One well-known company doesn’t think so. According to Cnet, Zappos will, by the end of 2014, eliminate “all job titles and managers in a corporate structure, leaving nearly every employee on equal footing.” Quoting the news site Quartz,
Zappos is going all-in on the system and will create approximately 400 “circles” made up of a group of employees that will be tasked with projects. The group must work together — sans hierarchy — to do their jobs.
This is fascinating. A couple of observations;
- The system isn’t totally without hierarchy — somebody is doing the tasking. Note the “nearly every employee.”
- It will be interesting to see if new hierarchies form within the circles, and what mechanism they evolve to form and un-form circles.
- The Danish hearing device company Oticon has been experimenting with similar ideas since the late 1980s.
- Boyd didn’t say anything about how to organize a military unit or a business. He once told me that he had a preference for “bottom up” because such an orientation fostered initiative and creativity. On the other hand, if you look at his description of mission (Patterns 76), it’s clear that he was thinking in terms of hierarchies.
We should pay close attention to Zappos’s experiment and, of course,wish them the best.