Zappo’s Eliminates Job Titles, But To Err Is Human

I just read an article in Entrepreneur that stated Zappos, the Dali Lama of corporate zen (engagement, radical org shifts, etc.) is feng shui – ing it.  They are to eliminate all job titles. To do this they are implementing a web-based software called GlassFrog.  

Their new org structure is called a Holocracy.  Hierarchy will be replaced by job circles that are task/ project based.  Everyone in the circle has equal voice. No red tape, no politics, no hierarchy, total transparency, no ego. 

Nice concept if it weren’t for the human condition. 

I’ve yet to see a group of folks, especially in a work environment, eliminate any of those things totally.  Why?  Humans like to prove we are better than others.  Check out Jonah Berger’s book Contagious.  Studies show people are extremely motivated by doing better than peers. 

Ego is part of genetics.  I’m not sure circles will eliminate that. 

Alpha’s typically emerge in any group.  When I was in elementary school someone always emerged as Han Solo.  

Politics is synonymous with corporations.  And church.  And theatre.  And sports.  Competition for time, to be heard, to have influence,  to have your idea chosen, and your agenda propelled means ending up on the right side of the decision maker. 

It will be very interesting to follow this experiment.  I hope it works.  In the least here are some best practices from Holocracy that could work in any organizational structure. 

  • have real time meetings
  • focus on next-steps
  • don’t focus on over analysis
  • create ground rules for interactions
  • know who owns what
  • metrics matter.  How will you measure success?

More to come on this I am sure.  




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Dawn Hrdlica-Burke

VP People & Culture/ Talent Consulting at Kinetix. Advisor. Speaker. Writer.

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