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(Washington Post)   Zappos announces that it will be getting rid of all job titles, bosses, managers, and other "hierarchical" structures that stifle the soaring creativity it takes to sell crap online   (washingtonpost.com ) divider line
    More: Stupid, Zappos, job descriptions, creativity  
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1295 clicks; posted to Business » on 06 Jan 2014 at 7:16 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-06 07:11:50 PM  
From my understanding, that's how Valva does it.  Seems to work for them...
 
2014-01-06 07:22:11 PM  
Zappos announces that it will be getting rid of all job titles, bosses, managers, and other "hierarchical" structures that stifle the soaring creativity it takes to sell crap online overhead so they can have a bigger profit margin
 
2014-01-06 07:24:33 PM  
Zappos going out of business in 3...2...1...
 
2014-01-06 07:32:44 PM  
A newspaper owned by Amazon's CEO reporting about an Amazon division. I don't see any conflict of interest in that.
 
2014-01-06 07:38:41 PM  
Good luck.
 
2014-01-06 07:43:08 PM  
i.imgur.com
 
2014-01-06 07:48:01 PM  
So now everybody will have the responsibility of a manager, without the increased pay or any authority to actually get anything done. Brilliant!
 
2014-01-06 07:49:28 PM  
Does some big outdoors ware company like Marmot do this?
 
2014-01-06 07:58:10 PM  
So in other words: Dig your own grave and save? Troy McClure would be proud.
 
2014-01-06 08:05:29 PM  
What's the staffing structure like at Zombo.com?
 
2014-01-06 08:06:05 PM  
I suppose they'll do away with that tiered salary thing, too, right?

Right?
 
2014-01-06 08:13:29 PM  

Rent Party: I suppose they'll do away with that tiered salary thing, too, right?

Right?


Riiiiiiight.  Authority will now be keyed to pay grade.  There are only 4, and they overlap by large margins ... except the top one for the executives.

/ It's the American Way!
 
2014-01-06 08:13:51 PM  

timujin: From my understanding, that's how Valva Vulva does it....


FTFY
 
2014-01-06 08:21:37 PM  
So there will be the "assistant to the assistant ass-kissing-joke" job title now?
 
2014-01-06 08:22:04 PM  

Rent Party: I suppose they'll do away with that tiered salary thing, too, right?

Right?


Its management's way of making people feel "empowered" while they still make a shiatload more than the average employee.

You are still on the bottom circle biatch!
 
2014-01-06 08:22:31 PM  
FTFA: "the idea is to replace the traditional corporate chain of command with a series of overlapping, self-governing "circles."

Scott Adams (Dilbert) got a lot of mileage out this sort of thing.
 
2014-01-06 08:23:53 PM  
That's how Valve does it, and we all know where that got them.
 
2014-01-06 08:24:59 PM  

dionysusaur: Rent Party: I suppose they'll do away with that tiered salary thing, too, right?

Right?

Riiiiiiight.  Authority will now be keyed to pay grade.  There are only 4, and they overlap by large margins ... except the top one for the executives.

/ It's the American Way!


"Hi, I'm your new 60k-75k".
 
2014-01-06 09:23:35 PM  
So like a lot of things, this CAN work, but it probably won't.

Among other things, it tends to be really great at super-small startups, where you don't have teams, you just have a bunch of individual engineers who happen to know more or less about certain parts of the codebase, but can work on anything.  And then you expand and you figure out WHY all the big companies have the bureaucracy.

/And then you become Microsoft and the 6 layers of managers spend 100% of their day in meetings so that the programmers only have to spend 50% of their day in meetings.
//Seriously, I got more work done after 6:00 than I did from 9-6 at that job (which is one of the reasons why I freely admit that internship was a disaster).
 
2014-01-06 09:38:30 PM  
It doesn't work.  People just sort themselves into the same, but now unspoken (and thus objectively unaddressable) cliques and hierarchies they otherwise would anyway.

It's like how some companies are going for "unlimited vacation," when in actuality, the combined peer pressure and the competitive nature of the review process causes a race to see who can take the least.
 
2014-01-06 09:59:32 PM  
meyerkev: And then you become Microsoft and the 6 layers of managers spend 100% of their day in meetings so that the programmers only have to spend 50% of their day in meetings.

Was offered a job as an IT manager for an Insurance company back in the mid-90's.  The Director told me that I would be required to be there from 6am to 6pm M-F, in a suit and tie at all times, and all of that time would be spent in meetings.  Any time needed to actually *manage* my team would be over and above that.  "So figure 90 hours a week or so"

The pay offered was 87% higher than I was then making... working 25 hours a week as a contractor.

NOPE.

Now my current boss, who is looking to retire in a couple of years, is hinting that he'd like me to consider working toward his position.  Which involves working over 80 hours a week and routinely being called at 2-3am.

no no no no no no no.

/how the fark do you manage a team when you can only do it after hours or on the weekend?
//I guess you become a dick and make your people work those hours so that you can meet and communicate with them.
 
2014-01-06 10:11:12 PM  
As long as I can still buy shoes, try them on, and return them with no shipping charges, I don't care what they do.

Zappos has always had a very different take on business hierarchy, the CEO/founder sat in the same size cube as everyone else.
 
2014-01-06 10:28:17 PM  
The best people I've worked "for" always made me feel like I was working "with" them.  Once I was in management, I tried to pass that quality along, and it's served me well.  But the worst time of my professional life was as "team lead."  That's a manager that isn't being paid as a manager, has no control, but is still accountable for team failures.  That sounds like the model they are trying to implement, except they are going to find the team lead "Lord of the Flies" style.  They are also going to find the weakest link LOTF style.

But if they are holding the leads responsible for having weak employees - that won't work.  It will quickly devolve into several teams of producers and one really, really shiatty team.  And the team lead of that shiatty team might be a great employee, but he's working with absolute shiat.  He's like a teacher in an inner-city school being compared to one in a rich suburb.

This model doesn't even work unless everyone is grappling for the crumbs on the floor.  Without the notion of advancement, it becomes a floor fight.
 
2014-01-06 10:28:48 PM  

Famous Thamas: As long as I can still buy shoes, try them on, and return them with no shipping charges, I don't care what they do.

Zappos has always had a very different take on business hierarchy, the CEO/founder sat in the same size cube as everyone else.




Zappos is run pretty much like a cult, so I expect the Scientologist to buy them from Amazon any day now.
 
2014-01-06 11:46:42 PM  
"Do you know how many bosses I have, Bob? Me neither."
 
2014-01-06 11:47:05 PM  

Nonrepeating Rotating Binary: /how the fark do you manage a team when you can only do it after hours or on the weekend?


So a lot of those meetings were:

2-3PM: Meet with Drone #1 to manage him
3-4PM: Meet with Drone #2 to manage him
4-5PM: Weekly status meeting where everyone tries to figure out what the hell everyone else is doing and the PM (who speaks such incredibly accented English that she might as well not speak it at all) either drops a bombshell from another team (whom we never talk to) or

The BIG problem that Microsoft has is that you have to get 43 people to sign off on a feature.  Because you have planners and architects and designers and ..., and so they all have to talk, and they need to get people onboard and up-to-speed, and then for very good reasons, your copy of their code is a month behind their code (and vice versa) so you're continuously bug-fixing.   http://moishelettvin.blogspot.com/2006/11/windows-shutdown-crapfest.h t ml

And honestly, that's an inherent problem in organizations of that size with codebases of that age and complexity.  There's no other way to do it.  There's too many moving parts, there's too much information, too many fiefdoms.  You can't have one person holding it in their head (unless you're Steve Jobs with all the pros and cons that that brings, and from everything I've heard, Bill Gate's big *thing* was in being the anti-Steve, and trusting that he had bright people who would figure it out (which at least in the early days, he did)).
 
2014-01-07 01:20:58 AM  
http://www.develop-online.net/news/valve-s-perfect-hiring-hierarchy-ha s-hidden-management-clique-like-high-school/0115316

"Their structure probably works really well with about 20 people, but breaks down terribly when you get to a company of 300 people. Communication was a problem. That's where management... Well if I had anything to do differently, would be to make sure a layer of management could do communication correctly."
 
2014-01-07 02:22:47 AM  
Every time I see zapdos in print, the first thing I think of is the legendary Pokémon, and only on the second iteration do I realize it's the company.
 
2014-01-07 02:55:35 AM  

Sim Tree: Every time I see zapdos in print, the first thing I think of is the legendary Pokémon, and only on the second iteration do I realize it's the company.


Heh..."zapdos" was a batch file a friend of mine made for running on Best Buy display computers. I'm not going to tell you what it did, but it was pretty funny.
 
2014-01-07 04:41:08 AM  
Most think tanks have come to the same conclusion. American corporations should be organized using the Klingon concept of Honor.
 
2014-01-07 06:03:41 AM  

Phil Moskowitz: Most think tanks have come to the same conclusion. American corporations should be organized using the Klingon concept of Honor.


I've always thought salaries and job duties should be assigned by the only truly fair method: You throw darts at two boards: one has job duties, and the other has salaries. You then take whatever combination you throw.
 
2014-01-07 06:11:33 AM  
replace the traditional corporate chain of command with a series of overlapping, self-governing "circles."

What could possibly go wrong?
 
2014-01-07 06:35:40 AM  

untaken_name: I've always thought salaries and job duties should be assigned by the only truly fair method: You throw darts at two boards: one has job duties, and the other has salaries. You then take whatever combination you throw.


Which also comes in handy in the intercorporate darts league.  The company's victories would corelate with their salary levels.
 
2014-01-07 07:20:27 AM  

abhorrent1: replace the traditional corporate chain of command with a series of overlapping, self-governing "circles."

What could possibly go wrong?


Welcome to the Hookers'N'Blow Circle...you'll like it here.
 
2014-01-07 10:39:06 AM  
In my experience, the very best organizations are just that...organizations. They are organized. And that organizing occurs at every level, but especially at the top. Everyone has a clearly understood role to play on their team, and everyone has respect for everyone else's role in the process because everyone shares a common goal. Things get done, and they get done on time and on budget.

In my experience, the very worst organizations are chaotic...and that chaos comes from the top down. Objectives shift from day to day, and hour to hour. Most people spend their time hunkered down in conference rooms, talking about work getting done instead of actually doing productive things. And everyone shares the same unspoken goals: deflecting responsibility for getting things done and casting blame when they don't.
 
2014-01-07 10:56:06 AM  

untaken_name: Sim Tree: Every time I see zapdos in print, the first thing I think of is the legendary Pokémon, and only on the second iteration do I realize it's the company.

Heh..."zapdos" was a batch file a friend of mine made for running on Best Buy display computers. I'm not going to tell you what it did, but it was pretty funny.


I'm guessing it deleted DOS?
 
2014-01-07 11:27:45 AM  

Nonrepeating Rotating Binary: meyerkev: And then you become Microsoft and the 6 layers of managers spend 100% of their day in meetings so that the programmers only have to spend 50% of their day in meetings.

Was offered a job as an IT manager for an Insurance company back in the mid-90's.  The Director told me that I would be required to be there from 6am to 6pm M-F, in a suit and tie at all times, and all of that time would be spent in meetings.  Any time needed to actually *manage* my team would be over and above that.  "So figure 90 hours a week or so"

The pay offered was 87% higher than I was then making... working 25 hours a week as a contractor.

NOPE.

Now my current boss, who is looking to retire in a couple of years, is hinting that he'd like me to consider working toward his position.  Which involves working over 80 hours a week and routinely being called at 2-3am.

no no no no no no no.

/how the fark do you manage a team when you can only do it after hours or on the weekend?
//I guess you become a dick and make your people work those hours so that you can meet and communicate with them.


Sounds like Bloomington, Ill
 
2014-01-07 12:05:24 PM  

Mr_Fabulous: In my experience, the very best organizations are just that...organizations. They are organized. And that organizing occurs at every level, but especially at the top. Everyone has a clearly understood role to play on their team, and everyone has respect for everyone else's role in the process because everyone shares a common goal. Things get done, and they get done on time and on budget.

In my experience, the very worst organizations are chaotic...and that chaos comes from the top down. Objectives shift from day to day, and hour to hour. Most people spend their time hunkered down in conference rooms, talking about work getting done instead of actually doing productive things. And everyone shares the same unspoken goals: deflecting responsibility for getting things done and casting blame when they don't.


Oh god so much of both of those. The worst place my company ever sent me was this place where I had to help fix their shipping and recieving dept. They had piles of Fed Ex packages waiting to go out in one room that couldnt go out until they were "inspected" by this senior manager. Thing was he was always "too busy" to inspect them. They had pacakges going back 3 weeks, things like checks and bills were in them. When I asked around about it people said that is how it had been for a few years because people were sending out way too many personal packages. I got into it several times with that senior manager, one time he almost got violent with me, I wish he did it would have saved time. When I presented my report about what was wrong and needed to be fixed I made sure to put his name front and center and his inspection room as well. They fired him a month or so after I left and what a shock profits shot back up.
 
2014-01-07 12:06:06 PM  
Great for your career outside Zappos:

"I see here you are a 47 year-old 'Individual Contributor', and you are interested in our VP of This, That and The Other Thing position. Well, thanks for your time and we'll be in touch."
 
2014-01-07 12:43:36 PM  

Sim Tree: untaken_name: Sim Tree: Every time I see zapdos in print, the first thing I think of is the legendary Pokémon, and only on the second iteration do I realize it's the company.

Heh..."zapdos" was a batch file a friend of mine made for running on Best Buy display computers. I'm not going to tell you what it did, but it was pretty funny.

I'm guessing it deleted DOS?


How'd you know? I'm sure I didn't tell you...
 
2014-01-07 04:34:45 PM  

Lsherm: The best people I've worked "for" always made me feel like I was working "with" them.  Once I was in management, I tried to pass that quality along, and it's served me well.  But the worst time of my professional life was as "team lead."  That's a manager that isn't being paid as a manager, has no control, but is still accountable for team failures.  That sounds like the model they are trying to implement, except they are going to find the team lead "Lord of the Flies" style.  They are also going to find the weakest link LOTF style.

But if they are holding the leads responsible for having weak employees - that won't work.  It will quickly devolve into several teams of producers and one really, really shiatty team.  And the team lead of that shiatty team might be a great employee, but he's working with absolute shiat.  He's like a teacher in an inner-city school being compared to one in a rich suburb.

This model doesn't even work unless everyone is grappling for the crumbs on the floor.  Without the notion of advancement, it becomes a floor fight.


Yeah, I've been a team lead a few different times in my life. It sucked without exception. Just as you said, you're responsible for performance without any authority to compel. But perhaps the worst part is that the team  now considers you "management", but management considers you "labor". So, you wind up eating lunch alone.
 
2014-01-07 09:30:50 PM  

stewbert: Yeah, I've been a team lead a few different times in my life. It sucked without exception. Just as you said, you're responsible for performance without any authority to compel. But perhaps the worst part is that the team now considers you "management", but management considers you "labor". So, you wind up eating lunch alone.


-Depends on the place.  The team leads at my employer are most certainly considered to be management, and they have power to hire and fire (within company guidelines and budget, obviously).  I can't imagine why anyone would create a setup where the lead has no power do deal with lazy, worthless or problematic employees.
 
2014-01-07 11:30:26 PM  

State_College_Arsonist: I can't imagine why anyone would create a setup where the lead has no power do deal with lazy, worthless or problematic employees.


You can't imagine why someone would want a position under them to absorb all the flack from the grunts while not actually having any power to effect change? You must not know many managers.
 
2014-01-08 03:31:27 AM  

untaken_name: State_College_Arsonist: I can't imagine why anyone would create a setup where the lead has no power do deal with lazy, worthless or problematic employees.

You can't imagine why someone would want a position under them to absorb all the flack from the grunts while not actually having any power to effect change? You must not know many managers.


Most managers I know are under the metrics gun.  If their subordinates do poorly, they have to do something or face consequences.  They would much rather prefer to let someone else deal with the troublemakers, leaving them more time to deal with all the other management BS.
 
2014-01-08 04:09:15 AM  

State_College_Arsonist: untaken_name: State_College_Arsonist: I can't imagine why anyone would create a setup where the lead has no power do deal with lazy, worthless or problematic employees.

You can't imagine why someone would want a position under them to absorb all the flack from the grunts while not actually having any power to effect change? You must not know many managers.

Most managers I know are under the metrics gun.  If their subordinates do poorly, they have to do something or face consequences.  They would much rather prefer to let someone else deal with the troublemakers, leaving them more time to deal with all the other management BS.


Ah. My experience has been that when metrics are considered important, metrics are massaged, tweaked, manipulated, distorted, spun, or outright fabricated to make management look as good as possible. No one above middle management seemed capable of seeing through the deception, or they just pretended not to because things looked good on the spreadsheets.
 
2014-01-08 07:05:05 AM  

jaerik: It doesn't work.  People just sort themselves into the same, but now unspoken (and thus objectively unaddressable) cliques and hierarchies they otherwise would anyway.

It's like how some companies are going for "unlimited vacation," when in actuality, the combined peer pressure and the competitive nature of the review process causes a race to see who can take the least.


As somebody who worked for Zappos for two years I'd say you nailed it. The environment there is very, very cliquey. Personally I couldn't stand it. Incredibly fake group of people with their 'enforced wackiness'. However, Tony Hsieh and his team will probably make it work. That man knows how to run a business well. He's a decent guy and really knows how to throw a company party.
 
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