Companies like Zappos are experimenting with flat management hierarchies, in which no one has a title or a boss and the organization revolves around the work that needs to be done, not the people who tell others how to do it.
(Photo Credit: opensourceway/Flickr)
The system is called Holacracry. Developed by a small software and trademarked by consultancy HolacracyOne, it promises a system with results rather than job titles. But does it work? Zappos’ Alexis Gonzales-Black tells Wired that the system is going up against history and generations of wiring.
“We humans love the idea that we know where the buck stops,” she says. “That’s a perfectly natural inclination to want and to desire.”
In the end, though, she thinks Holacracy will win out over people’s fears and habits. If it does, the company might realize a few benefits:
1. Fewer problems stemming from office politics.
Traditional hierarchies separate people, the theory goes, so that it’s easier to create an us-versus-them mentality. Wipe out the hierarchy, and we’re just one big happy family.
2. Greater focus on the work.
Without the distractions and inefficiencies created by rigid hierarchy, workers can concentrate on the stuff that makes money and build’s the company’s reputation: the work.
3. More flexibility.
A company is never the same organization as it was ten years ago. By allowing units to self-determine and adapt, this system promises a leaner, meaner company that changes with the times.
The real test, of course, will be to see whether companies who adopt a similar organizational structure are able to maintain the spirit of the project, or if human nature will find a way to create hierarchies where none, officially, exist.
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