Zappos says bye-bye to the concept of managers

by jeffhilimire on January 13, 2014

Zappos is getting rid of its managers and creating a holacracy, wherin a company has:

  • No people managers. Maximum autonomy.
  • Organic expansion. When a job gets too big, hire another person.
  • Tension resolution. Identify issues people are facing, write them down, and resolve them systematically.
  • Make everything explicit – from vacation policies to decision makers in each area.
  • Distribute decision – making power and discourage consensus seeking.
  • Eliminate all the extraneous factors that worry people so they can focus on work.

You can read more about the concept of a holacracy on David’s blog.

I’m less specifically interested in the concept of the holacracy and more interested in the idea of breaking the current corporate paradigm. The concept of no managers must be terrifying to some people, as I’m sure the concept of no meetings is equally scary to some.

At Dragon Army, given that we’re a small, very creative team, I’m trying to make sure we don’t fall into the same traps as most companies, forcing management and meetings into the process not because its necessary but because its what we’re accustomed to. But we still struggle with the balance between when meetings are needed and when they are a burden, so its a work-in-progress.

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 6.10.59 AM

Our small team at Dragon Army (hanging with the mayor).

I applaud Zappos for trying this with an already humming group of 1,500 employees. I can’t imagine how difficult that will be to achieve but I have a lot of faith in their CEO, Tony Hsieh (read his book). So it will be fun to watch.

I’ll end by saying that this very concept – the idea that “corporate culture” produces too much management, meetings and politics – is why I needed to get back to a startup. And where I was coming from wasn’t even that bad, but that’s the kind of stuff that I just can’t handle. It’s why I like small teams and why I’m thrilled to be where I am. God willing we will have success and grow and I’ll get to try to make sure this company doesn’t fall into the same traps.

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