I am a professional. i was an employee for a long time, am a company owner now. I have also helped build a number of volunteer organisations.
One of them is a very local creative school for young children. We will soon celebrate our 23rd anniversary. We have some 250 kids and some 25 trainers.
We run it as a group of volunteers, varying over the years between 3 and 7. It is a lot of work. There has never been a hierarchy. The reward is: well, watch the kids perform, see the teachers grow in competence, enjoy building something of value together.
Some 15 years, I decided to quit the definitely hierarchical, authoritarian even, IT services company and created a company based on the same values: a learning environment, with little hierarchy and a focus on innovation. My volunteer work had taught me it could be done.
Innovate we did, and we were one of the first to use Agile software development and eXtreme Programming, ging the full monty.
The company was later disemboweled and I had to move on. But the former staff are still the leaders in agile in Belgium.
So what did I learn?
It is possible to build a company without hierarchy, with a focus on learning. The result was an environment that generated learning, knowledge, innovation, wisdom even. Because a company is about the people working there.
By now, this idea is becoming mainstream. And that is good, as it will lead to more interesting work, more motivated staff and continuous innovation...