Leo and Stephane's functional responsibilities change over time, but are clearly defined at any given point.

Role 3 - Function leads

Wonder is currently organised into functions. Some functions lie within other functions and this will become more frequent in future, as Wonder grows.

The role of function lead is explicitly communicated and comes with certain responsibilities. Note that function leads are not 'above' or 'below' people leads. They are different roles. You can be a function lead, but not a people lead, and vice versa.

Each function lead makes sure that...

  • Their function is working towards achieving the strategic objectives of the company. This implies setting OKRs at the beginning of the OKR cycle, together with the executive responsible for their function.
  • Goals, work and progress are regularly communicated to the higher up function and to the rest of the company.
  • There is a rough roadmap for the future development of their function. This implies having an understanding of other topics that might be on the horizon.
  • Potential threats and opportunities are recognised early, communicated clearly and mitigated.
  • Resource needs are clearly communicated to the executive team or to the higher-up function. This implies communicating clearly any predicted hiring needs ahead of time, communicating clearly any other resources (freelancer, software, etc.) relevant to reaching goals.
  • Their function work by the latest standards and continue to learn and develop. This implies keeping up to date with developments in the field, filling knowledge gaps and asking for advice.

Role 4 - People leads

People leadership follows reporting lines. For every person, it is unambiguously clear who they are reporting to. A direct reporting line comes with certain responsibilities for the people lead.

Each people lead makes sure that...

  • They lead their team in adherence with
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    People Leadership Values
  • Their reports set clear objectives for themselves that are aligned with the goals of the function
  • Their reports have the appropriate task-relevant maturity
  • New joiners are onboarded properly
  • They maintain open communication lines with People (e.g. to learn about new tools or to discuss sensitive topics)
  • Risks and opportunities are recognised and communicated early
  • They fulfil the admin requirements (e.g. reporting holidays or sick days to people)

Role 5 - Contributors

Each person at Wonder is a contributor for part of their time. One of the core pillars of Wonder's people philosophy is that individual contributors can be leaders, too, and that becoming a people lead is not the only way to exercise leadership. Defining the different descriptions of types of contributors takes time, and we are currently working on it.