Holocracy: A New Look for Zappos

by Tyler Starr

There are many styles of management that people use to run companies. With so much competition between corporations in the current market, businesses will do anything that they can to get a slight edge over their competitors. There are some companies that are moving to a new style of management known as holocracy. Like anything, there are pros and cons to moving to this style of management and Zappos went all in when it came to switching to holocracy.

The holocracy style of management is a way of getting rid of the traditional chain of command where there is an ultimate decision maker that will have the absolute final choice about what happens to the company. This also means that even if someone has an idea that they would like to try they have to run it passed others within the group before it can be put into use. The others in the group have to be on board with the idea as well. This system completely does away with the position of a manager and all employees must be ready to give their input on the things that are going on. If they don’t serve a purpose or help out with the tasks at hand within their group then they are not needed and could be let go. Holocracy allows for all of its people to assume a managerial role from time to time and lead certain projects. Any employee could set the agenda for a meeting if they feel that it is a necessary item to be discussed.

Zappos adopted this style of management because the man in charge, Tony Hsieh, wanted to change things up and take a new approach to the way that the company was run. Hopocracy was something that hadn’t been done very much in the past and it would be a complete overhaul to the company’s current situation. As always, when there is a drastic change of that magnitude, the results are going to be just as drastic as the change. Whether that would be for the better or for the worse is the problem at hand when trying to make such a choice about how your company is run.

Hopocracy, just like any other style of management in the workplace, has its advantages and its disadvantages. One of the advantages that hopocracy holds is that it gives lower level employees that usually give little to no input into projects or situations the chance to present what they would like to say. This is good because you never know what kind of ideas or plans somebody might have been keeping to themselves because they weren’t in a position that allowed them to feel comfortable expressing themselves to the rest of their coworkers. Now that they have the same amount of authority as the rest of their fellow employees they will feel much more comfortable putting themselves out there in front of everybody.

With the good side of switching to hopocracy, comes the bad side. It is going to take longer to get ideas put into motion with this plan because even if the idea is amazing it has to be passed through the process of talking about it to your group and that takes a longer time than if somebody in a management position were to just assign people to getting their job done. Another drawback of switching to a hopocratic work environment from a traditional hierarchy is that there are going to people who have worked a long career to achieve a management position. When the switch occurs, these people will be, in a way, demoted back to a much more equal level as the rest of the employees. Although they will probably emerge as some of the best group leaders when the hopocracy is in full swing, they will have lost a lot of their authority.

Gelles, D. (2015, July 17). At Zappos, Pushing Shoes and a Vision. Retrieved September 21, 2016, fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/business/at-zappos-selling-shoes-and-a-vision.html?_r=1

How It Works. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2016, from http://www.holacracy.org/how-it-works/

Markman, A. (2016). The Unseen Consequences Of Hypocritical Leadership. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3060838/do-leaders-have-anything-to-gain-by-being-hypocritical 

Reingold, J. (2016, March 4). How a Radical Shift Left Zappos Reeling. Retrieved September 21, 2016, fromhttp://fortune.com/zappos-tony-hsieh-holacracy


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