Zappos has quietly backed away from holacracy

Joost
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- 1 min read

Yesterday Aimee Groth wrote a very interesting article on QuartzAtWork about the organizational evolution Zappos has been on for the last years, with the telling title: "Zappos has quietly backed away from holacracy". You can read the article by following this link: https://qz.com/work/1776841/zappos-has-quietly-backed-away-from-holacracy/

She writes: "In the last few years, Zappos has been quietly moving away from holacracy. It has done away with its at-times rigidly (and ironically) bureaucratic meetings and brought back managers, while retaining its circular hierarchy, a key artifact of holacracy."

And "The solution? A marketplace system where teams operate like small businesses and manage their own profit-and-loss statements, rather than focusing on the scope of their holacratic authority to manage the company’s full P&L."

Aimee's observations are very interesting and, to be honest, they don't surprise me much. When we visited Zappos some years ago (when they were rolling out holacracy) several employees told us already that they didn't like holacracy at all. They told us that they were just waiting till Tony Hsieh would move Zappos to the next phase of their experimentation. And that's actually what happened!

To me it seems that Zappos is moving towards an internal marketplace that seems to be a mix of the organizational structures of Haier and WL Gore of which I recently wrote a long blog post: https://corporate-rebels.com/4-future-proof-organizational-models-beyond-hierarchy-and-bureaucracy/

Aimee told us that Rob Solomon is working alongside John Bunch (Zappos Executive) to roll out this new market-based organizational model at Zappos at the moment. You can read more about Rob Solomon in this excellent piece: https://media.consensys.net/cone-the-future-of-decentralized-organizations-f0f2851de46f

What do you think? Is this any surprising? Are they moving into the right direction this time?

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Replies (6)

Joost

Joost

Here is another piece by Zappos with more explaination of their new model which they call 'Market Based Dynamics' or MBD in short:
https://www.zappos.com/about/stories/market-based-dynamics-evolving-zappos

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RobSolomon

RobSolomon

Hmm the Zappos link appears to be broken. I was actually a contributor on the Quartz piece and I currently work with Zappos. Happy to talk more about the cool things they're doing.

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Joost

Joost

Hmm the Zappos link appears to be broken. I was actually a contributor on the Quartz piece and I currently work with Zappos. Happy to talk more about the cool things they're doing.

RobSolomon

Yeah, I know. Strange that the link is not working anymore. What about writing a guestblog about your experiences Rob?

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daheq
RobSolomon

RobSolomon

@Joost working on writing one with John Bunch at Zappos already. Will likely take a little bit though.

@Daheq thank you!

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Joost

Joost

@Joost working on writing one with John Bunch at Zappos already. Will likely take a little bit though.

@Daheq thank you!

RobSolomon

No worries. Looking forward to read your piece with John Bunch.. I will stay tuned

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