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The Supercell Autonomous Team Model

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
20th August 2013


Walter Chen describes the governance model of the Supercell gaming company:

“Supercell, a remarkable Finnish company that’s making $2.5 million dollars every day and has been described as “the fastest growing company ever.” Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen, calls himself “the world’s least powerful CEO”, and that’s not the surprising part. What’s incredible is that Paananen made himself a weak CEO by design:

As its name implies, Supercell is organized as a collection of small, independent teams called cells tasked with developing new games or building new deep features for existing games. Cells are given complete autonomy in terms of how they organize themselves, prioritize ideas, distribute work and determine what they ultimately produce. Describing himself as the “world’s least powerful CEO”, Ilkka encourages cells to exercise extreme independence and prides himself on having no creative control over them once they are constituted. The company as a whole is merely an aggregation of these cells; a Supercell.

The only thing to say is that it’s working. Their organization and philosophy is letting this team of 100 take on the behemoths at Zynga, which has 30 employees to every 1 employee at Supercell.

The organizational and cultural design decision was purposeful: Supercell’s founders had witnessed first-hand “the downfall of too many companies that had turned into bloated, bureaucratic behemoths with many design studios in multiple time zones requiring massive management overhead and crushing hierarchies to coordinate.”

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