Reasons Behind Yesterday’s Post

I hit publish, then posted to LinkedIn and Twitter. It took a while, then I had a couple responses. I don’t have a huge following, but nonetheless, there are were a few who did respond.

I said: “I’m just a blogger and certainly don’t have the street cred to have an “official opinion” worth publishing. But that’s what is so cool about the Web. Any hack like me can write about anything. As long as I don’t lie, and break other rules that could land me in the slammer or in debtors’ prison, I can speak my piece.”

It’s true. Millions of blogs and I admit that I, like anyone, can write about anything at any time. (I got called-out on that hack comment)

However, I write about things that I care about. 

I care about the people doing the work. I care about the tools they are given to get their jobs done every day. I care about the fact that employees are repeatedly subjected to the way management deals with problems by invoking their remedies without actually listening to their staff, and asking the simple question, “what exactly do you do and how do you do it”.

So, yeah. I called-out management.

I’m in the business of helping agencies and marketing departments organize (or reorganize), and it always involves implementing new software and/or process to manage their day-to-day work.

But in the process of digging deeper, there is always a reason an agency is looking to software or other tools to organize: Things are out of control.

A new system will make everything better.

I know, with absolute certainty, this is not the case.

I know that you can achieve better efficiencies, collaboration and profitability with good tools. In that, I’m a true believer.

But I also know that there are always underlying issues why things are out of control.

When I’m invited in to peel-back the layers of processes, rules, charts, forms, and systems a client is currently using to manage work (and there are usually dozens) – I always find a certain level of dysfunction that lead to all those issues.

Systems are broken, conflicts in process abound, workarounds emerge, everyone becomes overloaded, while valuable information is scattered across desktops, servers, email, and cloud systems.

We find solutions and fix or replace current systems; but we also have to allow the staff to unload, de-compress and adopt the new systems. This isn’t simple, easy or fast.

So when I read that the CEO of Zappos is fast-forwarding a new organizational structure – then I read about that structure (there’s still a structure to a no-managers approach) – I thought, what’s going on there and why so extreme?

As I have worked in several companies, and with hundreds of clients over the years, I have experienced dozens of organizational management methods. Each touts its own version of harmony, efficiency, profitability and eventually, utopia. It’s hard on everyone to navigate those twists, turns and meet the often vague management expectations.

However, it takes more than a system to fix an agency (or a company) that is not functioning optimally. It takes evaluating what’s broken and why. We have to fix the small stuff too. If not, it lingers and derails even the biggest and best efforts to induce a new system.

So Holacracy is the organizational model at Zappos. And it looks like they’ve been moving that direction with mixed adoption for a while. Now, as Mr. Hseih put it, “we are going to take a "rip the bandaid" approach to accelerate progress towards becoming a Teal organization.”

Forcing remedies doesn’t necessarily heal an organization. I do not believe this will work as expected and deliver the cooperation and efficiencies as stated.

For all the good folks at Zappos, I hope they realize the improvements that are promised.

Rather than a hack, I’m just a skeptic with a blog.