Zappos made headlines in 2013 when it announced plans to transition to holacracy -- a management-free corporate structure. One of the biggest motivating factors behind Zappos' decision to restructure isn't that different from what plenty of other well-established companies are seeking: cultivating a startup culture.
Realistically, startups are known for long and grueling hours, high failure rates, low starting pay and small teams -- but they're also known for unique benefits, committed and enthusiastic employees and strong collaboration between teams. And that's what Zappos hopes holacracy will bring to its company by breaking down barriers and fostering a strong sense of inclusion and communication.
What is holacracy?
Holacracy isn't a term invented by Zappos, rather, it's a movement bent on reshaping corporate America. It's about self-organizing, so instead of waiting around for a boss to tell you what to do, you take the reigns as an employee -- or as a team -- and jump right into projects and collaboration.
Over the course of a couple of years, Zappos has slowly weaned the entire company off the traditional concept of bosses. Departments now function as groups, or circles, of people working towards the same goal, rather than miniature hierarchies within the overall hierarchy of the corporation. The focus isn't so much on titles and position within the company, but the corporate goals and how to achieve success.
And when it comes to defining holacracy much of it falls on the shoulders of the employees. "We've given all 1,300 employees the opportunity to make structural changes to their job and their team to help move the business forward," says Jordan Sams, from Zappos' Holacracy Implementation Team. They are the ones required to adjust and define their new roles within the overall structure, since the entire concept centers around being proactive, rather than reactive in your job.
The Role Marketplace
Holacracy also helped teams at Zappos become more organized and proactive in finding the right people to help with major projects by opening up work to employees outside their team on what they refer to as, the Role Marketplace. The Role Martketplace is basically an internal job board with specific tasks and jobs that other departments need completed along with the percentage of time they estimate it will take out of a person's schedule. That way if one team needs something completed that they feel will take 5 percent of someone's time, they can go ahead and list it and wait to see if anyone bites. Rather than having to go through the ranks and get approvals for hiring or outsourcing, they can quickly locate the talent within Zappos' ranks.
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