In my Facebook feed yesterday, I happened upon a post on Quartz that talked about how the Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, is “managing” the company using the Holocracy Constitution. Once I got past the description of the gathering of the staff in Las Vegas with Airstreams, bonfires and a birthday celebration for Mr. Hsieh, I was a bit captured by the concept of Holocracy. I’ve spent many years in business and this was a new one for me. In my humble opinion (you know everyone has one) this seems more like a zen- based organization than a true method for running the company. (I know, many will disagree.) As I read, I wanted to know more.
It all starts with a man named Brian Robertson. Basically, it started out as management wanting to find a way to make the company run – better, stronger, faster. Gathering principles originally from the Agile approach and then adding more from sociocracy, Mr. Robertson mixed them together for several years of his experiment – and that is what he does state that he was doing.
Yet, it did not quite capture or facilitate the concept of an organization in which the usual hierarchy applied – or rather that groups were not bound to decision-making as a consensus nor did it give the typical “boss” role the sole decision-making ability. Therefore, holocracy was born. “It captured the spirit we were looking for — governance of and by the organizational holarchy; through the people, but not of or for the people.”
With Zappos, under Amazon’s umbrella, Mr. Hsieh seems strongly committed to this operational approach. The company operates via circles, which empower the employees, though the system hasn’t completely satisfied said employees. Adding to the change, Amazon’s SuperCloud infrastructure issues and low salaries compared to the norm have caused some to depart the company. Many still have not embraced the concept and feel that it isn’t productive.
I encourage you to follow the links provided and check out more of the details on Zappos and Holocracy. At least it will be a thought provoker and might even influence how you approach your own business operations. Now, I’m a bit of an organized and structured type of personality so, for me, I don’t think I would do well at Zappos. But in the meantime it will be interesting to watch the company as it progresses with this method of running the business. Oh, and I truly hope it succeeds as I do love my shoes and they are one of my go-to companies for shoes.