Why a flat hierarchy means working like a family

The close-knit team at Simple as Milk explains why not having roles like "lead designer" means everyone pulls together.

Simple as Milk is one of five shortlisted nominees for the Agency of the Year award in the 2014 net Awards. We spoke to the team about their recent projects and what sets them apart from the rest.

What's different about Simple as Milk?

We're a flat team, which means that there is no hierarchy. We work together as a family, we manage ourselves and each other. Everyone at Simple as Milk is a product manager and we focus on helping each other out every step of the way, learning from each other.

We succeed and fail together. We reward self-education. And most of all, we reward working as a team; a family.

What sets you apart from the rest?

We integrate our team into each company that we work with. We avoid being the ‘hired help’ or the ‘outside studio’ and instead we focus on becoming an integral part of their team. We take onboard their company and their mission, and make them our family.

We believe being a family is what makes us different from others. We argue, we fight, and most importantly - we laugh and have fun. There are no job titles like "Lead Designer", there’s no boss or anyone sitting back and profiting from the work of others. Everyone can work whenever and wherever they want. We live and breathe flexible remote working. Afterall, an efficient worker is a happy worker, right? A 9-5 work week is broken.

We do what we do because of passion, and an undeniable desire to create and kick ass. Screw profits and bottom-line as long as everyone is happy, and we produce the best work possible, that’s what matters. We believe with those two key ingredients money will follow.

Every team member is unique and we all have our little fun and annoying quirks but ultimately, like most studios, we’re here to provide the best results for our clients. We just try to have as much fun as we can while doing it.

Tell us about some work you're proud of.

The last six months have involved some really inspiring projects for us. We’re really proud of every project we put out, of course, but we’re very excited to shout about the ones that are coming into fruition soon.

You should watch this space! Some examples of our works include:

Assistly

Assistly

We worked together with the Assistly (now Desk.com) team to reimagine their marketing site. This posed some fun challenges, such as implementing a completely unheard of Saas pricing model, for example, and reiterating various details to improve the site.

Over the course of a year we became a part of their team, and absolutely loved working with them to develop new marketing strategies.

Ghost

Ghost CMS, which is nominated for two net awards this year

We’re incredibly proud of Ghost and wish that we had more time to contribute to the project. Not only did people marvel at what could be acheived in such a short space of time, but it also happens to be a project founded by a close friend of ours.

We were lucky enough to be the first (other than John [O Nolan] himself) contributor to the project when we worked on the first pass of the static front-end for the Ghost admin UI, before it landed on Kickstarter. We later worked with the Ghost team to wireframe and design the Ghost marketing site.

Unroll.me

Unroll.me helps you to unsubscribe from emails

The guys at Unroll.me are like family, I think we all know far more than we should about each other. We’ve worked with the guys for over six months now and watched them grow into one of the most awesome and useful services on the web.

We worked with them on a whole array of projects, from refining their user experience, design, front-end, and living in their statistics to track and monitor various tests, improving their conversion rates.

The great thing about working with the Unroll.me team was how close and intergrated we became. We were given the freedom to make our own product suggestions, improvements and freely set up fun A/B experiments to generate results.

What has happened over the last year?

The last year has been the most interesting year in the Simple as Milk journey so far. We're spending more and more time learning, tracking, iterating and shipping, resulting in a more refined process and creating improved overall products. We always suffer with the feeling that the work is never finished and that there is always room for improvements somewhere.

We’ve also been working with some much larger startups which has been a great learning experience. This means we go deeper into much larger datasets, and huge audiences, and we cannot wait to launch our latest set of client work.

We’ve spent most of the year travelling, where a lot of time was spent in the USA working with various clients and speaking at several conferences.

The biggest change however, was the decision to take Simple as Milk on the road last December. Simple as Milk was to become a traveling studio with every member of the team able to work whenever and wherever they wanted. The challenges that come with managing a team remotely, whilst travelling the world, has been a huge learning experience. One that I think will keep us on our toes for many years to come.

You can read more in this blog post, which reviews our last four years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tanya Combrinck is digital editor on net magazine.