After making its move to the new downtown Las Vegas campus as part of Tony Hsieh’s Las Vegas revitalization quest, Zappos is making another radical change.
No more job titles. No more managers. No more hierarchical decisions. By this time next year, Zappos’s 1,500 workers will be organized into something called a holacracy.
Holacracy is a little known organizational management system that’s is gaining a toehold in the business world. Zappos, so far, is its biggest adopter. Holacracy takes its name from the Greek word holos, a single, autonomous, self-sufficient unit, that is, at the same time, dependent on a larger unit. Think of a human cell’s relationship to the entire body.
Brian Robertson, founder of HolacracyOne and advisor to Zappos and other companies on how to adopt holacracy describes human beings as sensors who observe errors and inefficiencies in systems, and can intuit possible fixes. He describes the gap between what is (current reality) and what could be as a “tension.”
In traditional corporate hierarchies Robertson found that employees who observed inefficiencies or had ideas for improvements would have to go to a boss, who would go to their boss, who would go to their boss and so on. Often this critical information that could lead the company to meaningful change simply slipped through the cracks. “When there is lack of clear and effective channels for processing tensions,” Robertson says, it can leave people frustrated, burnt-out, and disengaged.
So how does holacracy work? Continue reading