A Company Without Job Titles Will Still Have Hierarchies | Harrison Monarth | HBR Blog

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

“Radically flat. That’s the management goal that Tony Hseih, founder of e-commerce giant Zappos, aims to achieve by the end of 2014. To get there, Hsieh plans to toss out the traditional corporate hierarchy by eliminating titles among his 1,500 employees that can lead to bottlenecks in decision-making. The end result: a holacracy centered around self-organizing teams who actively push the entire business forward.”

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

In this strange article, organization, hierarchy, and status is treated exclusively as a psychological issue. There is not a word about the need to get the organization’s work done, and its implications in terms of responsibility and authority.

For example, you need a process to resolve differences of opinion on what needs to be done. Particularly when the choice is not obvious, you need one person mandated to make a decision and take responsibility for the consequences. It’s called a manager.

As an employee, at any level, you need someone who speaks for the company and can tell you its expectations. It’s called a boss.

It may be psychological uncomfortable to follow procedures and report to another human being, but it is generally recognized as a price you have to pay to get 10 people — or 300,000 — to work effectively towards a common goal.

Remove all these structures and procedures, and what do you get? Self-organized teams doing great work? Or indecision, frustration, bullying, and chaos?

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2 comments on “A Company Without Job Titles Will Still Have Hierarchies | Harrison Monarth | HBR Blog

  1. You obviously missed the point of that article. Did you even read it? In it, the author’s point is that no matter what the organizational structure is, flat or highly hierarchical, considerations of status will have an influence on human behavior. In no part of that article did it say that managers are not needed or don’t have an important function. if anything, it questioned quite rightly whether a manager-less culture like a holacracy can be sustained.

    • To give you more credit than you give me, I will say that I did not express myself clearly. My problem with the article is that it treats the issue solely in terms of psychology. The primary reason for having a structure is not meeting the psychological needs of employees, but meeting the organization’s obligations to the rest of the world, including customers, suppliers, and society at large.

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