Designed by Juan Pablo Bravo from the Noun Project

Designed by Juan Pablo Bravo from the Noun Project

Zappos recently announced their decision to get rid of all hierarchy (managers, bosses, executives, etc.) in favor of a “holacracy.” 

Developed by a former software entrepreneur, the idea is to replace the traditional corporate chain of command with a series of overlapping, self-governing “circles.” In theory, this gives employees more of a voice in the way the company is run. . . At its core, a holacracy aims to organize a company around the work that needs to be done instead of around the people who do it. As a result, employees do not have job titles. They are typically assigned to several roles that have explicit expectations. Rather than working on a single team, employees are usually part of multiple circles that each perform certain functions.

Zappos estimates it will take six months or more for its employees to get the hang of it. But, as The Washington Post points out, it might take a lot longer than that:

Bob Sutton, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and author of the forthcoming book “Scaling Up Excellence“, says “show me any group of five human beings or five apes or five dogs, and I want to see the one where a status difference does not emerge. It’s who we are as creatures.”

Is this overly idealistic or a better way of managing?

Read the rest in here.

  • Kevin Edwards

    You can take away titles all you want, but true leaders are going to lead whether they have a title or not…and people will follow the leader.

  • Kevin Edwards

    That’s very possible, but that isn’t what I got from the post. It seemed that it was more about breaking down the rigidness of the structure to give the employees more of a voice. Either way, I’m intrigued by the approach and will be curious to see how it works in the long run.

    • Kosio Angelov

      I’ve read a few articles on the topic so I think what I said in my previous comment was my general take-away. You are right, this particular article spins the news in a different direction.

      I guess, we shall see in a few months how things work out for Zappos.

  • Jenny McChesney

    A flat org chart is no org chart.

  • William D

    They have roles and circles. How is that different than jobs and org units?. The role names are their job titles. This is just a semantic exercise.

  • Kathleen (Kathie) Clohessy

    Decades of research proves that in all but very limited types of employment (i.e. factory work) a hierarchical business structure does not work–collaboration, autonomy and individual responsibility does. People in creative roles–which is just about everyone but those who do repetitive, task-oriented piece-work– work harder, longer and better when typical organizational AND typical pay structures change. Many high tech companies already employ this model very effectively. It’s about time someone else caught on.

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