TiER1: A Customer-Centric and Empowered Organization with Dynamically Distributed Authority (DDA)

Joost Minnaar
Written by Joost Minnaar August 06, 2023

In July, we had the opportunity to interview Greg Harmeyer for an Academy live event. Greg, the co-founder and CEO of TiER1, a US-based consulting firm with 330 employees, gave us the inside scoop on TiER1's progressive company culture. He put a spotlight on their employee-owned and flat structure, where anyone can talk to anyone about anything. But here's the twist —their responsibility structure isn't flat. Instead, TiER1 operates with dynamic and contextual hierarchies of responsibilities that form naturally around specific purposes. This approach ensures flexibility and effectiveness in their decision-making processes. Let's explore it a bit more. 

Customer-Centric Approach: Delivering Value

TiER1's primary focus is on being exceptionally customer-centric, aiming to deliver value to their clients above all else. Additionally, the company actively pursues other objectives, such as developing new services, marketing strategies, and streamlining processes for greater efficiency. To achieve these goals, TiER1 empowers its team members to take on diverse roles and responsibilities autonomously.

Dynamically Distributed Authority (DDA)

To effectively manage their customer-centric approach and distributed responsibilities, TiER1 has developed a unique 'operating model' called Dynamically Distributed Authority (DDA). This system distributes authority throughout their flat organization allowing individuals close to the customers to lead the company while harnessing the talents of all team members. DDA ensures the organization maintains structure, role clarity, and high-performance standards to make sure work gets done effectively.

TiER1 operates with dynamic and contextual hierarchies of responsibilities that form naturally around specific purposes. This approach ensures flexibility and effectiveness in their decision-making processes.
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The 5 pillars of DDA

Greg explained that DDA operates on five fundamental pillars, replacing traditional bureaucratic structures based on functions, processes, systems, policies, and reviews. Let me introduce them one by one:

1. Principle-driven

TiER1's business is guided by principles rather than rigid rules and policies. The difference between the two? Well, policies are all about giving specific answers to certain questions (like how many days you should be at the office). But principles, on the other hand, provide people with guidance to answer those questions independently.

These principles empower employees to make autonomous decisions, promoting fluidity and agility within the organization. Examples of TiER1's principles include "The person closest to the client makes the call", "Check your thinking", and "Act for the long term".

2. Role-based

At TiER1, they adopt a role-based organizational approach, steering away from static structures based on fixed hierarchical positions, reporting lines, job titles, and levels. Instead, they embrace a more dynamic 'role-based organization.' Here's how it works: They break down work into 'packages of work', each defined by a specific role associated with particular authorities, accountabilities, and responsibilities. These roles are captured and outlined in 'role cards', which include a summary of the role, typical activities, accountabilities, time investment, tools, and required skills and knowledge.

In this dynamic setup, individuals perform a variety of roles, contributing to the organization in a flexible and adaptive manner. This allows for versatility and efficiency, ensuring that tasks are assigned to the right people with the necessary expertise.

3. Metric-informed

In their dynamic environment, TiER1 places significant importance on metrics. They view metrics as vital indicators of success and valuable tools for assessing alignment within the organization. By using clear metrics, they can transform abstract concepts into actionable directions. For instance, TiER1 doesn't just talk about 'capturing market share'; instead, they set concrete goals like 'acquiring four new clients within six month'. These specific metrics serve as tangible targets, driving the organization forward with purpose.

It's important to note that TiER1 doesn't use metrics as a means of punishment. On the contrary, they view metrics as a supportive system that fosters a healthy and high-performing organization. By relying on metrics, TiER1 boosts transparency, trust, participation, and collaboration among its team members, ultimately contributing to the company's success.

4. Unified Ways of Working (UWoW)

TiER1 has developed a minimum set of common approaches (UWoW) that all employees must follow. However, TiER1 is mindful not to standardize too much, as they prioritize preserving people's autonomy. Instead, TiER1 only standardizes common approaches when doing so clearly enhances the employee and customer experience, simplifying collaboration and improving execution efficiency.

Within their UWoW, they specify aspects such as the language and frameworks used to deliver value to customers, as well as what IT tools are used for collaboration. This strategic and balanced approach to standardization fosters a harmonious work environment while promoting continuous innovation and allows for the development of relationships with colleagues and customers.

5. Empowered and Accountable (E&A)

The fifth pillar is a fundamental cornerstone of TiER1's organizational philosophy. It revolves around how individuals are expected to present themselves within the organization. They firmly believe in empowering individuals, authorizing and encouraging them to leverage their unique talents to advance the company's purpose and mission. However, TiER1 also recognizes that empowerment must be balanced with accountability. They encourage their employees to be accountable for their own work and well-being. In other words, TiER1 believes that its people should be both empowered and accountable.


In summary, at TiER1, principles guide decision-making, roles determine how work is taken on, metrics keep the organization aligned, UWOW facilitates collaboration, and E&A shapes empowered individuals. But that's not all. Greg shared many more intriguing insights about their unique approach to work, too numerous to cover in this article (you can watch the full interview recording on our Academy platform).

If you're eager to delve deeper into TiER1's way of working, you're in luck. Greg has written a book titled 'Impact with Love,' offering comprehensive insights soon to be published. You can order it here.

Written by Joost Minnaar
Joost Minnaar
Co-founder Corporate Rebels. My daily focus is on research, writing, and anything else related to making work more fun.
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