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

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“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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Michel Baudin’s review of The Spirit of Kaizen | Amazon.com

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The key message of this book is that, no matter what your situation is, you should only try to improve it with small changes and that large changes never work because “we are built to resist radical change.” The author explains that the perspective of change sets off an alarm in a part of your brain called the amygdala, which confuses the change with a charging lion, triggers a flight-or-fight response, and prevents you from thinking rationally.

According to the author, a series of small steps works because they manage not to set off your alarms, and you are like the legendary frog who doesn’t react to small increases in water temperature until he is boiled. But wait! The author does not use this metaphor. To him, the fear response is purely irrational. The production manager who has spent 25 years working up from the shop floor should have no fear of losing her job to the young whippersnapper touting the latest change program.

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