According to “No Managers Required: How Zappos Ditched The Old Corporate Structure For Something New”, by the end of 2014, Zappos.com will have dismantled their corpo pyramid. Under the stewardship of maverick CEO Tony Hsieh, the 1500 employee company will be transitioned into a “holacracy” of 400, self-governing circles.
Talk about having huge cajones. Just think of the disruptive risk to business performance of making such a daring structural/operational change to a billion dollar enterprise.
Although I look forward to watching how the transformation plays out, I’m a bit skeptical that Mr. Hsieh can pull it off. After visiting the site of the “consultant” that will be advising the company during the transition (holacracy.org) and browsing through the ungodly long, complicated, formal Holacracy Constitution, the first thought that came to mind was “D’oh!“.
Twitter friend and guest blogger @serialmom sums up the situation with this insightful tweet:
Vineet Nayar (HCL Technologies), Jim Goodnight (SAS Institute), Ricardo Semler (Semco), Terri Kelly (W. L. Gore), Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com), and John Mackey (Whole Foods Market). I try to follow and listen to what these CEOs say because they’re different, refreshing, authentic, and most importantly, eminently tweetable.
I’m happy to announce that I’ve just added Red Hat’s Jim Whitehurst to my CEO “watch and learn” list:
The quotes were plucked from “Management Tips From Red Hat’s Crazy Culture Every Company Should Steal”.
I’ve been trying to figure out why I admire Zappos.com (I know, I know, they had a nasty security breach recently), Semco, and HCL Technologies so much. Since I have a burning need to understand “why“, I’ve concocted at least one reason: Tony Hsieh, Ricardo Semler, and Vineet Nayar ensure that fierce transparency is practiced within their companies and all their “initiatives” are rooted there.
Working in an environment without transparency is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the finished picture is supposed to look like. – Vineet Nayar. Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Kindle Location 547). Kindle Edition.
Of course, I’m making up all this transparency stuff, but hey, it reinforces my weltanschauung (<- I had to look up the spelling a-freakin-gain!). That’s what humans do to give themselves comfort. No?
In case you were wondering, Z6 stands for Zappos core value number 6:
I’m a huge Zappos fan and a VIP member (which means free overnight shipping for any purchase!). Thus, I get daily e-mails from zappos.com on special deals. The snippet you see above appeared at the bottom of one of those e-mails.
The joyful reason for this post is that Zappos is (rightfully) tenacious about promoting their 10 core values both internally and externally. CEO Tony Hsieh and his merry band truly understand how difficult it is to sustain and maintain a culture of joy and excellence – which is a pre-requisite to both financial and emotional success. Thus, with every chance they get, which includes the daily e-mail, they spread the word.
How about your company? Do you even know what their core values are, let alone “walk the talk“? Nah, an approach like Zappos’s won’t work there, right? It’s simply auto-assumed that writing down some inarguable altruisms and pontificating about them from time to time does the trick. There are more important issues to tend to, no?
Several months ago, when I bought and read Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh‘s “Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose” book, I signed up for the VHP (Very Happy Person) program. I also followed the “Happiness Bus” around as it cheerfully toured the USA, spreading a little bit of happiness at every stop.
Recently, I received in the mail, unsolicited and free of charge, a cool little thank you package filled with these five goodies:
Since the care package contains a copy of the DH book signed by Mr. Happiness himself, Tony Hsieh, I’d like to try and return the favor by spreading a little happiness of my own. Therefore, I’ll send my unsigned copy gratis to the first person who indicates, via the comments section in this post, that they’d like to own it. Hell, I’ll even spring for the postage cost 🙂
Whoo Hoo! I thought of a positive complement to my negative FOSTMA acronym. It’s, it’s, it’s….. NASHMA = Nayar, Semler, Hsieh MAnagement:
Of course, in order to prevent chaos, NASHMA orgs still have hierarchical structures, but they’re not run as stratified caste system CCHs. In NASHMA orgs, there’s real, two way accountability; and symmetric relationships exist up and down all levels. Most managers in NASHMA groups are PHORs and not STSJs who spend all their “valuable” time planning, watching, controlling, and evaluating.
Now mind you, to avoid the trap of dualistic thinking, an org shouldn’t be judged as fully belonging to one class or the other. There can be pockets of FOSTMA groups in a NASHMA org and vice versa. Nevertheless, my scientifically collected and analyzed data revealed this current distribution of institutions along the FOSTMA-NASHMA continuum:
Over time, hopefully the threshold will move to the left – increasing the currently miniscule NASHMA to FOSTMA ratio. However, there will always be powerful and scary psychological forces opposing the movement.
As a huge, huge, huge, (did I say youuuuuuuge-uh?), fan of Tony Hsieh and Zappos.com, I blabber about them often. Zappos latest action to make the whole world, yes, the whole world, a better place is to offer up a free, yes free, download of the audio version of the best seller, yes best seller, book “Tribal Leadership“. The link is here, yes here.
Even though I’ve stalked Zappos.com for years, until recently I’ve never bought anything from them because I’m not a shoe or clothes dude. Hell, I’m an old and unredeemable person of questionable integrity and questionable character and questionable morality and questionable <<add your own trait here if you know me>>, so I renew these things about every 10 years or when they fall apart; whichever comes first. However, even with zero revenue from me, they upgraded me to VIP status. This means that with every order I place, they’ll guarantee free overnight shipping. WTF, you say? Uh, the only answer that I can give to you is: They’re fuckin’ Zappos.com dude, that”s why! Oops, I hope the F-bomb didn’t make you mad and send you to the altar to pray for me. If it did, then maybe you shouldn’t be wasting your time reading this blasphemous blog 🙂