Why isn't Holacracy working at Zappos?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by TesTeq, Dec 26, 2016.

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  1. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Holacracy was adopted by David Allen Company too. Is it working as an organizational extension of the GTD methodology? At QZ.COM you can read that after a "successful" implementation companies are rather destroyed "because humans aren't designed to operate like software".
     
  2. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I went to the QZ.com site but it was a mish mash of stuff. Can you provide a link to the exact story about Holacracy and Zappos?
     
  3. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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  5. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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  6. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I just finished reading the book, my comments are over in the book thread in the GTD Connect forums. I bet it has to do with the rigid structure of what is allowed in the various types of meetings.
     
  7. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not. ;-) I hope Holacracy works for DavidCo.
     
  8. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I read the QZ article you linked to and a couple of others about the Zappos implementation, and I'm foggy as to how it could be seen as "an organizational extension of the GTD methodology?" Would you mind elaborating on that a bit?
     
  9. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    BTW, if anyone else is as unfamiliar with Holacracy as I am, here is an article that provides a bit more detail about what it is in concept and how it is being applied at Zappos: http://fortune.com/zappos-tony-hsieh-holacracy/.

    What little I've read about Holacracy at Zappos gives me a negative impression, but it's hard to know if the problem is the Holacracy concept itself, the way it is being implemented at Zappos in particular, or if the two articles I've read are even giving an accurate picture. I'm not even sure I know enough about it to have an informed opinion.
     
  10. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    You are dealing with a Holacracy-based organization daily. It's David Allen Company. There is also the Holacracy discussion thread (mentioned by Oogiem) in the non-public part of the forum.
     
  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    "This call from our “Tributaries of Holacracy” series explores the influence of GTD, the work-life management system, on Holacracy." http://www.holacracy.org/gtd-holacracy/
     
  12. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    That was helpful. Thank you.
     
  13. John Forrister

    John Forrister Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a wonderfully neutral and objective comment. Thanks, bcmyers! It helps to be a discerning consumer of media, because there is quite a lot of mis- and disinformation about Holacracy.

    Coincidentally, the same is true of GTD. Plenty of things have been written by people who didn't bother to learn about—much less get experienced with—the GTD methodology, who nonetheless state that it doesn't work.
     
  14. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Thanks, John. I take your point -- a lot of armchair pundits critique GTD from a position of ignorance. So it is wise to view critiques of Holacracy with at least a bit of skepticism.

    The video discussion between Kelly Forrister and Brian Robertson on the page @TesTeq linked to was enlightening (although I haven't had time to watch it in its entirety yet), as was my brief review the Holacracy web site. Again, I don't know enough to form an opinion about it but it is intriguing to learn about it.

    My bias is to be suspicious of new management philosophies based on my experience living through a bungled implementation of TQM more than two decades ago. Much of the stuff that I've read about the Zappos implementation raises my hackles; for example, if the Fortune article to which I linked is correct about how easily people can lose their jobs if they fail to accumulate enough "people points", that sounds inhumane.

    But as a former journalist, I know full well that even the best of them can fall prey to the temptation to sensationalize. Moreover, even if it is accurate I don't know if this is a core concept of Holacracy or Zappos own interpretation.

    Kelly Forrister's discussion with Brian Robertson (or again, what I was able to view of it) piqued my interest, particularly Kelly's observation about how so many work meetings end without clarity about next actions and owners. My own GTD practice has instilled in me a habit of insisting on such clarity before any meeting concludes. If I understand correctly, Holacracy principles include baking this sort of clarity into meeting formats. Again, I find that intriguing.

    Would you be willing to comment about how well Holacracy works at David Allen Co.? Do you have an opinion about how well it works elsewhere that you'd be willing to share (I understand if that's tough given that your company sells consulting services, seminars, etc. to corporate clients and you may not want to sound critical of current clients or future prospects)?

    If anyone else has experience with Holacracy where they work and would like to comment, I would love to read it. I don't have a basis for opinion but am interested in learning from others about this.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
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  15. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I went through a similar bungled TQM implementation and I too had lots of issues with the Zappos implementation as described in the article referenced and a few more I found. I did just finish the book, and think there are good things with it but still found it not very understanding of the nuances of dealing with real humans rather than computers. I agree that reading the book it is an algorithm and that holacracy may not be suitable for all companies.
     
  16. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Without knowing much about Holacracy, I was thinking about it and the general role of management style and philosophy in different kinds of institutions. Because I work at a university and have some experience with government agencies, religious institutions and other non-business organizations, I've seen a lot of different things work and not work. My tentative conclusion: exposure to GTD is helpful to most people, but "how to run a company" theories like Holacracy have little generality. My favorite is still MBWA: management by walking around. It is not suited for many modern styles of work (I've been spending 2.5 hours a day on Skype working on a manuscript), but it works
     
  17. bcmyers2112

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    After I asked John for his perspective I found a case study on the Holacracy web site wherein David Allen Company CEO Mike Williams discusses how well it's working: http://www.holacracy.org/david-allen-company.

    It's refreshingly frank for a promotional case study, and one thing I noted was Williams' observation that "Holacracy is very much garbage in, garbage out" to the extent that if you use it to focus on small, non-value added stuff that's what you'll get as output. In the larger sense I think the same could be said of all management philosophies: they're only as good as the people implementing them, and what those people put into them.
     
  18. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I think the fact that a lot of buy-in is required is a problem. People are not blank slates when they start a new job: they have hopes, visions, ideas, skills and foibles. The trick is to harness the internal in service to the external.

    One example of what can go wrong is when our new CIO had bottles of sugar pills given to IT staff with a "prescription for IT." When people are concerned about preserving essential services and possibly their jobs, placebos are not helpful in obtaining buy-in.
     
  19. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    People often don't see the difference between MBWA and micromanagement.
    I totally agree that the best results are achieved by managers who care about these results. Not about their power or position but about the results.
     
  20. Avisagie

    Avisagie Registered

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    The company culture needs to ready, allowing them to embrace something like Holacracy, recent article claims that 14% of the staff left after introducing Holacracy.

    Change management practice must be applied, creating the awareness first about why the change is needed will then results in the desire to change, without these two first steps will almost all initiatives fail.


    I like the ADKAR approach towards change management link below

    https://www.prosci.com/adkar/adkar-model
     

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